Do you know much about Dar es Salaam? Perhaps you might only be vaguely aware of this remote coastal city in Tanzania. But by the time your grandchildren are your age, more people will live there than in all of France.
Population growth in Africa means that a whole load of places we currently consider unimportant are going to be big. Really, really big. Within 70 years, there are likely to be twice as many Nigerians as there will be Americans. Countries like Congo or Uganda will each have populations larger than the UK, Germany, Canada and Australia combined.
When you think of a great military power, I doubt Pakistan is the first country that springs to mind? And it’s not. Yet a country that could scarcely feed itself a generation ago now has submarines capable of firing cruise missiles. India and Pakistan together now have a greater nuclear capability than the UK.
Profound changes in the balance of demographic and military power are underway. Yet they seldom seem to merit a mention in a European media obsessed with Brexit or Donald Trump’s latest tweet.
All across the Western world, generations have grown up assuming that the natural order of things is to see those they elect strut their stuff on the world stage. At the G7 summits, the leaders of France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Canada rub shoulders with the leaders of America and Japan.
It is unlikely that four of these states would qualify to even attend a meeting of the world’s seven largest economies by the end of next decade.
Back in 1980, what was to become the European Union accounted for a third of global economic output, while China produced a paltry 2%. Today, Europe’s share of world economic output has fallen by half, while China has a larger economy than all of Europe combined.
It’s not only China that’s ascendant either. From Vietnam to Indonesia – even Ethiopia – countries that were economic nonentities only a decade or so ago have enjoyed stellar rates of growth. If this continues these economies will no longer be backwaters, but as important as any place in Europe.
In fact, the danger is that it’s Europe that becomes the backwater. Maybe you think I exaggerate?