Go Ahead, Forward This Email!

Fast Company’s version of the infamous “the earth’s population” email links real statistics with real sources. Finally, a chain letter you can believe in.

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like this:


60 Asians
12 Europeans
15 from the Western Hemisphere (9 Latin Americans, 5 North Americans, and 1 Oceanian)
13 Africans

Source: UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, “World Population Prospects: The 2000 Revision.”

50 would be female
50 would be male

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census International Data Base, Table 094: Midyear Population by Age and Sex 2001.

80 would be non-white
20 would be white

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census International Data Base, Table 001: Total Midyear Population 2001, assuming the populations of South America, Asia, and Africa are “non-white” and those of North America, Europe, and Oceania are “white.”


67 would be non-Christian
33 would be Christian

Source: Britannica Book of the Year 1999, “Religious Population of the World, 1998,” reprinted at, using numbers from the “Christians” heading only for the Christian percentage.

20 people would earn 89% of the entire world’s wealth

Source: The International Herald Tribune, February 5, 1999, cited in the World Income Inequality table.

25 would live in substandard housing

Source: Habitat for Humanity International, “Why Habitat is Needed.”


17 would be unable to read

Source: UNICEF, “The State of the World’s Children 1999.”

13 would suffer from malnutrition

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization report, cited at

1 would die within the year
2 would give birth within the year

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, World Vital Events Per Time Unit 2001.


2 would have a college education

Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, World Education Indicators, Gross Enrollment Ratio by Sex.

4 would own a computer

Source: UN Human Development Indicators, “Access to Information and Communications 1995.”

Please note: In our research, we were unable to find a consensus on the ratio of hetersexual to homosexual people in the world and subsequently omitted that statistic.

Research by Rekha Balu, Christine Engelken, and Jennifer Grosso.


Read the Web exclusive that first covered Harter’s infamous email, Please Don’t Forward This Email