Life around the world

Tuesday, 7 October, 2014 - 14:14

In a country of 1.4 billion ...

by RosalieL

Anyone who has ever tried to navigate the shops on Oxford Street on a Saturday knows what it's like to be engulfed in a sea of people. Yet although London is a densely populated city, there are only around 60 million people in the UK. Whilst this sounds like a lot, we should remember that our little island is just that - little - when we compare it to some other countries in the world. The USA is home to 316 million people, India has a population of 1.25 billion - but China takes the top prize, with 1.4 billion residents. That means that one fifth of the world's population are Chinese: 1 out of 5 people in the entire world live in China.

This isn't something that's easy to comprehend - in fact, I would struggle to tell you how many zeros there are in a billion! But the fact that there are 1.4 billion people in China, the country where I am now living, really becomes apparent on certain occasions. Throughout the two months that I've been here, there have been moments when I have begun to appreciate just how many people live in this vast country. For example, when you take a bus in China, there is no concept of the bus being full. People will simply keep squeezing their way onto the vehicle at all costs. Personal space isn't a priority in a country with so many! Another example of this is the supermarket at the weekend: people manage to navigate their trolleys through tiny gaps between the isles, defying the laws of space. Getting from the fruit aisle to the meat aisle becomes an epic challenge as you elbow your way through the masses, crying out in your best Chinese in the hope that someone will take pity and let the poor foreigner through.

Next time you're piling onto the London underground or a busy train or bus in your country, or picking up your groceries at a crowded supermarket, think about the number 1.4 billion and try to imagine what these daily situations would look like in a country like China!

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