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Map No. 293

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In 2006 there were an estimated 9.3 million people in prison worldwide at any one time. Half of them were held in just 3 territories: the United States 24%, China 17% and the Russian Federation 9%. Worldwide 0.15% of the population are in prison, that is one person in every 670.

The highest percentages of population that are imprisoned are in the United States, at 0.75%, and the Russian Federation, at 0.60%. The lowest rates of imprisonment are in Burkina Faso and Nauru. In both territories only 0.02% of the population is imprisoned.

The rate at which people are imprisoned varies widely and reflects different customs.

"The thoughts of a prisoner - they’re not free either. They keep returning to the same things." Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1962

Territory size shows the proportion of people living in prison worldwide that live there.

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