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Where did they all come from?

Those of you, who follow my column regularly, know I am sometimes fascinated by facts and stats. During a recent conversation, the topic of where the world's people live became the subject of much debate. I decided to do a little digging to find some facts which describe this issue in detail.

The planet's population has just surpassed 8 billion, which is a big number. Where do all these people live?

If we start with continents, North America has 400 million people (5 percent), Europe boasts 880 million (11 percent), Africa has a whopping 1.2 billion (15 percent), South America is only 720 million (9 percent), and Asia has the highest, with 4.8 billion (60 percent). Interestingly, half the population lives in cities, with the other half living in the countryside.

You may wonder how connected we are. Six billion people have cell phones (75 percent), but only 2.4 billion have internet (30 percent). Of all the people in the world, 1.36 billion cannot read (17 percent).

Religion is a factor in world issues, and the breakdown might surprise you. There are 2.64 billion Christians (33 percent), followed by 1.76 billion Muslims (22 percent). Hindus are third, with 1.1 billion (14 percent), and Buddhists account for 5.6 million (7 percent). There are about 1 billion people (12 percent) who practice other religions, and the same amount who do not have any religious beliefs (12 percent).

Next time you celebrate your birthday, appreciate that 2 billion people do not live to see their 14th birthday (26 percent), and 5 billion die between the ages of 15 and 64 (66 percent). If you are collecting Canada Pension, be grateful, as there are only 640 million living past 65 (8 percent), which means nearly 7.4 billion people die before they reach the age of 65 (92 percent).

Most of the people we know have the opportunity to eat full meals, drink clean water, have a mobile phone, surf the internet and have attended post-secondary education. Sadly, less than 550 million can say that is the case (7 percent).

It does not hurt to stop every now and then, look around at what you have, and realize how much more we have than most of the world's population.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, 'Jonathan van Bilsen's photosNtravel', on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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