Distribution of Population and Mortality

Data on population size, population growth, life expectancy, fertility and child mortality rates offers insights into the health of countries around the world and, as such, into their people's chances and ability to prosper. Over the years, it can also help chart global progress towards the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight objectives that range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education by the target date of 2015.


By Valentina Pasquali. Project coordinators: Denise Bedell and Alessandro Magno

Data is from the Global Health Observatory of the World Health Organization. Latest figures from 2010 (2009 for Life Expectancy at Birth.) Population maps are from Worldmapper.com

Values from highest (darkest red) to lowest (lightest red).

Total Population in 2010 (in thousands)

Population Growth in 2010

Fertility Rate in 2010 (per woman)

Under-five Mortality Rate in 2010 (probability of dying by age 5 per 1000 live births)

Life Expectancy at Birth 2009

Click on the column heading to sort the table.

According to the latest World Health Statistics Report (2012) of the World Health Organization, over the last ten years "substantial progress has been made in reducing child and maternal mortality, improving nutrition, reducing morbidity and mortality due to HIV infection, tuberculosis and malaria, and increasing access to improved drinking-water sources." While this can be taken as a sign that the efforts undertaken across the world have been effective, it is important to remember that "large variations in health status persist both between and within countries."


The WHO compiles annual statistics of health-related data for its 194 Member States. In its yearly report, the WHO also provides a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs.)


The indicators used by the WHO have been selected on the basis of their relevance to global public health; the availability and quality of the data; and the reliability and comparability of the resulting estimates. Together, these shed a light on the current status of national health and health systems in ten areas: life expectancy and mortality, cause-specific mortality and morbidity, selected infectious diseases, health service coverage, risk factors, health workforce, infrastructure and essential medicines, health expenditure, health inequities, demographic and socioeconomic statistics, health information systems and data availability.

For the sake of this page, which aims to highlight the world's distribution of population and mortality, we focus on demographic categories, in particular population size, population growth, life expectancy and fertility and child mortality rates.


China had the largest population in 2010, with 1.34 billion people, followed by India with 1.22 billion. Qatar's population grew the most over 2009, at a rate of 9.6%. Afghanistan, Somalia and Zambia showed the highest fertility rate, with 6.3 children per woman. At the same time, in Somalia, the mortality rate for children under five year of age was 180 per 1000 live births, the highest in the world. In 2010, Malawi had the lowest life expectancy at birth, with 47 years, while San Marino and Japan had the highest, tied in first place with 83 years.



The website Worldmapper.com offers a variety of maps, conveying visually a host of different demographic and economic indicators. Here are a few relevant ones.

Distribution of population and mortality 2010

Click on the column heading to sort the table.


Population Year 1500 Population Year 2050        Total Children 2004                                 
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