Vadim Ghirda / AP
- July 11 is World Population Day.
- To mark the occasion, INSIDER Data has found the 30 countries and territories with the biggest population shifts since 1950.
- The United Arab Emirates had the most population growth on average, while Niue had the least.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
When the global population hit 5 billion in 1987, the United Nations started World Population Day on July 11 to spotlight the growing number of people on the planet.
Today, there are 7.7 billion people in the world, and with refugee crises, wars, droughts, and changing work opportunities, populations in some countries are booming while others are shrinking.
By acknowledging the day, the UN hopes to mobilize political will and draw attention to population problems.
We’re marking the occasion by looking at the 15 countries with the biggest population growth since 1950 and the 15 countries with the least population growth since 1950. Here are the results.
HIGHEST POPULATION GROWTH: 1. United Arab Emirates: 7.08% average growth since 1950
Andrew Medichini / AP
The United Arab Emirates has such high growth because of its oil reserves, creating a boom for the country, as well as because it allows any expatriate to apply for citizenship after living there for 20 years, as long as they haven’t committed a crime and can speak Arabic. It’s worth noting that growth soared here in the 1970s and 2000s, but has been much slower in the last decade.
2. Qatar: 6.78% average growth since 1950
Kamran Jerbeili / AP
One of the reasons Qatar sits at No. 2 is due to the explosion of workers who immigrated mostly to help with building infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which was announced in 2010. The population was less than 700,000 in 2003 and at about 2.5 million in 2016, BBC reported.
3. Western Sahara: 5.39% average growth since 1950
Sidali Djarboub/Associated Press
This disputed area in northwest Africa has had high population change due to a large number of people living as displaced refugees. Morocco controls about three-quarters of the territory, and has offered its citizens money, food subsidies, and tax exemptions to move there.
In the 1990s, coastal towns in the Western Sahara became key migration transit points for reaching the Canary Islands, after Spain and Italy tightened visa restrictions and the European Union put pressure on Morocco to control illegal migration, which pushed African migrants to shift their routes.
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