How Much Land Is There On Earth? - Total, Inhabitable, Arable, Agricultural & Cultivated

How Much Land Is There On Earth, & What Is It Used For?

This is a guide about how much land there is on earth.

Below we’ve outlined some of the more important land quantity and land usage stats such as total land, habitable land, agricultural land and arable land.

We’ve also noted what arable land is used for, and countries that have the most cultivated land in total.

Note that these numbers are estimates, and are to be used as a general guide only.

 

Summary – How Much Land Is There On Earth?

  • About 29% of the total surface of the earth is land (the rest is water)
  • Of that, there is habitable land (that we can live on) and non habitable land, and agricultural (including land that livestock can be farmed on) and arable land (more fertile land with topsoil for growing crops)
  • About 37% of the Earth’s land surface is agricultural land, and 11% arable
  • Most of the agricultural land we use is used for livestock (about 77%), and a much smaller % is used for crops (about 23%)
  • Surprisingly though, most of the World’s caloric consumption supply comes from plant based food, and most of the protein consumption supply comes from plant based food (as opposed to dairy and meat)
  • There is still some farmable land left on Earth, but there could be access and practical farming challenges involved in using some of it it

 

How Much Land Is There On Earth/In The World In Total?

  • Of the land’s total surface, about 29% of that surface is land, and 71% is ocean

The quantities that make up those %’s are:

  • Land – 149 million km², or 92.5 million mi.²
  • Ocean – 361 million km², or 224.3 million mi.²

– OurWorldInData/FAO

You can read more about the how much water there is on earth in this guide.

 

How Much Habitable Land Is There On Earth?

About 71% of the total land surface on earth is habitable, with the rest being glaciers (10%) and barren land (19%).

The quantities that make up those %’s are:

  • Habitable Land – 104 million km², or 64.6 million mi.²
  • Glaciers – 15 million km², or 9.32 million mi.²
  • Barren Land – 28 million km², 17.3 million mi.²

– OurWorldInData/FAO

 

How Much Agricultural/Farmable Land Is There On Earth?

Agricultural land includes arable land for crops, but also land that can be used for rearing livestock.

 

  • According to World Bank data, in 2015, approximately 37% of the world’s land surface was agricultural land.

– data.worldbank.org

 

  • Roughly between 32 and 36 million square kilometers (12 and 14 million square miles) of land is used to raise livestock

– Sciencing/University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

How Much Arable Land Is There On Earth?

Arable land just includes land that can be used for growing crops, and not livestock rearing land.

 

  • According to World Bank data, in 2015, approximately almost 11% of the world’s land surface was arable land.

– data.worldbank.org

 

  • Approximately 17.6 million square kilometers (6.8 million square miles) of land is used to grow crops

– Sciencing/University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

What Is The World’s Habitable Land Used For?

  • About 50% of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, 37% for forests, 11% for shrubland, 1% for urban development, and 1% is freshwater

– OurWorldInData/FAO

 

The quantities that make up those %’s are:

  • Agriculture – 51 million km², or 31.6 million mi.²
  • Forests – 39 million km², or 24.2 million mi.²
  • Shrubs – 12 million km², or 7.4 million mi.²
  • Urban – 1.5 million km², or 0.93 million mi.²
  • Freshwater – 1.5 million km², or 0.93 million mi.²

 

What Is The World’s Agricultural Land Used For?

  • Of the world’s land that is used for agriculture, about 77% is used for livestock rearing/meat and dairy production, and 23% is used for growing crops.

– OurWorldInData/FAO

 

The quantities that make up those %’s are:

  • Livestock – 40 million km², or 24.8 million mi.²
  • Crops – 11 million km², or 6.83 million mi.²

Even with the above numbers, it’s interesting to note that 83% of the world’s caloric consumption supply comes from plant based food, whilst only 17% comes from meat and dairy production. 

Likewise, about 67% of the world’s protein consumption supply comes from plant based food, whilst only 33% comes from meat and dairy. 

– OurWorldInData/FAO

 

  • Current estimates (as of 2017) put the remaining amount of farmable land at about 27 million square kilometers (10.5 million square miles), most of which is concentrated in Africa and Central and South America. 

– Sciencing

 

Of course, population growth significantly affects how much land we can or are using for agriculture at any one time.

 

What Is The World’s Arable Land Used For?

You can view a list of the world’s most valuable crops, and crop production by metric tonnes here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_valuable_crops_and_livestock_products

 

In order, some of the top value producing crops are (not including meat and dairy):

  1. Rice, paddy
  2. Wheat
  3. Soybean
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Sugarcane
  6. Maize (corn)
  7. Potatoes
  8. Vegetables (not listed elsewhere)
  9. Grapes
  10. Cotton
  11. Apples
  12. Bananas
  13. Cassava (yuca)
  14. Mangos, Mangosteens, Guava
  15. Coffee
  16. Palm Oil
  17. Onion, dry
  18. Beans, dry and green
  19. Peanuts
  20. Olives

– Wikipedia/FAO

 

What Do Different Countries Use Their Cultivated Land For?

You can view a list of land use statistics by country here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_use_statistics_by_country 

 

In order, the countries with the most total cultivated land area are:

  1. India
  2. United States
  3. China
  4. Russia
  5. Brazil
  6. Canada
  7. Australia
  8. Indonesia
  9. Nigeria
  10. Argentina
  11. Ukraine
  12. Sudan
  13. Mexico
  14. Kazakhstan
  15. Turkey
  16. Pakistan
  17. France
  18. Thailand
  19. Iran
  20. Ethiopia

– Wikipedia/CIA World Factbook

 

Will We Have Enough Agricultural Land To Grow Food In The Future?

Read more in this guide about the future availability and capacity of agricultural land to grow/produce food into the future.

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/agricultural-land-by-global-diets ( by Hannah Ritchie)

2. https://data.worldbank.org/

3. https://sciencing.com/much-earths-land-farmable-16685.html

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_valuable_crops_and_livestock_products

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_use_statistics_by_country

6. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS

7. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.ARBL.ZS?view=chart 

8. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/how-much-land-in-the-world-is-used-for-agriculture-do-we-have-enough-arable-agricultural-land-left-for-food-other-resources-in-the-future/

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