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INFOGRAPHIC: Watching The Internet Take Over The World
December 12, 2012
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Who was using the Internet back in 1990?

Not as many people as today: there were about 5 million users connected to the system back then (less than one per cent of the world's population at the time). But almost all of them were located in just 12 countries, and 70 per cent were in the U.S.

So it wasn't really a "World Wide Web" at that point. But in the years since, internet use has become a much more global phenomenon.

Nowadays, more than two billion people, or nearly one third of the world's population, has internet access. And less than 10 per cent of users live in the U.S.

The chart at the top of the post, created by user jkan based on information from World Development Indicators and the World Bank, shows this change. At the left side of the chart is the 1990 state, when the U.S. had the majority of all Internet users.

And on the right side, we see 2011. Things have changed: China has the most internet users by far, and the web is used by many people in countries around the world.

Notice the grey area at the top? That's all the users from countries that make up less than 1 per cent of global use. Although they may not get their own colours on the chart, they make up a significant proportion of all users in the world.

As PopSci points out, though, the chart doesn't offer explanations for some of the changes it shows. For instance, is the U.S. share of internet use declining because fewer people in the States are online, or is it due to increases in other countries' usage?

Well this chart, created using Google's public data tool, answers some of those questions. It displays the numbers of users in each country for the same period

Looks like China has seen a pretty incredible spike in net usage in the last five or six years. Internet users in the States just can't keep up.


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