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How many hams in the world?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KB9ZLB, Feb 20, 2009.

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  1. KB9ZLB

    KB9ZLB Ham Member QRZ Page

    This may seem a little weird, but I've been asked this question quite a few times and I can't find the answer.

    Approximately how many Hams are there world wide and/or where can I find this information?

    Thanks all for your time; much appreciated.

    Heather, KB9ZLB
  2. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Roughly 3 million. Google for articles related to it. You won't find exact numbers anywhere.
  3. KB9ZLB

    KB9ZLB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks! :) I appreciate your time!

    Have a great day!
  4. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The numbers get fuzzy because there are differences in what we call a ham.

    Elementary school kids in China participate in 'Amateur Radio' as part of their school curriculum. They study radio theory and actually build some sophisticated receivers, which they use for 'fox hunting' which is the real purpose of the instruction. Is this ham radio? If so, there are a billion hams in China.

    For years, we didn't know how to count the million + no-code hams in Japan, because under International Law they weren't really hams, either. But you'd work thousands of them on 10 meters when the band was open. License numbers in Japan have dropped in recent years so I'm not sure if they're still over a million or not.

    There are also cases where we suspect the government involved considers this to be a state secret.
  5. KB9ZLB

    KB9ZLB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow, those are very interesting points.

    First let me begin by saying that I never realized that radio was part of the Chinese curriculum. That is very, very interesting indeed.

    Second, I'm going to pry a bit. Why were the licensed yet no-code hams in Japan not really considered hams? Inquiring minds want to know...

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. It's greatly appreciated!

    Have a wonderful Friday and thanks again!
    -Heather, KB9ZLB
  6. KD0DKI

    KD0DKI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just tell the questions askers "42" refer them to the Hitch Hikers Guide. :D
  7. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It also explains why the Chinese are cleaniing our collective clocks.

  8. G0GQK

    G0GQK Ham Member QRZ Page

    As suggested, about three million. Somebody should know the exact figure because every one is government licensed, and governments like numbers.
    Not many at QRZ though because they spent most of their time on a computer keyboard. he he !

  9. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why not do a count? I'll start:

    One ...
  10. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    Are we counting Chinese hams or just counting?
  11. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...eleventy seven....
  12. KI4SYC

    KI4SYC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll take a nice Virginia Ham myself.

  13. BG7JSQ

    BG7JSQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very interesting indeed. I never received any radio training courses back in my school days and I don't think they are training my boy "fox hunting" at his school now. Maybe I should, as a ham operator, make such a suggestion to the principal on my next Parent Meeting. ;)

    Where is your source?
  14. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you marched all the Chinese Hams 4 abreast past a given point, how long would it take to parade them all?

    [In school, I remember being told that if they started marching all of the people in China past a post 8 abreast, they would never reach the end of the line because so many babies were born that the line would never end]
  15. W6SO

    W6SO Guest

    Heather -

    There may be other sources, but the one I am quoting is the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which has a web site at:

    The most recent year for which the IARU has a complete summary of data appears to be 2000, at which time they indicated a total of 2,986,772, worldwide (see: If you take the IARU data and assume a constant growth trend over the past 10 years, then the current total is probably more along the lines of 3.3 million. I suspect the IARU data is incomplete, as just a quick scan of their tabulation will show some significant gaps, such as countries which are known to have amateur programs but for which no totals are shown. Nevertheless, using the data provided, it appears that the world's total amateur population is highly concentrated, with the top 10 nations accounting for over 2.6 million licensees:

    1. Japan.........1,296,059
    2. USA..............679,864
    3. Thailand........141,241
    4. RO Korea.......141,000
    5. Germany.........79,666
    6. Taiwan...........68,692
    7. Spain.............58,700
    8. UK.................58,426
    9. Canada..........44,024
    10. Russia............38,000
    You have raised an interesting question and I suspect there is more complete data available somewhere, but I hope this helps somewhat.
  16. W6SO

    W6SO Guest

    Thanks to some updated information on China's amateur population from our colleague, Paul, BD7JSQ, I can update the worldwide figures as follows:

    Total number of amateur operators: approximately 3.4 million, with the top 10 nations accounting for almost 2.7 million licensees, based on IARU statistics:

    1. Japan.........1,296,059
    2. USA..............679,864
    3. Thailand........141,241
    4. RO Korea.......141,000
    5. China............106,000
    6. Germany.........79,666
    7. Taiwan...........68,692 *
    8. Spain.............58,700
    9. UK.................58,426
    10. Canada...........44,024
    (* Note: The IARU reports separate numbers for China and Taiwan, which is why they are reported separately here.)

    Also, for what it is worth, as I have looked at additional data, I am convinced that the total worldwide amateur population is, in fact, probably well over the 3.4 million figure, but I lack appropriate source data to offer a specific higher number.
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