The global embrace of the internet

I remember when I first got online back in 1989 via CIX, I knew I’d found something magical, something that enabled me to do or discover things way beyond the confines of the computer itself. Then came CompuServe in 1990 which provided a more user-friendly way of being online albeit in a paternalistic walled-garden sort of way. And then in about 1992, I found the internet proper via Demon Internet: what I saw (and still see, really) as Alice’s Wonderland.

Such musing is a way to introduce some new stats from internet monitoring and analyst firm Pingdom on how the internet has exploded in growth since the beginning of this century, in just ten years. If the 1990s were the time of embryonic development, experimentation and no way ready for a global mass market, then the 2000s – especially since 2005 – were the time for the start of enabling a mass market to develop around the world that enables people anywhere with a connection to the internet to do amazing things.

In the words of Pingdom:

Here is how much the Internet has grown since the year 2000.


There were only 361 million Internet users in 2000, in the entire world. For perspective, that’s barely two-thirds of the size of Facebook today.

The chart really says it all. There are more than five times as many Internet users now as there were in 2000. And as has been noted elsewhere, the number of Internet users in the world is now close to passing two billion and may do so before the end of this year.

The Internet hasn’t just become larger, it’s also become more spread out, more global.

  1. In 2000, the top 10 countries accounted for 73% of all Internet users.
  2. In 2010, that number has decreased to 60%.

This becomes evident when viewing the distribution of Internet users for the top 50 countries in 2000 and in 2010. Note how much “thicker” the tail of the 2010 graph is.


That’s one heck of a long tail.

Read Pingdom’s post for more detail including comparing top countries then and now, and how internet use in Nigeria has grown by a whopping 21,891 per cent. Must be all that email traffic with offers of "Cheap Viagra®" (have you noticed how those emails always include the registered trademark symbol?) and "genuine fake Rolex" that we all get.

In any case, it really is amazing to see the extent to which the internet has become an essential tool for connecting people around the world in such a short time. Pingdom bases its analysis largely on data from Internet World Stats, itself a very useful information source.

I wonder what 2020 will look like. That’s only ten short years way.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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