First Countries to Reach 5 Million People

Try to name the modern-day countries whose current territory reached a population of 5 million people at the earliest date.
Based mostly on this map
Dates should be considered crude estimates
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: January 14, 2020
First submittedSeptember 6, 2017
Times taken69,344
Average score80.0%
Rating4.86
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Year
Country
2000 BC
China
2000 BC
India
200 BC
Turkey
100 BC
Italy
1 AD
France
200
Spain
400
Iran
Year
Country
600
Bangladesh
600
Japan
800
Mexico
1000
Indonesia
1100
Germany
1100
Pakistan
1200
Nigeria
Year
Country
1200
Russia
1300
Peru
1400
D.R. Congo
1600
Egypt
1600
Poland
1600
United Kingdom
+51
Level ∞
Sep 6, 2017
Egypt is a weird case. Their population hovered in the 3-4 million range for over a thousand years. Its possible that they hit 5 million at some point B.C.

Edit: This source estimates a population of 4.9 million in 150 B.C.

+15
Level 72
Mar 6, 2018
As an Egyptian, I was under the impression that Egypt exceeded 10 million at some point during the height of the dynastic period. Perhaps I am influenced by old wives' tales and the populist media in my country?
+23
Level 83
Mar 6, 2018
Ancient population figures vary wildly and are extremely hard to pin down. Primary sources almost always exaggerate, sometimes by orders of magnitude, making ancient demography a very inexact science.
+39
Level 46
Mar 7, 2018
Mo Salah, Mo Salah, Mo Salah...running down the wing
+2
Level 60
Aug 25, 2019
Nobody really thought back then to keep count of people, so any census data is inaccurate. As long as the population was stable, the civilisation would flourish.
+4
Level 62
Sep 5, 2021
Those estimates probably also would have included Sudan and the Levant if it was the entire population of Egypt at the time.
+7
Level 72
Sep 6, 2017
On the basis of your source, I am pretty sure Indonesia hits the 5 million mark around 1000 AD.
+4
Level ∞
Sep 6, 2017
Fixed, thanks.
+2
Level 68
Sep 6, 2017
According to wikipedia the whole Holy Roman Empire had 5 million at about 1200. But probably only a third of its population was then living in modern German territory. So if there has not been a plague between 1100 and 1200, wikipedia and your source are far from matching. Just said.
+55
Level ∞
Sep 6, 2017
It's almost like they didn't have a reliable census back then.
+1
Level 75
Dec 7, 2017
bazinga!

That is a very interesting map you've used to source the data

+3
Level 85
Sep 6, 2017
I'm surprised that Indonesia didn't make the grade. All those people didn't just go there from elsewhere since 1600, did they?
+3
Level 85
Sep 6, 2017
And now that I've taken the quiz "Most populous countries in 1800 AD" which claims that Indonesia had 16m people in 1800 AD, while this quiz claims it had fewer than 5m in 1600 AD - either there's big inconsistency here or that's a LOT of immigration (or intensive sex) in just 200 years!
+4
Level ∞
Sep 6, 2017
Obvious mistake, now fixed. No intensive anything required. :)
+2
Level 71
Sep 8, 2017
Indonesia has 261 million now .... a rise of 245 million in 200+ years..... there is a lot of something going on!
+16
Level 63
Sep 10, 2017
And they're enjoying it.
+1
Level 64
Jan 18, 2022
I hope so.
+2
Level 67
Sep 6, 2017
Wow. Everyone made 20/20 including myself. It's absurd.
+2
Level 83
Sep 7, 2017
Pretty generous with the time limit. Easy to play process of elimination
+3
Level ∞
Sep 8, 2017
Changed it to 3 minutes
+1
Level 51
Sep 19, 2017
Pakistan in 1100..!! And Bangladesh in 600s ..:P
+1
Level 38
Mar 6, 2018
Bangladesh did not achieve independence until 1971
+32
Level 76
Mar 6, 2018
and it did not achieve modern-day status until today.
+1
Level 57
Mar 6, 2018
20/20... 1 sec left! That's a bloody one.
+1
Level 60
Mar 6, 2018
India divided as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1900s. There was no such country as Pakistan and Bangladesh before 1947.
+15
Level 78
Mar 7, 2018
Yes, but the quiz is asking for the modern-day countries whose territory first reached 5 million people in history. For example, the area now known as Bangladesh first reached 5 million people in 600, even though it was not an independent country at that point.
+9
Level 83
Mar 7, 2018
There's only one country on this entire list that was a country on the date given (the United Kingdom). There was a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1600. There was a dynastic federation called "Rus" (centered in Kiev, Ukraine) in 1200. None of the others even come close.
+1
Level 83
Sep 5, 2021
Whatever. I was trying to be generous in my definition of national continuity. I am usually more stingy on this subject. If you want to discount the UK/England, too, that's fine with me.
+1
Level 65
Jan 14, 2020
Didn't go to the Americas at all. Got everything else 18/20
+1
Level 44
Jan 15, 2020
Yeah I had no idea Peru and Mexico were so populated.
+1
Level 76
Sep 5, 2021
The arrival of Europeans and more importantly their diseases did some major damage to the total population numbers, but their plentiful food sources and domestication of various crops and animals could sustain a very large number of people.
+1
Level 62
Sep 5, 2021
Corn agriculture was very productive
+9
Level 78
Jan 14, 2020
No Ethiopia on the list probably surprised me the most
+1
Level 59
Jan 14, 2020
Missed Peru and DR Congo
+3
Level 72
Dec 25, 2020
You mean across the huge territory of Brazil, there weren't 5 million before 1600?
+3
Level ∞
Aug 26, 2021
According to the source, there weren't 5 million in Brazil until the 1800s.
+4
Level 57
Sep 5, 2021
Don’t forget, an awful lot of Brazil is rainforest, and that’s really not land capable of taking any major population centres at all!

(Unless you remove all the trees, of course!)

+3
Level 44
Sep 5, 2021
Brazil had native tribes, but they werent' as populous as the incas or aztecas. That is because of the two rainforests (Amazonia and Mata Atlantica).

Also, the brazilian population started to grow after Portugal started to bring slaves from their african colonies. However, it wasn't until the mid-1800s, with imigrations and late industrialization, that the population increased substantially.

+1
Level 33
Sep 6, 2021
bangladesh

?

thanz for the info

+1
Level 44
Apr 25, 2022
There were no turks in Anatolia until the 1200s, so Greece should be on this list instead of Turkey.
+6
Level 70
May 2, 2022
What does this mean? In 200 BC, there were 5 million people living within the limits of modern Turkey, so it's on this quiz. Who lived there is completely irrelevant.
+1
Level 44
May 17, 2022
I did not expect Peru or any other South American country when Brazil did not work
+1
Level 51
Jul 17, 2022
Inca empire. But I didn't remembered then, only Mexico, because I remembered the aztecs/mexicas.
+1
Level 39
May 17, 2022
Here’s some reasoning for some of the weirder answers

Peru because of the Incas

Mexico because Aztecs/lots of civilizations settled there

Most of mainland Europe has something to do with the Romans

+2
Level 71
Sep 4, 2022
The Inca weren't a big thing in 1300. The reasoning behind all these answers is just that there were quite a lot of people in these places...