Seventeen Years Ago, 66% Of Internet Users Were In The U.S., Today It’s 13%

The Internet has truly become a global phenomenon over the past seventeen years:

In 1996, a full 66% of Internet users lived in the U.S. Seventeen years later, the country is only home to 13% of Internet users.

The largest chunk of web surfers now lives in Asia, home to 42% of users in 2012. Europeans also make up a sizeable portion of the global online population, representing 27% of all users.

Here’s the chart:



Very much underrepresented in the last chart, of course, is Africa, which accounts for 1/6th of the world’s population

FILED UNDER: Africa, Economics and Business, Science & Technology
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    100% of Internet users were Americans 25 years ago. That something can have gone from being used in a relative handful of laboratories, military bases, and universities to a worldwide necessity in just 25 years is quite amazing.

  2. DC Loser says:

    No wonder the NSA is so happy.

  3. Tillman says:

    Seventeen years ago, there was more violent crime.


  4. michael reynolds says:

    It’s amazing how fast a technology can spread if it provides lots and lots of naked pictures.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And its development is funded by the federal government out of defense spending and neither service providers nor service users are required to pay for the underlying technology.

  6. Tran says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    If Americans agree to pay us for using the world wide web, we would perhaps consider paying you for using the internet.

  7. Dave Schuler says:


    That’s sort of the opposite of the point I was making. If the protocols that make up the modern Internet (including HTTP) had been proprietary, I doubt that the Internet would have taken off the way it has. The earlier proprietary attempts had been curiosities or useful only to specialists.