How every state's population compares to countries around the world

Written by:
January 15, 2021
Nikolay Antonov // Shutterstock

How every state's population compares to countries around the world

The U.S. may have the largest economy in the world, but it’s neither the largest country nor the most populated (those titles belong to Russia and China, respectively). In fact, if you come from a small state like Rhode Island or Connecticut, or a state that’s sparsely populated such as Wyoming or Vermont, the U.S. can feel downright intimate. You may feel like you know everyone in your town and that there’s nothing new to see.

But consider this: For every state across the nation, there’s a country that has an equivalent population somewhere else in the world. Looking at how states compare to foreign countries can help you conceptualize just how many people live in any particular area of the U.S. Put into action, that means Wisconsin actually looks a lot like Denmark, and New Hampshire is home to just as many people as Equatorial Guinea. Likewise, adding up the populations of Burkina Faso and Eswatini gives you the same population as the state of Florida. It can turn the way you usually see your state completely on its head.

To help people conceptualize just how many people live in the U.S., Stacker calculated how every state’s population compares with countries around the world using 2019 population data from the U.S. Census Bureau and World Bank. We also looked at news articles, data from think tanks, and other resources to find out the reasons behind any major shifts in the populations of these countries in recent years.

While most of us are still stuck at home during the pandemic, it can be a fun mental escape to figure out which country your state resembles in terms of population. Click through to see how your home state’s population relates to other countries around the world.

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Alllexxxis // Wikimedia Commons

Alabama

- State population (2019): 4.9 million
- State population greater than: 93 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Central African Republic (4.7 million) plus Curaçao (157,540)

Right now, Alabama’s population is roughly equal to that of the Central African Republic (a country that recently experienced escalating violence that displaced some civilians) plus the Caribbean island of Curaçao. That might change in the coming years, though. Meager population growth in the Southern state puts it at risk of losing a seat in Congress at the end of 2020.

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Oliver Foerstner // Shutterstock

Alaska

- State population (2019): 731,545
- State population greater than: 52 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Solomon Islands (669,820) plus Marshall Islands (58,790)

The Solomon Islands has seen a large increase in population in recent decades, more than doubling the number of people between 1990 and the present day. It is now home to one of the largest economies in the region, according to Bloomberg.

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Arizona

- State population (2019): 7.3 million
- State population greater than: 114 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Laos (7.2 million) plus Aruba (106,310)

When the U.S. heavily bombed Laos between 1964 and 1973, the rate of the country’s population growth dropped substantially. According to History.com, the Southeast Asian country lost a tenth of its population by 1975, and 25% of its people became refugees. Laos then saw a huge baby boom throughout the 1980s and into the mid-1990s.

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Arkansas

- State population (2019): 3.0 million
- State population greater than: 81 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Armenia (3.0 million) plus Marshall Islands (58,790)

Armenia lost a 44-day war against Azerbaijan for control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2020. Activists in the country say that doubling the country’s population will help ensure the survival of Armenia, per The Armenian Mirror-Spectator.

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California

- State population (2019): 39.5 million
- State population greater than: 181 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Iraq (39.3 million) plus Samoa (197,100)

Iraq’s population has been affected by years of regional conflict. As of late November 2020, the country had nearly a quarter of a million Syrian refugees, along with another 40,875 refugees from other countries, in cities and camps within its borders, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported.

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Colorado

- State population (2019): 5.8 million
- State population greater than: 103 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Singapore (5.7 million) plus St. Kitts and Nevis (52,830)

In 2020, Singapore’s population dropped for the first time in 17 years. Bloomberg points to the exodus of foreigners during the pandemic, as well as a deep recession, as the reasons behind the falling population.

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Connecticut

- State population (2019): 3.6 million
- State population greater than: 86 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Uruguay (3.5 million) plus Seychelles (97,630)

Uruguay’s population has remained largely steady over the last decade. The country did have a high proportion of aging people compared to working-age folks in its borders around June 2020, according to the Population Reference Bureau, which may explain a brief period of negative population growth in the early 2000s.

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Delaware

- State population (2019): 973,764
- State population greater than: 57 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Djibouti (973,560)

Djibouti has one of the highest proportions of refugees compared to its overall population among countries worldwide. Mirage News reported in December 2020 that around 3% of all people living in the Horn of Africa nation are refugees.

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Florida

- State population (2019): 21.5 million
- State population greater than: 159 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Burkina Faso (20.3 million) and Eswatini (1.1 million)

Unrest and security issues are making everyday life a challenge for people in Burkina Faso. Al Jazeera wrote that around 1 million people in the landlocked West African nation have fled their homes and at least 1,200 people have perished in recent years, which could impact the broader population.

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Georgia

- State population (2019): 10.6 million
- State population greater than: 130 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Sweden (10.3 million) plus Vanuatu (299,880)

Parent-friendly policies and programs have helped Sweden increase its fertility rate in recent years. The BBC said in mid-2020 that the fertility rate in the European nation has climbed to 1.9 children per woman, which will likely affect the overall population.

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Hawaii

- State population (2019): 1.4 million
- State population greater than: 64 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Trinidad and Tobago (1.4 million) plus Palau (18,010)

Trinidad and Tobago usually sees a population surge in February. That’s when the popular holiday of Carnival occurs, drawing members of the country’s diaspora home from countries around the world, per Amnesty International.

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Idaho

- State population (2019): 1.8 million
- State population greater than: 65 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Bahrain (1.6 million) plus Kiribati (117,610)

The kingdom of Bahrain has a lower-than-average fertility rate compared to the rest of the world. As a result, its population number is at risk of declining, according to Asia Times.

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Illinois

- State population (2019): 12.7 million
- State population greater than: 142 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Rwanda (12.6 million) plus Saint Maarten (40,730)

Rwanda experienced a dramatic decline in population in the mid-1990s, when a genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group killed an estimated 500,000-600,000 people and displaced countless others. The country has since made a recovery, and after many years of peace its population has climbed to 12.6 million people.

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Indiana

- State population (2019): 6.7 million
- State population greater than: 108 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Nicaragua (6.5 million) plus St. Lucia (182,790)

Nicaragua’s fertility rate dropped to 2.2 kids per woman from about six in 1980. As a result, its population has shifted into the intermediate phase of the “age-structural transition,” which puts the median age of its population between 26 and 35 years old, per New Security Beat.

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Iowa

- State population (2019): 3.2 million
- State population greater than: 81 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Armenia (3.0 million) plus Samoa (197,100)

World Bank data shows that Samoa’s fertility rate has declined substantially in recent years. In 1960, the country had nearly eight children per woman, and now the number is about half that. As a result, its population growth rate has ebbed and flowed over the last few decades.

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Kansas

- State population (2019): 2.9 million
- State population greater than: 79 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Albania (2.9 million) plus Marshall Islands (58,790)

Emigration out of Albania in the late 1990s caused a drop in the southeastern European nation’s population. The trend may have been a result of the fall of communism and the greater freedoms Albanians earned.

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Kentucky

- State population (2019): 4.5 million
- State population greater than: 90 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Panama (4.2 million) plus Sao Tome and Principe (215,060)

The fertility rate in Panama has shrunk by more than half since 1960. While its population has continued to climb, the rate at which it’s growing has been on the decline since the mid-1960s.

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Louisiana

- State population (2019): 4.6 million
- State population greater than: 91 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Mauritania (4.5 million) plus Kiribati (117,610)

Mauritania lost hundreds from its population in 1989 after it experienced border violence with Senegal, according to the UNHCR. After that, Mauritania decided to repatriate immigrants from Senegal and expel its Black population en masse, which caused a shift in the demographics.

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Maine

- State population (2019): 1.3 million
- State population greater than: 62 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Estonia (1.3 million) plus Nauru (12,580)

Estonia is facing the challenge of a declining population this year and in the future. However, the negative trend has been slightly offset by positive net migration from other European countries in recent years, according to Intellinews.

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Maryland

- State population (2019): 6.0 million
- State population greater than: 105 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Turkmenistan (5.9 million) plus Seychelles (97,630)

Prior to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkmenia reportedly had a population of 3.7 million people, per Radio Free Europe. Now, the country says it’s home to 6.2 million people (higher than the World Bank’s estimates).

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Massachusetts

- State population (2019): 6.9 million
- State population greater than: 110 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Lebanon (6.9 million) plus San Marino (33,860)

Lebanon has experienced fluctuations in its population growth rate throughout the 21st century, largely due to the political climate of the country. Around 20% of the country’s population was non-Lebanese as of 2019, per Arab News.

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Michigan

- State population (2019): 10.0 million
- State population greater than: 126 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: United Arab Emirates (9.8 million) plus Sao Tome and Principe (215,060)

The United Arab Emirates are a popular place for expatriates to relocate, which helps keep its population numbers up. Around 90% of its population is expats, per ABC News.

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Minnesota

- State population (2019): 5.6 million
- State population greater than: 102 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Finland (5.5 million) plus Kiribati (117,610)

Finland’s population has remained largely steady over the last 60 years, climbing from around 4.5 million in 1960 to 5.5 million in 2020. The main change its population has experienced is between urban and rural residents. The country’s urban population has increased substantially since 1960 amid falling numbers of people living in rural areas.

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Mississippi

- State population (2019): 3.0 million
- State population greater than: 81 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Armenia (3.0 million) plus Palau (18,010)

Throughout the 21st century, Palau has seen its fertility rate mostly increase and its infant mortality rate drop substantially. Its population fell slightly in the early 2000s, but since 2010, it has been on a slight upward trend.

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Missouri

- State population (2019): 6.1 million
- State population greater than: 105 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Turkmenistan (5.9 million) plus St. Lucia (182,790)

St. Lucia’s population has more than doubled since 1960. Throughout that time, the Caribbean nation has also seen its life expectancy climb from just under 60 years old to nearly 80, and its infant mortality rate has fallen substantially.

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Montana

- State population (2019): 1.1 million
- State population greater than: 57 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Djibouti (973,560) plus Isle of Man (84,580)

Despite a graph of its population growth rate looking like a roller coaster since 1960, the Isle of Man has seen its overall population double over the last six decades. Interestingly, while many other countries have experienced a rise in urbanization, the Isle of Man has seen both its urban and rural populations grow in parallel over the last 60 years.

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Nebraska

- State population (2019): 1.9 million
- State population greater than: 68 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Guinea-Bissau (1.9 million) plus Nauru (12,580)

Improvements in the health of its residents and overall life expectancy has helped the population of Guinea-Bissau grow since 1960. However, the country did see a major drop in its population growth rate in the 1970s after it fought for independence against the Portuguese.

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Nevada

- State population (2019): 3.1 million
- State population greater than: 81 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Armenia (3.0 million) plus Kiribati (117,610)

Despite occupying a territory similar in size to India, Kiribati dealt with an overpopulation problem, as reported by the BBC in 2014. Most residents live on the tiny island of South Tarawa, creating a population density that rivals Hong Kong and Tokyo.

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New Hampshire

- State population (2019): 1.4 million
- State population greater than: 63 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Equatorial Guinea (1.4 million)

Equatorial Guinea saw its gross domestic product skyrocket at the turn of the 21st century. But despite the increased wealth, it still experiences high rates of poverty and homelessness, which could impact the growth of its population, says Borgen Magazine.

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New Jersey

- State population (2019): 8.9 million
- State population greater than: 120 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Austria (8.9 million)

Austria’s population has climbed steadily since 1960, when just over 7 million people lived in the country. Interestingly, its population growth rate dipped during the mid-2000s, perhaps due to the global economic recession.

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New Mexico

- State population (2019): 2.1 million
- State population greater than: 70 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Slovenia (2.1 million)

While most ex-communist countries in Europe have seen their population go on a downward trend, Slovenia’s one of the few whose populations are on the rise, says Reporting Democracy. This may be due to the increase in foreign workers who’ve come to the country to help fill a labor shortage.

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New York

- State population (2019): 19.5 million
- State population greater than: 157 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Romania (19.4 million) plus Isle of Man (84,580)

Romania had intended to conduct a census in 2021. However, it has since postponed the census by a year due to COVID-19, which will mean there’s a delay in updated data on the number of people living in the country and their demographics.

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North Carolina

- State population (2019): 10.5 million
- State population greater than: 130 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Sweden (10.3 million) plus Samoa (197,100)

Sweden’s population has climbed from just under 8 million people in 1960 to more than 10 million today. Experts say that it may need a much higher net immigration in order to keep Sweden’s age structure stable, as its population is aging, per The Overpopulation Project.

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North Dakota

- State population (2019): 762,062
- State population greater than: 52 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Solomon Islands (669,820) plus Isle of Man (84,580)

The infant mortality rate in the Solomon Islands has fallen from about 12% in 1960 to less than 2% today. The improvement has played a role in the rapid growth of the country’s population, which was a sixth as large as it is today in 1960.

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Ohio

- State population (2019): 11.7 million
- State population greater than: 139 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Burundi (11.5 million) plus Curacao (157,540)

Burundi’s population grows by about 3.25% annually, per the Population Media Center. If the current trend continues, the country may see its population double in about 22 years.

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MehmetO // Shutterstock

Oklahoma

- State population (2019): 4.0 million
- State population greater than: 87 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Georgia (3.7 million) plus Sao Tome and Principe (215,060)

Economic and political turmoil in Georgia caused a mass exodus of people from 1989 to 2002, according to the Jamestown Foundation. A continued downward trend of Georgia’s population may leave the country with just over 1 million people in 50 years.

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Anson Fernandez Dionisio // Shutterstock

Oregon

- State population (2019): 4.2 million
- State population greater than: 89 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Kuwait (4.2 million)

Kuwait’s population declined in the early-to-mid-1990s after the Persian Gulf War. The country’s population has since recovered and is now about double what it was in 1990.

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Pennsylvania

- State population (2019): 12.8 million
- State population greater than: 143 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Guinea (12.8 million) plus British Virgin Islands (30,030)

Guinea’s population has been rising since at least 1960. During that time, the country has also seen its life expectancy rise to around 60 years old and its infant mortality rate drop significantly.

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Rhode Island

- State population (2019): 1.1 million
- State population greater than: 57 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Djibouti (973,560) plus Isle of Man (84,580)

The life expectancy in Djibouti has climbed by more than 20 years since 1960. That, along with improved infant mortality rates, has helped the country’s population climb significantly over the last few decades.

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South Carolina

- State population (2019): 5.1 million
- State population greater than: 98 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Costa Rica (5.0 million) plus Seychelles (97,630)

Costa Rica’s declining fertility rate has been threatening its population for years. After lifting a ban on in vitro fertilization in 2012, the country welcomed its first IVF baby in 2020, offering some hope to the future of the country’s population.

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South Dakota

- State population (2019): 884,659
- State population greater than: 55 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Comoros (850,890) plus Gibraltar (33,700)

Comoros has seen its population more than double in the last four decades. According to The New York Times, the rising population is threatening the health of the country’s forests.

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Tennessee

- State population (2019): 6.8 million
- State population greater than: 109 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Libya (6.8 million) plus Faroe Islands (48,680)

Libya is a rapidly growing and urbanizing country, World Bank data shows. After a long period of decline, its population growth rate made a turnaround in 2010 and is now at about 1.5%.

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Texas

- State population (2019): 29.0 million
- State population greater than: 168 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Nepal (28.6 million) plus Iceland (361,310)

Nepal’s population is projected to surpass 30 million when the country conducts its census later this year, per the Nepali Times. The census is also expected to show that its population pyramid has a “youth bulge.”

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Utah

- State population (2019): 3.2 million
- State population greater than: 82 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Armenia (3.0 million) plus Sao Tome and Principe (215,060)

Armenia’s population may soon be affected by a falling fertility rate. In 1960, the country averaged nearly five children per woman. That number has since dropped to fewer than two children per woman, on average.

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Vermont

- State population (2019): 623,989
- State population greater than: 50 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Montenegro (622,140)

Some of Montenegro’s population growth from 1990 to 2011 can be credited to incoming immigration. During that period, around 75,600 people relocated to the country. By 2011, a fifth of the country’s population was composed of immigrants, says Reporting Democracy.

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Virginia

- State population (2019): 8.5 million
- State population greater than: 117 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Togo (8.1 million) plus Brunei Darussalam (433,290)

From an infant mortality rate higher than 15% in 1960, Togo has made substantial improvements to the health of its population over the last few decades. The country has since seen its life expectancy and general population go up.

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Washington

- State population (2019): 7.6 million
- State population greater than: 115 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Hong Kong (7.5 million) plus Aruba (106,310)

Hong Kong’s fertility rate is staggeringly low at just 1.7 children per woman as of 2018, per the South China Morning Post. It may face a population crisis in the coming years if it does not achieve a replacement level of 2.1.

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West Virginia

- State population (2019): 1.8 million
- State population greater than: 65 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Bahrain (1.6 million) plus Kiribati (117,610)

The Bahraini government reports that its annual population growth rate is 7.4% on average. It projects its population to grow to 2.1 million by 2030.

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Nikolay Antonov // Shutterstock

Wisconsin

- State population (2019): 5.8 million
- State population greater than: 104 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Denmark (5.8 million)

Denmark has been trying to protect its population by curbing low fertility rates in recent years. It has used wealth distribution policies to make it easy for people to have children and in 2020 raised its fertility rate to 1.7 births per woman, up from 1.4 in 1993, Reason reported in March 2020.

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Wyoming

- State population (2019): 578,759
- State population greater than: 47 of 216 countries
- Population equal to: Cape Verde (549,930) plus Palau (18,010)

While the continent of Africa is largely expected to have a population boom through the year 2100, Cape Verde may not be a major contributor. It is one of just seven African nations with a fertility rate below 2.37 births per woman, the average across the globe, according to a July 2020 report from Quartz Africa.

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