Top 20 Most Populous Countries in the World 2024

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Welcome to our exploration of the world’s top 20 most populous countries in 2024. Before we dive into the demographics and cultures of these nations, let’s take a moment to consider the ever-changing landscape of global population dynamics.

You might be wondering, “Which is the most populated country in the world?” When we think about the most populated country in the world, India and China often come to mind.

India, recently recognised as the most populous country in the world, registered a total population of 1,428,627,663 in 2023. 

Meanwhile, China, traditionally known as the most populous country, slipped to the second position with a population of 1,425,671,352 for the same year. 

Did you know? According to Worldometer, the combined populations of India and China contribute to the largest population in the world, about 35% of the total world population.

Some of the most common terms that you’ll encounter in the blog are:

TermDefinition
Median AgeImagine lining everyone in a population up by age, youngest to oldest. The median age is the age of the person exactly in the middle. Half the population is younger than this age, and the other half is older.
Fertility RateThis is basically an average of how many children a woman in a population has in her lifetime. A fertility rate of 2 means that each woman has 2 children on average.
Population DensityThis is how crowded a place is. It’s calculated by dividing the total number of people (population) by the area of land they live on. So, imagine a small island with 100 people living on 1 square kilometre. That island would have a high population density of 100 people per square kilometre.
Average person per square kilometreThis is another way to say population density. It just tells you the average number of people living in each square kilometre of an area.

Now, let’s discuss the top 20 most populous countries in the world in detail.

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List of Top 20 most Populous Countries in the World

Here is a list of top 20 most most populous countries in the world and the population number:

CountriesPopulation
India1,428,627,663
China1,425,671,352
USA339,996,563
Indonesia277,534,122
Pakistan240,485,658
Nigeria223,804,632
Brazil216,422,446
Bangladesh172,954,319
Russia144,444,359
Mexico128,455,567
Ethiopia126,527,060
Japan123,294,513
Philippines117,337,368
Egypt112,716,598
DR Congo102,262,808
Vietnam98,858,950
Iran89,172,767
Turkey85,816,199
Germany83,294,633
Thailand71,801,279

Let’s discuss top 5 most populous countries in the world in much detail:

India

India, situated in Southeast Asia, is the most populous country globally. As of 2023, its population surged to 1,428,627,663, marking a notable increase from the previous year’s count of 1,417,173,173. This translates to a significant change of 11,454,490 individuals, representing a growth rate of 0.81%.

India’s demographic landscape is defined by a median age of 28.2 years, a clear indicator of its relatively young population compared to many other nations. 

Moreover, India’s fertility rate stands at 2.0, indicating that, on average, each woman bears two children during her reproductive years. This figure represents a decline from previous years, indicating a continued contribution to population growth.

Geographically, India has an expansive land area of 2,973,190 square kilometres. Despite its vast size, the population density is notably high, with an average of 481 persons per square kilometre.

India’s population dynamics are shaped by many factors, including historical, cultural, economic, and policy-related influences. Rapid urbanisation, improvements in healthcare, advancements in agriculture, and socio-cultural norms surrounding family size and gender roles all contribute to the country’s demographic trends.

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Top 20 Most Populous Countries in the World 2024

China

Situated in East Asia, China is the second most populous country on the global stage. As of 2023, China’s population experienced a slight decrease, falling from 1,425,887,337 in 2022 to 1,425,671,352, reflecting a change of negative 215,985 individuals, or a minimal decline of negative 0.02%.

China’s demographic landscape is characterised by a median age of 39.0 years, indicating an ageing population compared to many other nations. This trend is attributed to declining fertility rates, improvements in healthcare, and socio-economic developments impacting family structures and lifestyles.

One notable aspect of China’s demographic profile is its low fertility rate, which stands at 1.19. This figure indicates that, on average, each woman bears approximately 1.19 children during her reproductive years. This fertility rate is notably below, posing challenges related to an ageing population and labour force dynamics.

Geographically, China boasts an expansive land area spanning 9,388,211 square kilometres. Despite its vast territory, the population density in China is relatively moderate, with an average of 152 persons per square kilometre.

United States of America (USA)

Located in North America, the United States of America (USA) holds a significant position as the third most populous country globally. As of 2023, the population of the USA reached 339,996,563, reflecting a notable increase from the previous year’s count of 338,289,857. This change of 1,706,706 individuals represents a growth rate of 0.50%, a testament to the country’s dynamic population landscape.

With a median age of 38.1 years, the demographic landscape of the USA is evolving, leaning slightly towards an older population compared to many other nations. This ageing trend is indicative of declining fertility rates, healthcare advancements, and life expectancy improvements, all of which significantly shape the country’s population dynamics.

The fertility rate in the USA stands at 1.66, indicating that, on average, each woman bears approximately 1.66 children during her reproductive years. While this figure is below the replacement level, it remains relatively stable compared to previous years and contributes to the ongoing growth of the population.

Geographically, the USA has a land area of 9,147,420 square kilometres. Despite its expansive territory, the population density is relatively moderate, with an average of 37 persons per square kilometre.

Indonesia

Situated in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country globally. As of 2023, the population of Indonesia reached 277,534,122, reflecting a notable increase from the previous year’s count of 275,501,339. This change of 2,032,783 individuals represents a growth rate of 0.74%.

With a median age of 29.9 years, Indonesia’s demographic landscape is notably young compared to many other nations.

The fertility rate in Indonesia stands at 2.13, indicating that, on average, each woman bears approximately 2.13 children during her reproductive years.

Geographically, Indonesia encompasses a diverse archipelago spanning 1,811,570 square kilometres. Despite its vast territory, the population density in Indonesia is relatively moderate, with an average of 153 persons per square kilometre.

Pakistan

Situated in South Asia, Pakistan is the fifth most populous country globally. As of 2023, the population of Pakistan surged to 240,485,658, reflecting a significant increase from the previous year’s count of 235,824,862. This change of 4,660,796 individuals represents a growth rate of 1.98%.

With a median age of 20.6 years, Pakistan’s demographic landscape skews towards a relatively youthful population compared to many other nations.

The fertility rate in Pakistan stands at 3.35, indicating that, on average, each woman bears approximately 3.35 children during her reproductive years.

Geographically, Pakistan spans 770,880 square kilometres, encompassing diverse landscapes, from fertile plains to rugged mountain ranges. Despite its relatively small size, the population density in Pakistan is relatively high, with an average of 312 persons per square kilometre. This distribution reflects the population concentration in urban centres and fertile agricultural regions.

Why Study Abroad?

Youths from the most populous countries in the world often face intense competition and limited opportunities for higher education within their home countries.

That’s where- studying abroad comes into the picture.

Here are several reasons why studying abroad can be advantageous for them:

  • Increased Opportunities: Competition for college seats and employment opportunities can be exceptionally high in densely most populous countries in the world. Studying abroad offers access to a broader range of academic programs, prestigious institutions, and diverse career paths, providing youth with enhanced personal and professional growth opportunities.
  • Quality Education: Many top universities and educational institutions are outside the most populous countries. By studying abroad, youth can benefit from world-class education, cutting-edge research facilities, and exposure to innovative teaching methods that may be outside their home countries.
  • Global Perspective: Studying abroad fosters cross-cultural understanding, expands horizons, and cultivates a global mindset. Experiencing different cultures, languages, and perspectives can enrich personal development, enhance problem-solving skills, and prepare youth to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.
  • Networking Opportunities: Studying abroad provides opportunities to build international networks of peers, mentors, and professionals from diverse backgrounds. These connections can open doors to global career opportunities, internships, and collaborations, facilitating personal and professional growth in the long term.
  • Language Proficiency: Immersing in a foreign language environment is one of the most effective ways to learn and improve language skills. Studying abroad offers the chance to develop fluency in a second language, which can enhance employability, facilitate cultural integration, and broaden communication abilities.
  • Cultural Exchange: Engaging with people from different cultures fosters empathy, tolerance, and respect for diversity.
  • Independence and Resilience: Living and studying in a foreign country requires adaptability, problem-solving skills, and resilience.

Studying abroad offers youth from the most populous countries in the world the opportunity to:

  • Escape intense competition
  • Access quality education
  • Gain a global perspective
  • Expand their networks
  • Improve language skills
  • Experience cultural exchange
  • Develop essential life skills. 

By welcoming the challenges and opportunities of studying abroad, they can position themselves for success in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world.

Also read: 5 Best Countries for MBA in 2024

Top 10 Universities in the World

We’ve listed the top 10 universities in the world where students from most populous countries in the world can go for higher education.

Here’s the table:

University NameLocation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Stanford UniversityStanford, California, USA
Harvard UniversityCambridge, Massachusetts, USA
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)Pasadena, California, USA
University of OxfordOxford, England
ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZurich, Switzerland
University of CambridgeCambridge, England
University College London (UCL)London, England
Imperial College LondonLondon, England
University of ChicagoChicago, Illinois, USA

Note: While the United States is among the most populous countries in the world, its universities are still highly regarded and attract students worldwide. 

Indian students, in particular, often secure positions in these universities due to their excellent education system, and the career growth opportunities post-graduation are immense. Therefore, it’s common to see significant numbers of Indian students enrolled in prestigious universities in the US.

Also read: Average Cost Of Living In The USA In 2024

Factors that affect Population in a country

Population growth is influenced by various factors, both natural and human-made, that interact in complex ways. Some of the key factors affecting population growth in the most populous countries in the world include:

  • Birth Rate: The number of births per 1,000 people in a given population over a specified period affects population growth. High birth rates contribute to population growth, while low birth rates may lead to population decline or slower growth.
  • Death Rate: The number of deaths per 1,000 people in a given population over a specified period influences population growth. High death rates can decrease population growth, while low death rates may contribute to population expansion.
  • Migration: Migration, both internal (within a country) and international (between countries), plays a significant role in population growth. Immigration (inward migration) increases population size, while emigration (outward migration) reduces it.
  • Fertility Rates: Fertility rates, measured by the average number of children born per woman during her reproductive years, impact population growth. Higher fertility rates generally lead to population growth, while lower fertility rates may result in slower growth or population decline.
  • Mortality Rates: Mortality rates, which indicate the number of deaths in a population, influence population growth. Factors such as access to healthcare, sanitation, nutrition, and disease prevalence affect mortality rates.
  • Life Expectancy: Life expectancy, the average number of years a person is expected to live, affects population growth by influencing the number of people in different age groups. Higher life expectancy generally leads to population growth, as people live longer and contribute to population size for more extended periods.
  • Economic Factors: Economic conditions, such as employment opportunities, income levels, and access to resources, can impact population growth. Economic stability and development may lead to higher fertility rates and lower mortality rates, contributing to population growth.
  • Social and Cultural Factors: Social and cultural norms, beliefs, and practices related to family size, marriage, contraception, and education influence population growth. For example, cultural attitudes toward family planning and gender roles can affect fertility rates.
  • Government Policies: Government policies and programs, such as family planning initiatives, healthcare services, immigration policies, and social welfare programs, can shape population growth trends by influencing birth rates, death rates, and migration patterns.
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental conditions, including access to clean water, food security, natural disasters, and climate change, impact population growth by affecting living conditions, health outcomes, and migration patterns.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the most populous countries in the world face big challenges because of their large populations. 

For instance, India, one of the most crowded places, sees many students dreaming of studying abroad for better opportunities. 

That’s where Leapscholar comes in. 

It helps students plan their study journeys overseas smoothly, from finding the right school to sorting out scholarships. 

With Leapscholar, education becomes more accessible, allowing students to reach for their dreams no matter where they are.

Book a free call with us today to know more!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. What are the most populous countries in the world?

    A. The most populous countries in the world, in descending order, are China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, and Mexico. These countries have large populations due to factors such as high birth rates, historical population growth, and significant geographical size.

  • Q. What factors contribute to a country’s population growth?

    A. Population growth in the most populous countries in the world is influenced by various factors, including birth rates, death rates, migration patterns, healthcare access, economic conditions, and government policies. High birth rates, improved healthcare leading to lower mortality rates, and immigration can contribute to population growth, while factors like emigration and government family planning programs can slow it down.

  • Q. How does China manage its large population?

    A. China has implemented various measures to manage its large population, including the one-child policy (now relaxed to a two-child policy), urbanisation initiatives, family planning programs, and social policies aimed at controlling population growth. These measures have helped stabilise China’s population growth rate over the years.

  • Q. What challenges does India face due to its population size?

    A. India faces numerous challenges due to its large population, including poverty, unemployment, strain on resources such as water and land, environmental degradation, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and disparities in education access. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive policies focusing on economic development, education, healthcare, and sustainable resource management.

  • Q. How does the United States handle its diverse population?

    A. The United States manages its diverse population through policies promoting inclusivity, multiculturalism, equal opportunities, and integration initiatives. It has established laws and programs to protect the rights of minorities, promote cultural understanding, and provide support for immigrants, refugees, and marginalised communities.

  • Q. How does population growth impact the environment?

    A. Population growth in the most populous countries in the world can have significant impacts on the environment, including increased resource consumption, habitat destruction, pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. These effects result from greater demand for food, water, energy, and land, leading to environmental degradation and threats to ecosystems and wildlife.

  • Q. What are the economic implications of a large population?

    A. A large population in the most populous countries in the world can have both positive and negative economic implications. On one hand, it can provide a potential workforce and consumer base, driving economic growth and innovation. On the other hand, it can strain resources, infrastructure, and social services, leading to challenges such as unemployment, poverty, and income inequality.

  • Q. What role does education play in managing population growth?

    A. Education plays a crucial role in managing population growth in the most populous countries in the world by empowering individuals with knowledge about family planning, reproductive health, contraception methods, and the importance of smaller family sizes. Educated individuals are more likely to make informed decisions about family planning and have access to healthcare services.

  • Q. How does population density affect quality of life?

    A. Population density in the most populous countries in the world can significantly impact the quality of life in various ways. In densely populated areas, there may be greater competition for resources such as housing, transportation, healthcare, and education. High population density can also lead to increased pollution levels, traffic congestion, noise pollution, and limited access to green spaces.

  • Q. How does migration contribute to population dynamics?

    A. Migration plays a significant role in population dynamics in the most populous countries in the world by influencing population growth, distribution, demographics, cultural diversity, and economic development in both origin and destination countries. Immigration can contribute to population growth and demographic changes in receiving countries, while emigration can affect population decline and brain drain in sending countries. Migration also impacts social cohesion, labour markets, healthcare systems, and political dynamics in both origin and destination communities.

  • Q. What are the long-term implications of uncontrolled population growth?

    A. Unchecked population growth in the most populous countries in the world can have profound long-term implications for societies, economies, and the environment. It can lead to resource depletion, environmental degradation, increased poverty, social unrest, strain on infrastructure and social services, and challenges to sustainable development. Overpopulation can exacerbate food and water scarcity, unemployment, income inequality, and conflicts over land and resources.


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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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