· Uganda leads growth that can change face of earth
Xan Rice -- Guardian
KAMPALA, Uganda -- Aug. 25, 2006 -- There are 27.7 million people in Uganda. But by 2025 the population will almost double to 56 million, close to that of Britain, which has a similar land mass. In 44 years its population will have grown by nearly as much as China's.
"You look at these numbers and think 'that's impossible'," said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the U.S.-based Population Reference Bureau, whose latest global projections show Uganda as the fastest growing country in the world. Midway through the 21st century Uganda will be the world's 12th most populous country with 130 million people -- more than Russia or Japan.
Startling as they are, the projections are feasible, and a glance at some of the variables shows why. A typical Ugandan woman gives birth to seven children -- an extraordinarily high fertility rate that has remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years. Half the population is under 15, and will soon move into childbearing age. Fewer than one in five married women has access to contraception.
Taken together, the factors point to a population explosion that has demographers and family planning experts warning that efforts to cut poverty are doomed unless urgent measures are taken.
And not just in Uganda. Across much of sub-Saharan Africa the population is expanding so quickly that the demographic map of the earth is changing.
In the rest of world, including developing nations in Asia and South America, fertility rates have steadily declined to an average of 2.3 children to each mother. Most will experience only modest population growth in coming decades. Some countries, particularly in eastern Europe, will see their numbers decline.
But by 2050 Chad, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Burundi and Malawi -- all among the poorest nations in the world -- are projected to triple in size. Nigeria will have become the world's fourth biggest country. Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia will have vaulted into the top 10 for the first time. Nearly a quarter of the world's population will come from Africa -- up from one in seven today.