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Nationality of the Internet

Take a look at the image below I found in the September 4th-10th edition of the Economist (p.g. 75). This is a visual representation of the “nationality” of traffic on the internet, created by California’s Co-operative Association for Internet Data Analysis. America is in pink, Italy in pale blue, Sweden in green and unknown countries in white. According to this visualization, it seems as though at least half of all traffic is still American (or at least with an American IP).

Now let’s compare this with the latest internet usage statistics from the Internet World Stats data centre (in descending order):


  • Asia: 825 million internet users (42% of world total)
  • Europe: 475 million internet users (24.2% of world total)
  • North America: 266 million internet users (13.5% of world total)
  • Latin America/Caribbean: 205 million internet users (10.4% of world total)
  • Africa: 111 million internet users (5.6% of world total)
  • Middle East: 63 million internet users (3.2% of world total)
  • Oceania/Australia: 21 million internet users (1.1% of world total)
  • World Total: 1.97 billion internet users

Penetration & Growth

  • Africa: 11% penetration with 2357% growth over last decade
  • Middle East: 30% penetration with 1825% growth over last decade
  • Latin America/Caribbean: 35% penetration with 1033% growth over last decade
  • Asia: 22% penetration with 622% growth over last decade
  • Europe: 58% penetration with 352% growth over last decade
  • North America: 77% penetration with 146% growth over last decade
  • Oceania/Australia: 61% penetration with 179% growth over last decade
  • World Total: 28.7% penetration with 445% growth over last decade

So in the words of “Bear” (aka. the double rainbow guy), what does this mean? Well, I can’t speak for Bear,however in my humble opinion it means the following:

Even though Americans still account for a significant portion of daily internet traffic with relatively few users , this will end very soon. If you take a look at the growth rates of Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, you’ll notice that they are all 10-20 times higher than that of North America, yet their penetration rates are all under 35%. And since those regions house the majority of the world’s population, the remainder of future internet users and traffic can only come from there.

The big question is whether or not we will ever reach the state of a truly global internet where the internet user population distribution is equal to that of the actual population distribution. Such a scenario could have very powerful effects, especially considering that the majority of the world’s population lives in poverty.

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