Internet Usage

Sep 13, 2021

The Internet’s history has just begun

The Internet’s history goes back some decades by now – email has been around since the 1960s, file sharing since at least the 1970s, and TCP/IP was standardized in 1982. But it was the creation of the world wide web in 1989 that revolutionized our history of communication. The inventor of the world wide web was the English scientist Tim Berners-Lee who created a system to share information through a network of computers. At the time he was working for the European physics laboratory CERN in the Swiss Alps.

How many internet users does each country have?

The internet has been one of our most transformative and fast-growing technologies. Globally the number of internet users increased from only 413 million in 2000 to over 3.4 billion in 2016. The one billion barrier was crossed in 2005. Every day over the past five years, an average of 640,000 people went online for the first time.7

But how many people from each country are online? In the maps we see the total number of users by country, and the percentage of a country’s population who are users.

China and India take the top two slots despite having only 50 and 26 percent online, respectively. The top six countries by users (and the only countries with over 100 million) in 2016/17 were:

  1. China = 765 million
  2. India = 391 million
  3. United States = 245 million
  4. Brazil = 126 million
  5. Japan = 116 million
  6. Russia = 109 million

But the countries with high internet use rates are not from the above list, due to the high population and low GDP of some of the countries listed. European countries have quite a high internet use rate as seen in the chart below.

Internet usage vs GDP

Technology usage is strongly correlated with national income across the countries surveyed. Countries with a higher GDP per capita generally have higher rates of smartphone ownership and internet and social networking use, while poorer countries tend to have lower rates of technology usage.

Internet usage vs Urban rate

In 2019, 57.4 percent of all households worldwide were estimated to have access to the internet. Of these, 72 percent of households in urban areas had internet access, and just 37.7 percent in rural areas. The lowest access rate is estimated at 11.8 percent in the rural areas of least developed countries (LDCs).


All around the world, the internet continues to transform how we connect with others, organize the flow of things, and share information. With its growing influence on individual consumers and large economies alike, the internet has become an increasingly vital part of our day-to-day lives. In 2019, the number of internet users worldwide stood at 3.97 billion, which means that more than half of the global population is currently connected to the world wide web. But while the digital population is visibly growing in many parts of the world, internet access and availability can differ significantly depending on the region.