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The United Nations announced that world population had reached the seven billion mark on Monday, October 31, 2011. Twelve years ago, on October 12, 1999, the United Nations had named the Bosnian child, Adnan Nevic, the sixth billion inhabitant of the world. While the world took about 250,000 years to acquire a population of one billion, the population explosion of the past centuries has been a matter of much concern given the impending food shortage and crisis that accompanies the burgeoning population. Danica May Camacho from Philippines, Nargis from India, Alexander from Russia, and Ayshe from Bangladesh were among the babies chosen to represent the seven-billionth person born.

The Uncertainty

The demographers at the United Nations Population Division stated that it is impossible to know the exact population of the world on any given day or at any time. The United Nations also believes that the calculations involve a certain amount of guess work. The United Nations demographers agree that the birth of the seventh billion child could be upto six months before or after October 31, 2011 and the date was symbolically selected as the most likely date. The United States Census Bureau calculations do not agree with the UN demographics estimate. The US demographers think that the seventh billion birth is likely to take place in March 2011.

The Concern

While the growth in popconnectulation signifies an enhanced life expectancy and better living conditions, it is also a wake up call for the nations of the world. With the steady rise in population most countries are likely to run out of food, drinking water and many natural resources. Environmental destruction is another cause for concern. Increased demand for urbanization and destruction of the natural environment threatens the very existence of life. According to UN reports the production of food needs to increase by about 17% to be able to accommodate the nine billion population expected towards the middle of this century.

A number of allied concerns have also cropped up with the increase in population. The skewed sex ratio in some countries is a worry. In India, for example, there are about 893 girls for every 1000 boys, a low ratio compared to the United States where there are about 955 girls to 1000 boys. Countries such as China have a rigid one child per family policy in urban areas and are trying to curb the menace of a staggering population.

In his address on the occasion, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon called attention to the economic disparity of the world - "Plenty of food but one billion people go hungry. Lavish lifestyles for a few but poverty for too many others."

Population Milestones

The world population reached the one billion mark in 1804. Over a century later, in 1927 the world population was noted to have reached two billion. But the next billion was reached quickly in 1959. About fourteen years later in 1974, the world population reached four billion. The fifth billion was reached in the year 1987. In 1999 the UN noted the growth of the population to six billion and within twelve years the population has grown by another billion. The concerns stem from the fact that while the population is growing exponentially the produce of food is growing at a set quantity annually. As Rev Thomas Malthus predicted in 1798, the global population may soon outstrip the world’s ability to feed its inhabitants.

World's Most Populous Countries

The countries ranking highest in world population are People’s Republic of China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia, and Japan. Over 58% of the world’s population lives in these countries. Population explosion is a major concern in Asia as about seven of these ten countries are in Asia. Singapore, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Palestinian territories, Taiwan, South Korea, Lebanon, Netherlands, Rwanda, and Israel top the list of countries going by population density alone. Ranked by a combination of population and population density, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, UK, South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and Netherlands top the list. India (population density of 367 per sq kilometer) also has the most births per minute in the world.

Next Billion

United Nations expects the world population to reach the eight billion mark by 2025 and to reach the ten billion figure in 2083. These dates however are based on current estimates and the actual years could vary depending on a number of factors including mortality rates, life expectancy, birth control measures, and natural phenomena. To mark the occasion of reaching a seven billion population, the United Nations chose a number of babies symbolically represent the seven billionth birth. These children were chosen from across the world.


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