Most Populous Modern-Day Countries in 1 AD

Name the modern-day countries whose current territory had the highest population in the year 1 A.D.
Estimates based on this map
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: March 19, 2022
First submittedSeptember 6, 2017
Times taken46,006
Average score75.0%
Rating4.96
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Population
Country
55 m
China
36 m
India
8 m
Turkey
7 m
Italy
5 m
France
4 m
Egypt
4 m
Iran
Population
Country
3 m
Germany
3 m
Japan
3 m
Spain
2 m
Afghanistan
2 m
Algeria
2 m
Bangladesh
2 m
Greece
Population
Country
2 m
Indonesia
2 m
Mexico
2 m
Nigeria
2 m
Pakistan
2 m
Sudan
2 m
Syria
+12
Level 76
Sep 7, 2017
Luckily, the countries with the same estimated population are listed in alphabetical order. Otherwise, I would never have guessed the least guessed one.
+6
Level 82
Dec 22, 2017
Wish I'd noticed that. I did get the least guessed one, but not the second least guessed one.
+5
Level 60
Sep 8, 2017
First attempt beat 1% and got 1 point, second attempt beat 60% and got 4 points, third attempt thanks for the 5 points and the free education! And thanks for the generous time for old dummies like me!
+5
Level 60
Dec 22, 2017
Honesty !!!! great work wish you high scores onward
+2
Level 58
Sep 10, 2017
Why Mexico?
+23
Level 68
Sep 12, 2017
Why not Mexico?
+17
Level 69
Sep 13, 2017
Mayans.
+25
Level 84
Dec 22, 2017
Civilization started in these places first and in this order:

1. Mesopotamia or the Hilly Flanks, the area also sometimes called the Levant, first concentrated into major population centers around the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile river valleys.

2. China, first concentrated around the Yangtze and Yellow river valleys and Pearl river delta.

3. India/Pakistan, first concentrated around the Indus river valley.

4. Mexico (Olmecs, Aztecs) and Peru (Incas)

The Mesopotamian civilization got the earliest start and had grown and expanded the most by 1 AD. The Mesopotamian/Western core had also shifted westward by this time. First to Greece, and then to Rome. The Greeks conquered and Hellenized the entire ancient world from Eastern Europe (Serbia) to Central and Southern Asia (Afghanistan, India). The Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans colonized all of southern Europe and the coastline of the Mediterranean.

+25
Level 84
Dec 22, 2017
So.. step one: guess every country that is large and/or hospitable to ancient type civilizations either on or around these original civilization cores (Iraq, Egypt, China, Pakistan, India, Mexico, Peru).

step two: knowing that Western Civ got a head start and had spread more by this time, and also that its core had shifted multiple times, also guess every large and/or hospitable country on or around the areas Western Civ had colonized or moved to (Greece, Iran, Turkey, Italy, everywhere from Spain to Afghanistan). Also guess the countries immediately peripheral to the two other older cores (Bangladesh, Japan).

That leaves only Nigeria. Some anthropologists have speculated that Nigeria may have also been another cradle of civilization where civilization developed independent of the other cores. If you knew that you could guess it. If you didn't, then just guessing the largest most populous countries today would have got you the answer soon enough.

+2
Level 45
Dec 22, 2017
Aztecs and Mayans
+2
Level 47
Sep 14, 2019
One of the first civilizations started there, like the Olmecs, Aztecs, Maya, etc.
+1
Level 48
May 3, 2022
Maize.
+1
Level 84
Dec 22, 2017
Easy
+1
Level 45
Dec 22, 2017
how could we possibly know the population of Mexico in the 1st century AD when it wasn't discovered for nearly another 1500 years
+10
Level 67
Dec 22, 2017
For that matter, all these estimates were surely very "rough". Don't think the world census takers were knocking on doors or waiting for the forms to be mailed in.
+12
Level 73
Dec 22, 2017
Yeah, not a single person knew Mexico was even there! How on could we possibly know that the population was in the millions?
+3
Level 67
Dec 23, 2017
1AD census taker = great premise for Mel Brooks or Zucker Bros.film.
+26
Level 73
Sep 12, 2019
If a tree falls in a forest and there are no Europeans around to hear...
+4
Level 62
May 18, 2021
Umm... the 2 million people who lived there knew about it
+4
Level 31
Jul 1, 2021
That's the joke
+18
Level ∞
Jun 3, 2019
Leaving aside the obvious fact that Mexico was discovered by Native Americans thousands of years ago, I believe that the methods used to estimate its historical population are largely archeological in nature.
+4
Level 64
Dec 23, 2017
I somehow forgot Greece.....
+4
Level 55
Dec 24, 2017
GODDAMIT AFGHANISTAN
+1
Level 47
Oct 30, 2018
i know, right??? how
+15
Level 80
Sep 12, 2019
That's what the Soviets said
+5
Level 35
Sep 12, 2019
And the Americans
+2
Level 80
Sep 18, 2019
And yet the American empire survives
+2
Level 64
Nov 13, 2021
^ Well this aged well
+1
Level 55
Sep 12, 2019
This quiz is so silly... You're telling me Germany in 1 AD had 4 million people, but all of Russia didn't have even 2?
+28
Level 67
Sep 12, 2019
twas cold and there was no vodka yet
+5
Level 84
Sep 14, 2019
That seems likely.
+2
Level 55
Dec 17, 2020
Yes
+1
Level 46
Jun 17, 2022
yes that is exactly what they are saying
+1
Level 50
Oct 13, 2019
Nigeria was difficult to guess but did it it quite in time in a thrilling way. Cool quiz
+1
Level 51
Feb 3, 2020
Always miss Bangladesh. Every time
+1
Level 31
Jul 1, 2021
Yay 100%!
+1
Level 67
Feb 21, 2022
It seems there is a mistake: 1 million pop should go from country #7 to country #6 following the map given in caveat. Otherwise, great quiz and great series!
+2
Level ∞
Mar 19, 2022
Fixed.
+1
Level 66
Apr 17, 2022
Algeria surprised me
+1
Level 67
May 2, 2022
i wish we were so few today
+1
Level 54
May 3, 2022
I assumed that the countries had to exist then and read by area instead of population.