Worldwide Top 30 for Internet Penetration Rate in 2010

My second post on this blog entitled Canada in the Worldwide Top 3 for Internet Penetration Rate, which is one of the most viewed, was about a worldwide ranking based on one of the most important macroeconomic indicators of innovation: “the Internet penetration rate”. This post did not generated lots of comments at the time, but many people find it useful to cite for the first steps of a presentation. However, with time, new data have become available and the shape of the ranking has changed. Using data from The Internet World Stats database, this post is an update of the Top 30 countries with the highest Internet penetration rate for nations with more than a million individuals, so here is the new Top 30 compared to the previous one of April 2009:

Jan. 2010 Jan. 2010 April 2009 April 2009
Countries Position Rate Position Rate
Norway 1 90.9% 2 87.7%
Sweden 2 89.2% 6 77.4%
Netherlands 3 85.6% 1 90.1%
Denmark 4 84.2% 14 68.6%
Finland 5 83.5% 15 68.6%
Australia 6 80.1% 5 79.4%
New Zealand 7 79.7% 4 80.5%
South Korea 8 77.3% 11 70.7%
United Kingdom 9 76.4% 16 68.6%
Japan 10 75.5% 7 73.8%
Switzerland 11 75.5% 13 69.0%
Canada 12 74.9% 3 84.3%
United States 13 74.1% 10 72.3%
Israel 14 72.8% 9 72.8%
Singapore 15 72.4% 25 58.6%
Austria 16 72.3% 27 56.7%
Spain 17 71.8% 20 63.3%
Belgium 18 70.0%
France 19 69.3% 26 58.1%
Hong Kong 20 69.2% 12 69.5%
Estonia 21 68.3% 23 58.7%
Ireland 22 67.3%
Germany 23 65.9% 19 63.8%
Taiwan 24 65.9% 17 67.2%
Malaysia 25 65.7% 24 59.0%
Slovakia 26 65.3%
Slovenia 27 64.8% 18 64.8%
Latvia 28 61.4%
United Arab Emirates 29 60.9%
Hungary 30 59.3%
Italy 51.7% 22 59.7%
Portugal 41.8% 8 72.9%
Bulgaria 36.7% 28 55.1%
Romania 33.4% 29 53.9%
Belarus 32.2% 21 61.9%
Jamaica ND 30 53.5%

The changes in the ranking are mainly due to two factors: (1) changes in the sources used by The Internet Worlwide Stats Database, and (2) natural growth. The new ranking includes all members of Scandinavia in the new top 5: Norway (ranked 1st, 90.9%), Sweden (ranked 2nd, 89.2%), Denmark (ranked 3rd, 84.2%) and Finland (ranked 5th, 83.5%). In terms of changes, 6 of the previous nations in the Top 10 are still in the Top10 (Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand & Japan).

Worldwide map that fits well with this article
Worldwide map that fits well with this article


In conclusion, Scandinavia and Oceania are still leaders in term of Internet Penetration rate while nations such as the Four Asian Tigers (South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong & Taiwan) should improve their position in the next few years even though the new ranking did not revealed strong improvements. However, even though this macroeconomic indicator is quite reliable to reflect a nation’s innovation, it is important to note that it tends to favor nations where the population is highly concentrated in urban areas. In this way, this ranking is a good complement to my post entitled The 10 Most Hi-Tech Cities in the World.

Happy new year to everyone and feel free to express what you think of this new ranking?

Jean-Francois Belisle

P.S.: The following blog post entitled Worlwide Internet Penetration Rate Part 3 is an update of both this post and this ranking.

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11 thoughts on “Worldwide Top 30 for Internet Penetration Rate in 2010”

  1. Hi JF,
    I think that Internet penetration rate is a number that can only increase or remain stable over a few years. The reasons are simple: Infrastructure improvements take time and demographic changes take even longer.

    When I look at the numbers, I see that some rates changed dramatically over 9 months, which makes me question of validity of the data. For example, Portugal went from 72.9% down to to 41.8%, Canada went from 84.3% down to 74.9% and Denmark went from 68.6% up to 84.2%.

    I would suggest removing the decimals in the data table since they could mislead someone into thinking that the numbers are precise.

    P.S. Thank you nonetheless for sharing this data

  2. Thanks for your comment Marc. I completely agree with your point that this number should generally only stay stable or increase. The drastic changes are generally associated with a change in the data sources and that was one point that I thought was important to share. The change for Portugal is certainly the most important and the strangest, validity of sources could be an issue like you mentioned.

    Concerning the decimal issue, I personally think that these numbers tend to be precise and letting the decimal is still crucial to distinguish between countries.

    To conclude, I think that the TRUE increase in internet penetration rate for a country will also grow hand-in-hand with an amelioration in terms of data quality.

  3. Cool posting JF. What I find interesting is that (according to the web site that you linked to), there are now a total of 1.5 billion “internet users” in the world. If there are 6 billion people in the world and 1 million are starving, that would mean that there are probably 4 more million to join the wired world. Given their income levels, I would guess that the internet user growth rate will fall. The overall life cycle growth rate of the curve is therefore very interesting.

    I wonder what % of the 1.5 billion users use Google! That is an interesting stat. Then, an interesting follow up would be what is the world’s 2nd most popular web site (assuming Google is #1).

  4. These numbers are very interesting, even though there is a huge difference between the two sources. I am a little bit surprised at the low number from France.

    Also, I might be slightly off topic, but I noticed that China is not part of this list, because their penetration rate is only 28%. On the other hand, they have 360 million users, which is 130 million more than the US. In the next 10 years, 300 million Chinese people will move from the campaigns to big cities, many of which will become Internet users. If they can raise their rate to 50%, they will probably have more users than all the countries listed in your top 30 combined !
    A wise guy could ask : “Are they really connected to the Internet, or just the Chinese Intranet ? ”

    Anyway, keep up the good work !

  5. @Bob. Thanks for your interesting comment. Sincerely, I totally agree that growth in Internet penetration rate will start to decline since it is statistically bounded to 100% and most modern are already near saturation. Like you said, I wonder when the 4 billions people left will join the wired world, they are still consider as untapped potential wired members, but for how long? Concerning the Google paradigm, I know in Canada Facebook is #2, is #3 and Youtube is #4, but globally what about social networks such as QZone and Orkut?

    @Jean-Francois. Thanks for your comment, nice to hear from you. I am also surprised by the low numbers from France, although I agree that France should not appear in the Top 10 list, around 60% seems low for me too. In relation to what you said, in the next few years, countries part of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) should heavily contribute to the worldwide growth and exhibit skyrocket growth. Concerning, the Google vs. China controversy, it is interesting to note that even though Google is controlling our lives in North America, China still don’t give a s**t about it.

  6. Jean-Francois,

    I am trying to get back to the base data you have used for your table above. The link provided shows penetration details from 2008 but nothing after that. Can you please confirm that they numbers actually reflect 2010 and not 2 years prior? Or, if there is more data available can you please direct me.

    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for your interest Josh. Unfortunately, this ranking may be affected by the availability of data. The data have changed since the publishing of this post and the ranking may change too. I noticed that on the Internet World Stats database some data are now from 2009 (i.e. Oceania) while some others are from 2010 (i.e. Europe).

  8. Thanks for the data about the usage of internet in different countries but I agree that stat has been changed and I am looking for it..Do you have any current data available or any other source where I can easily get it..I need it for the presentation..Please help!

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