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Internet users: The top 20 countries

  • There are a total of 1.8 billion Internet users in the world.
  • There are 32 countries with more than 10 million Internet users.
  • The top 10 countries on the Internet together have 1.17 billion Internet users. That’s 65% of all Internet users in the world.
  • The top 20 countries on the Internet together have 1.47 billion Internet users. That’s just under 82% of all Internet users.
  • China together with the United States make up half of the Internet users in the top 15.
  • Out of the top 20 countries, the five with the highest Internet penetration (not users) are: United Kingdom (82.5%), South Korea (81.1%), Germany (79.1%), Japan (78.2%), United States (76.3%).
  • Seven out of the top 20 countries are Asian (35%).
  • Five out of the top 20 countries are European (25%). Six (30%) if you also count Russia.
  • Three of the top 20 are English-language countries (four if you count India).

In spite of their stellar rankings, Internet users in both China and India make up a minority of the population.

On the contrary, countries like the United States, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom have already converted most of their population to Internet users.

While there is little scope of Internet growth in these countries, as it has already reached saturation point, in the next five to ten years, the balance of power on the Internet will start to shift to countries like India, China, Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines and Russia. A study by World Data Stats came out with the folllowing figures.

Image: Young Beijing residents accompanied by their parents look over what’s on offer at China’s first cyber cafe way back in 1996.
Photographs: Will Burgess/Reuters


Population: 1330.1 million ( 1.3 billion);
Internet users: 420 million

Despite the controversies that Google faced in China, the country leads as far as Internet users are concerned.

On September 20, 1987, China’s first Net connection was established between Beijing and Karlsruhe University in Germany.

The first e-mail went out on September 14, 1987 with the message ‘Across the Great Wall, we can reach every corner in the world’.

China had 420 million Internet users by June 2010. It is projected that China’s Internet population will reach 469 million by the end of 2010, and the number will hit 718 million by 2013.

Image: Attendees use wireless computers provided at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association trade show in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photographs: Tami Chappell/Reuters

United States

Population: 307.2 million
Internet users: 234.4 million

In the United States it all started in the late 1960s, when Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed a project called the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).

The Internet, which grew out of this initial project, first gained a public face in the 1990s.

By 2004, three quarters of Americans had Internet access at home, and by June 2010 total number of Internet users stands 234.4 million.

Interestingly, in 2008, the United States ranked 15th out of 30 countries in broadband penetration rates.

This low worldwide ranking is surprising to many, as the Internet itself was invented in the United States. The country ranked behind most other developed nations, including the UK, Germany, France, Denmark (#1), Switzerland, and Canada.


Population: 126.8 million
Internet users: 99.1 million

The Washington Post in a report once wrote, ‘Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it.’

Japan has the world’s third fastest Internet connections (7.8 Mbps), delivering more data at a lower cost than almost anywhere else.

The speed advantage allows the Japanese to watch broadcast-quality, full-screen television over the Internet, an experience that mocks the grainy, wallet-size images Americans endure, WSJ wrote.

Overcoming the substantial barriers erected by the Japanese government to the introduction of the Internet, promoters and entrepreneurs managed to create a flexible and dynamic Internet society. From a slow start, Japan has emerged as the global leader in the mobile Internet.

Today Japan has 99.1 million Internet users.


Population: 1173.1 million (1.2 billion)
Internet users: 81 million

Internet in India was established more than a decade ago as ERNET — Educational Research Network. It was a joint undertaking of the Department of Electronics (DOE) of the Government of India, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

On August 15 1995, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited launched the Gateway Internet Access Service.

In 1998, India introduced new ISP (Internet Service Provider) policy which ended VSNL’s monopoly on Internet.

Today India has 81 million Internet users.


Population: 198.7 million
Internet users: 72 million

The Internet was launched in Brazil in 1988, when the now defunt National Research Network was formed by the academic communities of Rio de Janeiro and S o Paulo.

It was introduced to the general public, in 1995. Brazilian Internet depended strongly on efforts led by the Federal government and the state-owned communications company Embratel and its holding, Telebras.

This changed in 1998, as a result of the privatisation of Telebras, and the blossoming of private groups such as Telefonica, Telemar and Brasil Telecom.’

Currently, there are about 72 million Internet users in Brazil.


Population: 82.3 million
Internet users: 65.1 million

Competition in the Internet market in Germany is intense and, like all areas of the telecom market, there is a wide range of companies offering services and promotional rates to customers.

High speed Internet access is best through a DSL connection and there are many options for telephone and Internet packages.

Most towns and cities have Internet cafes and Internet “hotspots” providing access via laptop or short-range wireless LAN.

Using the Internet to make telephone calls (Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP) is gradually becoming more popular in Germany.

Today Germany has 65.1 million Internet users.


Population: 139.4 million
Internet users: 59.7 million

It all started in january 1990 with the creation of the social organisation Glasnet (Glasnost + Network). The name and funding was provided by San Francisco based Association for Progressive Communication.

IT provided grants, which financed Internet work for teachers, human rights workers, ecologists, informal groups and other guarantors of the open society.

In 1993, Glasnet became a commercial provider.

Russia still has some e-addresses that have existed since 1991, which were among the first 150 Russian (or, rather, Soviet) electronic addresses.

In 1994 Russia opened its first website – Moscow Libertarium. It is one of the oldest sites on the Russian Internet and is supposed to be among the first 3,000 WWW sites in the world.

Russia today has 59.7 million users.

United Kingdon

Population: 62.3 million
Internet users: 51,4 million

Broadband Internet access in the UK  was, initially, provided by a large number of regional Cable television and telephone companies which gradually merged into larger groups.’

More than half of UK homes have broadband.

Currently internet access is available to businesses and home users in various forms, including dial-up, cable, DSL, and wireless.

It has 51.4 million users now.


Population: 64.8 million
Internet users: 44.6 million

France has several high-speed / DSL ISPs which all offer more or less the same deal: unlimited Internet, TV, and telephone (with free calls to fixed phones in dozens of countries) for about euro 30 per month.

In February this year, the lower house of the French parliament approved a draft bill that will allow the state unprecedented control over the Internet.

Although the government said it will improve security for ordinary citizens, civil rights activists warned of a ‘new level’ of censorship and surveillance.

There are 44.6 million Internet users in France.


Population: 152.2 million
Internet users: 44 million

How many Nigerian scam mails do you receive in a week? Innumerable would probably your answer. However, ICT experts of the country are concerned about Nigeria’s disinterest in the Internet.

They feel the country needs massive, cheap high speed Internet to further progress and improve access to connectivity.

While the global average broadband penetration is 30 per cent, in Nigeria broadband has a little penetration of one per cent out of the estimated seven per cent of Internet access.

In spite of this, Nigeria ranks tenth in the list with 44 million Internet users.

The final ten in order of ranking are:

South Korea

Population: 48.6 million
Internet users: 39.4 million


Population: 77.8 million
Internet users: 35.0 million


Population: 76.9 million
Internet users: 33.2 million


Population: 58.1 million
Internet users: 30.0 million


Population: 243 million
Internet users: 30 million


Population: 99.9 million
Internet users: 29.7 million


Population: 46.5 million
Internet users: 29.1 million


Population: 111.2 million
Internet users: 27.6 million


Population: 33.5 million
Internet users: 25.1 million


Population: 89.6 million
Internet users: 24.3 million

Source : Rediff


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