The African behemoth

Africa is a huge continent. To see how truly large the African continent is, Visual Capitalist compiled this map showing how many other countries would fit within the continent of Africa. Mapped: Visualizing the True Size of Africa, VisualCapitalist, February 19, 2020:


True size of Africa compared to other countries - VisualCapitalist


Note that the African continent easily contains the countries of United States, China and India. From the Population Reference Bureau 2019 World Population Data Sheet, the current and projected populations of these countries are as follows:



in 2019 (million)

Projected population
in 2050 (million)

Rate of
natural increase
United States 320 388 0.3%
India 1,391 1,670 1.3%
China 1,398 1,367 0.4%
Total 3,109 3,425  

Thus the three most populous countries on earth are projected to grow from 3.1 to 3.4 billion people over the next 30 years - a 10% increase. This is a huge projected increase within the finite boundaries of these countries, but it pales in comparison with that of Africa.

PRB shows the rate of natural increase of all countries in an interactive map. Rates of natural increase of African nations varies from 1.9% to 3.8%. For example, the rate of natural increase of Niger is 3.8%


In order to understand the significance of the natural increase percentages, the Rule of 70 can be used to find the population doubling time. Simply divide the percentage number into 70 to obtain the approximate number of years required to double. That yields the following table:

Country Rate of
natural increase
Years to
double population
United States 0.3% 233
India 1.3% 54
China 0.4% 175
Niger 3.8% 18

A few notes about the above table:

  • The rate of natural increase rarely remains constant over time. Thus the above table is an approximation of population growth if the rate of natural increase were to remain constant.
  • The rate of natural increase is low for the U.S., where women voluntarily reached replacement level fertility in 1972. In the U.S., Canada, and Europe, population growth is being driven by mass immigration. Indeed, mass immigration is driving America's population to double this century.


Another view of population dynamics is shown by the PRB interactive Fertility Rate map, which shows fertility rates as:

Country Fertility rate
United States 1.7
India 2.2
China 1.6
Niger 7.0

Clearly women of Niger - and of many African countries - have large numbers of children compared to the rest of the world.


While the staggering size of Africa can be visualized from the map shown above, it's harder to visualize the impact of Africa's exploding population growth, but this graph shows it well:

African versus European population growth


For more information on the impact of Africa's exploding population, see The World's Most Important Graph, which projects incredibly high population growth of Africa compared to Europe. Also see The World's Most Important Map.