Can fit 7 billion people in Alaska

What if the entire world population lived in Zurich? Find out with our interactive graphic.

Humanity is growing faster than expected: The current 7.3 billion people are expected to grow to 8.5 billion in 15 years. According to current forecasts by the United Nations World Population Fund, 11.2 billion people could live on earth in 2100 - 11.2 million of them in Switzerland.

How many people should live here? By accepting the mass immigration initiative and rejecting the Ecopop initiative, the voters gave a vague answer to this question: It can be a little more, but please not too many more.

But how many people would there be in Switzerland? The most striking answer is: If we move close enough together, we will accommodate the entire world population. This is of course nonsense. But at the same time an entertaining gimmick. How big would this one city be, in which the whole world population would live?

The question got the American science journalist Tim De Chant to visualize the area that this one city would take up. The question is how densely populated this city would be. As close as New York? Then the world population would be housed in the US state of Texas. As close as Houston? Then it stretched over more than half the area of ​​the United States.

We took De Chant's idea and turned it into an interactive graphic. This can be used to compare how densely different metropolises in the world are populated - and how Swiss cities and villages look in comparison.


For the full screen view, please click on this link.


However, the comparison also has its pitfalls. The statistical data available are usually based on political boundaries. That means: London, with 5200 inhabitants per square kilometer, appears to be as densely populated as Zurich with 4,348. However, if you are in the center of London, you will feel more in a similarly densely populated area as in Paris. The French capital, however, with 21,347 inhabitants per square kilometer, has a much higher population density because its suburbs are not incorporated.

Manila is even more extreme in this regard. The Philippine capital Manila is just one of officially sixteen cities that have grown together and are home to over 11 million people. Only 1.6 million of them live in Manila itself - but on an area of ​​38.5 square kilometers, which is less than half the area of ​​the city of Zurich.

It is also difficult to estimate the population density of settlement areas. Who doesn't think of New York when asked about the most densely populated city in the United States? In fact, Los Angeles is more densely populated than New York, as calculated by the statistics agency. Nevertheless, the image of the skyscrapers of Manhattan imposes itself.

By the way, if the world were a village, it would be housed in Europe. As densely populated as Bonstetten in Zurich, our continent would offer space for the entire world population.

Here are the numbers used in the visualization:

Keywords: population density, interactive
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