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Changing World Population

Anew studyreleased by the UN Population Division says that the number of people in the world is likely to jump from the current 6.1 billion to 9.3 billion over the next 50 years, with Africa and Asia seeing the greatest growth, theUN press office reports. Because of improving economies and lower mortality and fertility rates, growth will be rapid in Africa, much of Asia and Latin America.

As many developed countries face falling birth rates over the next 50 years, Africa's growth will result in a population three times greater than Europe's in 2050. Some 50 years ago, only 8% of the world population lived in Africa and 22% lived in Europe.

Six countries account for half of the world's current 1.3% annual population growth, or 77 million people per year, the report says. These countries include India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Some 39 countries are projected to be smaller by mid-century, including Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Russia. By 2050, the United States will be the only developed country among the world's 20 most populated nations, the report says.