October 12, 1999. On this date, the world’s human population was estimated to hit 6 billion, according to the United Nations. It took hundreds of thousands of years for Earth’s human population to reach 1 billion in 1804. The 3 billion milestone came in 1960. Not quite 40 years later, global population had doubled to 6 billion.
UNFPA, aka the United Nations Population Fund, marked this date as the Day of 6 Billion. For a really good overview of population issues, check out the fast facts from UNFPA’s Day of 6 Billion website.
Population experts did not agree on the exact date that world population reached the six billion milestone, but they came close. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau set the date just a few months earlier, on July 22, 1999. These numbers are estimates, after all.
Where does the human population estimate now stand? According to United Nations, global human population reached 7.2 billion in mid-2013.
We’re expected to reach the next milestone – 8 billion – in the spring of 2024, according to the most recent United Nations estimates.
The “medium-fertility” projection for the year 2050 has been revised upward to 9.6 billion.
The UNFPA pointed out that the Day of 6 Billion came only 80 days before the year 2000, allowing excellent comparisons to past populations:
In only 40 years, the world population had doubled. In 100 years, it had quadrupled. In only 12 years, it had increased by one billion. Median projections for population growth estimated that by the year 2050, the tally would top 9 billion, with an increase of roughly 77 million people per year.
UNFPA statistics released in September 1999 also stated that the child had a less than 1 in 10 chance of being born into “relative prosperity,” and a 3 in 10 chance of being born into “extreme poverty.”
Bottom line: On October 12, 1999, global human population was estimated to hit 6 billion, according to the United Nations. UNFPA, aka the United Nations Population Fund, marked this date as the Day of 6 Billion.