Population falling in half of the countries in the world

The world’s largest country in terms of surface area is Russia—this is why in the Land Index it gained 12.75 points (in early 1990s, it was even bigger than now). China is the second-largest country (7.31 points), US third (7.12) and Canada fourth (7.08). Trailing them are Brazil, Australia, India, Argentina and Kazakhstan. Poland is in the 67th place in terms of its land mass. The smallest countries are Malta, Barbados, Antigua and Barbados, Micronesia and Singapore and other city-states, such as Hong Kong.

Land Index, 1991-2016

Source: Own calculations

The European Union treated as a whole would have been the seventh largest country in the world with 3.22 points. Interestingly, thanks to subsequent expansion and free additions of additional countries its size continues to grow. In the last 25 years, the EU’s land mass grew by 1.4 points. However, as a result of Great Britain’s departure from the EU, the land indicator will soon fall, along with the population indicator.

Russia, over the last quarter century, grew in size by taking over Crimea. But unlike the expansion of the EU that was based on its political and cultural attractiveness, the expansion of Russia’s landmass was based on military aggression and hybrid war activities against Ukraine.

Another equally important factor of geostrategic importance is demography. Certainly, the number of residents is the most important factor in measuring the state power in this aspect, but their age is increasingly important, along with the number of people who can be professionally active or, in an extreme case, engaged in defending the country.

In China, the value of this index is the highest—17.2 points. It is followed by India (16.26 points), and much lower in the ranking we find the US (4.08 points) and Indonesia (3.22 points). Poland is not among the top 30, while Ukraine holds the 25th spot. Our country is in the 42nd place. There are no surprises in the tail end: we find here the tiny populations of Malta, Micronesia, Montenegro, Bhutan and Cyprus.

Population Index, 1991-2016

Source: Own calculations

The EU treated as one has one tenth of the global population—the index of human resources for the EU holds 9.63 points. The indicator has been growing thanks to the EU’s subsequent expansions.

Unlike the small changes in country sizes, in 1991-2016 significant demographic changes can be seen. In 36 per cent of the countries in that timeframe experienced a fall in the human resources index. The ones that aged the most and saw the biggest drops in population were: China (down 2.5 points), Russia (0.74 points), Japan (0.43 points), Ukraine and Germany (0.33 points each), US (0.32 points) and Great Britain (0.18). The biggest population improvements were posted by: India (by 1.18 points), Nigeria (0.59 points) and Pakistan (0.46 points).

Japan has the largest indicator of demographic burden (the number of people 65+ compared to the population of productive age 18-49 years old). For every 100 people, there are 43 elderly residents. In Italy, which holds the No. 2 spot in the world there are 35, in Greece and Finland 33 and 32 in Germany in the fifth spot. Poland in ranked quite high in the ranking of ageing countries at No. 32 with 22 people. Surprisingly, Russia is further down in the 42nd place because many people do not live long enough to be considered elderly.

The countries with the smallest demographic problem in the world are: Afghanistan, Gambia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan and Yemen. The least demographically burdened country in Europe is Turkey (69th place), followed by Moldavia (62), Albania (50), and Slovakia (45).