Facts and Statistics about the Internet in the World

5.4 Billion People Use the Internet in 2023

The internet has become an indispensable part of everyday life for many, and its role in society continues to evolve and expand. Nearly 80% of those between 15 and 24 years old use the internet.

Northern Europe ranks first among the world's regions in the proportion of the population using the internet in 2023. While China has 1.05 billion internet users.

In a world where technology is developing at a rapid pace, the internet stands as one of the most transformative inventions in modern history. Initially a network reserved for military and academic use, the internet has grown into a global platform that connects billions of people, regardless of geographical and cultural boundaries.

It's important to recognize that the statistics and figures presented about internet usage, telephony, and social media can often be difficult to verify with full certainty. This is due to several factors:

The complexity and uncertainty surrounding data make it challenging to provide accurate and definitive figures. Therefore, it's important to approach these numbers with an understanding of their potential limitations and variability.

Global Overview of Internet Usage

The global reach of the internet is nothing less than impressive. The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) estimates that about 5.4 billion people, or 67% of the world's population, use the internet in 2023. This represents an increase of 45% since 2018, with an estimated 1.7 billion people gaining access to the internet during this period. This significant user base reflects not only the proliferation of technology but also its central role in modern societies. However, there are still 2.6 billion people who are not online. Read more at ITU (external link).

Regional Differences

Although global internet usage has reached impressive heights, a detailed analysis shows significant regional differences. The ITU reports that in 2023, 67% of the world's population, or 5.4 billion people, are online, representing a growth of 4.7% since 2022. In high-income countries, 93% of the population uses the internet, nearing universal use.

According to Statista's report on the number of internet and social media users worldwide as of October 2023 (external link), Northern Europe ranked first among the world's regions in the proportion of the population using the internet in 2023. In Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, 99 percent of the population used the internet as of April 2023. North Korea was at the opposite end of the spectrum, with virtually no internet penetration among the general population, ranking last in the world.

This contrasts with low-income countries, where only 27% of the population uses the internet, up from 24% in 2022. This 66 percentage point difference between high- and low-income countries and regions illustrates the depth of the digital divide. In low-income countries, the number of internet users has grown by 44.1% since 2020, an encouraging development, but the starting point was very low. In high-income countries, the number of users increased by just 1.1% over the same period, which was to be expected given the high penetration rate.

Europe, CIS, and America show internet usage rates between 87 and 91%, while in the Arab states and Asia-Pacific region, the usage rate is about two-thirds of the population. In Africa, only 37% of the population uses the internet. Universal connectivity is still a distant prospect in least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), where only 35 and 39% of the population are online, respectively.

Largest Digital Populations in the World

As of January 2023, China ranked first among countries with the most internet users in the world, with 1.05 billion internet users, more than three times as many as the United States, which was in third place with around 311 million internet users. All BRIC markets had over 100 million internet users, accounting for four of the nine countries with more than 100 million internet users.

As of January 2023, there were five billion internet users in the world. However, there are large differences in user distribution by region. East Asia is home to 1.24 billion internet users, while Africa and the Middle East had lower user numbers. Furthermore, urban areas showed a higher percentage of internet access than rural areas.

India has the world's largest "unconnected" population of 730 million people, while China, despite an adoption rate of over 70 percent, has the second largest with nearly 375 million unconnected individuals.

Top 5

See the full list here: Statista (external link)

Development Over Time

The development of internet usage from the year 2000 to the present represents a significant transformation. At the turn of the millennium, in the year 2000, there were approximately 361 million people globally who used the internet, equivalent to around 6% of the world's population at that time. This period marks the beginning of a remarkable phase of growth, where the number of internet users has increased exponentially. Driven by technological advancements and lower costs for internet access, this development has been particularly prominent in developing countries, where rapidly increasing internet access has led to more and more people gaining access to this digital resource.

Furthermore, from 2018 to 2023, global internet usage experienced a significant expansion. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6%, the growth in internet users has been remarkable. The most significant increase was registered in 2019, where the number of new internet users rose by 300 million, a growth of 7.7% from the previous year, illustrating the accelerated adoption of the internet on a global scale.

Mobile Internet

A key factor in this growth is the increasing availability of mobile internet. Mobile phones have become the primary way many people around the world connect to the internet, leading to a massive increase in the use of social media and online services. As of October 2023, over 4.95 billion people around the world have used social media, equivalent to 61.4% of the global population.

According to GSMA's sixth annual "State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report," over half (54%) of the global population – approximately 4.3 billion people – now own a smartphone. Of the 4.6 billion people who now use mobile internet, nearly 4 billion do so using a smartphone, representing almost half (49%) of the world's population. 600 million people – 8% of the global population – however, use the internet through a feature phone (non-smartphone).

While more people than ever before use mobile internet – 57% of the global population – 3.4 billion people are still not connected. The majority of those not using mobile internet live in areas covered by a mobile broadband network. This constitutes a significant "usage gap." In least developed countries, only 25% of the population uses mobile internet, compared to 52% in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and 85% in high-income countries.

Age Distribution of Internet Users

Internet usage varies significantly with age, providing insight into digital trends and adoption worldwide.

These data show how different age groups engage in the digital world and reflect the varied ways different generations interact with and utilize the internet. Read more at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (external link).

Social Media

It is estimated that there are about 4.95 billion social media users globally as of October 2023, representing 61.4% of the total global population. This represents an increase of 3.7 percent over the last year, according to calculations from the digital consultancy firm Kepios.

The time spent on social media has also increased, by two minutes to 2 hours and 26 minutes per day. Here too there are large differences - Brazilians spend an average of 3 hours and 49 minutes per day on social media, while the Japanese spend less than an hour. An average user is active on 6.7 different social media platforms each month.

There are large differences between regions. Only one in 11 people in East and Central Africa uses social media. While in India, the figure is one in three.

Meta has three of the social media with WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook. China has three apps, WeChat, TikTok, and its local version.

Based on the latest available data from Statista from October 2023 (external link), here are the largest social media ranked by the number of monthly active users (in millions):