How many addresses are there in the world?

A question inspired by my work on OpenAddresses.. How many addresses are there in the world? By “address” I mean something that should be geocodable to a specific lat/lon, like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500. Normal people might define an address as something you can get mail delivered to, or tell a taxicab.

One address per two people. That’s the estimate Tom Lee came up with by comparing sizes of OpenAddress data we have to population. It’s not a bad estimate!

The confounding factor is that “address” is a somewhat first world concept, I imagine there’s fewer unambiguous addresses in rural / third world places. There’s a lot of the world where naming locations is much more loosely defined, “go to Tegaljaya village, go towards the mountain from the crossroads, turn left at the big banyan tree, and then five houses down”. OTOH I think every country in the world has mail delivery, which means there is some sort of system for finding people. Should do more research.

One thought on “How many addresses are there in the world?

  1. Hey we had addresses in the second (by your reactionary parlance) world! And check the 70’s vintage ‘adapt the human to the machine (eventually reinvented by the bourgeois Palm)’ OCR-able postal code field.

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