|Evolution, Overpopulation and Environmental Protection|
|Below you will find information about a group of countries with
high birth rates; among these countries are some nations with the
highest population numbers in the world.
We report official figures for population in each country in 2013, and the UN projections for their likely population by 2050.
These countries typically suffer from problems associated with high birth rates and undeveloped economies, such as lack of food and water security, and political unrest caused by perceived inequalities. In some of these countries corruption among officials is endemic, and in some there is a growing sectarian terrorist threat.
Bangladesh lies on the north shore of the Bay of Bengal in South Asia, in the delta plain of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers. After the civil war of 1971, Bangladesh, formerly “East Pakistan”, was created as a separate state of mainly Bengali people. It is a country liable to natural disasters: floods, tornadoes and major cyclones are an almost annual occurrence.
In 2011 the UN estimated the population to be 148 million, making it the 8th most populous country in the world, but also the most densely populated country (excluding small countries and city states) at more than a thousand people per square kilometre. One estimate puts the current population in 2013 at 155 million.
The UN’s projection, made in 2010, has the likely population in 2050 at 194 million. However it is true that the population growth rate in Bangladesh has slowed since the 1960s and 70s, with the fertility rate being down from almost 7 children per woman to 2.4 children per woman in 2005-2010.
The major challenges faced by Bangladesh are over-population, poverty, political instability and corruption. Male life expectancy is only 57.6 years, reflecting the high risk of major infectious diseases, especially waterborne diseases. Infant mortality in 2005-2010 was put at 49 deaths per 1,000 births. An even more pressing problem which the country can do little about is the likely effect of global warming on sea levels: most of the country is less than 12m (39 feet) above sea level and a 1 metre rise in the ocean would flood about 10% of its land mass, it is estimated.
India is currently the 2nd most populous country in the world, with over 1.2 billion people at the last official census (2011). In July 2012, the CIA World Factbook estimated the population of India to be growing at 1.3% a year. In 2011 the UN Population Division’s projection for India’s population in 2050 was nearly 1.7 billion, which would see it overtake China (projected population for 2050: 1.3 billion) as the world’s most populous country.
More than 50% of India’s population is under the age of 25, and life expectancy at birth is 67.5 years for men and 72.6 years for women. The infant mortality rate is 61 deaths per 1,000 live births, and an estimated 1.7 million children die every year before their first birthday, many from diarrheal diseases. One reason for this high mortality is a lack of adequate immunisation; another is malnutrition, which affects 42% of India’s children below the age of 3 – a worse figure than in the Sahel region of Africa, and this in an economy that grew 50% between 2001 and 2006. This problem is partly due to the fact that over 68% of the population lives in rural villages and half of them live below the poverty line and have limited access to healthcare. Added to this is a lack of sanitation and access to safe drinking water. The main diseases are malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis and tuberculosis, as well as diabetes and breast cancer. India also has the 3rd highest rate of HIV in the world, and the highest incidence of rabies.
Two areas of concern affect children in India. The 2011 census showed a serious decline in the number of girls under the age of 7, and some activists claim that 8 million female foetuses may have been aborted in the first decade of this century, as a result of a preference for male children. This claim is impossible to verify, and some scientists think that the sex ratio of 917 girls to every 1,000 boys in the 2011 census is within the limits of natural variation. The second concern is the issue of child labour. UNICEF estimates that India has the highest number of labourers under the age of 14 in the world. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, 60% of these child labourers work in agriculture. Causes of child labour include poverty, a lack of schools, and the size of the informal economy, which is where most of the 40% not employed in agriculture work.
Note: worldwide it is estimated that 217 million children work, many of them full-time.
Kenya in East Africa is bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia in the north; by Tanzania in the south and Uganda to the west. Kenya has a long Indian Ocean coast and the second highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya, from which it takes its name.
In 2011 the population of Kenya was estimated at 41 million, and according to the CIA World Factbook may have reached 44 million by July 2013. In 2011 the UN Population Division predicted that by 2050 the population would be nearly 97 million, making it the 18th most populous country in the world. Population density was estimated by the World Bank to be 71 people per sq. km in 2010, putting Kenya 105th in the list of most densely populated countries.
The birth rate in Kenya fell slightly during the 2,000s, and in 2010 was estimated at 4.4 children per woman.
Kenya, like much of Africa, still has high infant mortality, relatively low life expectancy (estimated at 64 years in 2012), and problems of ethnic conflict, corruption and HIV/AIDS. An estimated 32% of the population are under-nourished, and diseases of poverty are widespread: malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition are the biggest problems, along with HIV which is believed to affect 6.3% of the adult population.
Kenya’s energy is mostly hydro-electric, and shortfalls in electricity occur in times of drought. The country aims to build a nuclear power plant by 2017 that would make it self-sufficient in energy. All Kenya’s oil requirements currently have to be imported, making the country vulnerable to the world oil market.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria in West Africa is a country of 36 states, sharing borders with Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon. A former British colony, Nigeria has an estimated 400 languages spoken by more than 500 ethnic groups, and therefore uses English as its national language. The population is divided between Muslims, mostly living in the north, and Christians, who mainly occupy the central and southern regions.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and the 7th most populous country in the world. Nigeria’s National Population Commission expects its population to reach 170 million in 2013, with a current population growth rate of 3.2% per year. The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs projects a population of 389 million for Nigeria by 2050. Nigeria is one of a group of 8 countries expected to provide between them half the world’s population increase from 2005 to 2050.
Nigeria has a large amount of natural resources, and as the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world is a member of OPEC. However the Niger Delta region, centre of the oil industry, has suffered from environmental problems and serious oil spills. There has been conflict in the region with groups agitating for a fairer share of the prosperity oil brings, when they are suffering the effects of pollution that go with it.
The north of the country is in the Sahel region close to the southern edge of the Sahara desert, and climate change threatens the food production of that part of the country.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is bordered by India, Afghanistan, Iran and China. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The nation was created in 1947 as an independent Muslim country out of east and west regions of India but, after a civil war in 1971, “East Pakistan” became the separate country of Bangladesh.
The Government of Pakistan’s official estimate of the country’s population in May 2013 is 183 million, although OECD/World Bank figures already had the population at over 187 million back in July 2011. That would make Pakistan the world’s 6th most populous country, with only the 47th largest economy in terms of GDP. In 2011 the OECD/World Bank estimated the population growth rate to be 1.6%. In 2009 the birth rate was estimated to be nearly four times the death rate.
The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs now projects a population of 274 million for Pakistan by 2050. The country has a young population (37% of the population is under 15), but also hosts one of the largest numbers of refugees of any country, mainly from Afghanistan. Many Afghan refugees were actually born in Pakistan. Pakistan is also a relatively urban society for South Asia, with 36% of its population living in cities.
Although there are a number of different ethnic groups living in Pakistan, their differences are more cultural than linguistic or religious. There have been thousands of years of ethnic mixing, and inter-marriages between ethnic groups are quite common. One gender problem is the preference for male children. It has been estimated that 90% of the more than a thousand babies killed or abandoned to die each year are girls.
Poverty, illiteracy and corruption have long been big challenges for Pakistan, but to these traditional problems has been added terrorism.
There should have been a census in Uganda in 2010, but it was cancelled by the government on grounds of cost, and there have now been no official census figures available for over 10 years. However in 2013 the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimated Uganda’s current population to be 37.5 million, and the same organisation in 2012 predicted a population of 104 million by 2050. Uganda will be the 10th most populous country in the world by 2100, with 205 million people, according to this projection.
According to UN Population Prospects, Uganda has the second youngest population in the world after Niger, with nearly half (48.4%) of its people under 15 years of age. There is a lot of excess mortality due to AIDS, and life expectancy in 2013 was estimated to be 59 years averaged across both sexes. Infant mortality has come down from 67 per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 57 per 1,000 in 2013 (UN), yet 12,000 children every year still die of diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and lack of sanitation, according to WaterAid. This organisation estimates that over 8.8 million people in Uganda (almost a quarter of the population) don’t have access to safe water, and over 22 million have no adequate sanitation.
Lack of contraception is a major issue in the population expansion, leading to an estimated 700,000 unwanted births a year (Population Reference Bureau, Washington DC). Only 20% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 have access to contraception, and 3 out of 10 women who need to control their pregnancies are not using any contraception (PRB Washington).
It is true that Uganda’s fertility rate has come down from 6.7 children per woman in 2005, but at 5.9 children per woman in 2013 according to the UN, it is still the second highest fertility rate in the world, being higher than the African average of 5.1, and much higher than the global average of 2.7 (PRB Washington).
The name ‘Tanzania’ is a blend of ‘Tanganyika’ and ‘Zanzibar’, the two states that united in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania. This east African country’s eastern border is the Indian Ocean, with the island of Zanzibar lying 50km off shore.
In 2003 the UN estimated the population of Tanzania at 37 million. The 2012 Tanzanian government census put the population at 45 million, with an annual growth rate of 2.9%. According to UN projections published in 2011, the population is likely to reach 138 million by 2050, making it the nation with the 13th highest population in the world. The population of Tanzania is very young, with 45% being under 15 years of age, and only 3% over 65 years. 45,000 Tanzanians currently live abroad, mostly in the UK, Canada, the US and Europe.
HIV/AIDS is a big problem in Tanzania, with a UN estimated 7.8% of the 15 to 49 age group living with the condition in 2001. There were an estimated 86,000 deaths from AIDS in 2009. In addition AIDS causes high infant mortality and lowers life expectancy. With 80% of the population being employed in agriculture, land degradation caused by inappropriate cultivation and increasing population is reducing the productivity of soils in many parts, and average farm sizes have decreased. In 2001 the GDP was estimated at 270 USD per person per year, and 40% of the rural population were living below the basic needs poverty line. A number of agencies have identified land degradation and desertification as major problems in Tanzania, as a result of the traditional method of “slash and burn agriculture”, where a family moves on after two or three years use of the land, no longer working with increased population pressure.
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