A Harry Potter essay
A question asked by a lot of Harry Potter fans - well, by myself at any rate - is: how many wizards are there? Based on the information given in canon, it is possible to calculate to some degree of accuracy the wizarding population of Great Britain and Ireland.
Let us take the number of students at Hogwarts as around one thousand. Unfortunately, even this causes problems. Although Joanne Rowling has stated that this is the size of the school, many fans will argue that other information contradicts this. Personally, I don’t listen to these arguments. Yes, most of the students aren’t named. We know of eight students in Gryffindor in Harry’s year, when rightfully there should be around thirty (which, incidentally, is quoted as the number of students in Umbridge’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class). So - where are the others? They have simply been left out for reasons of simplicity. I cannot think of a single school story in which all of the main character’s classmates are described even in the briefest of details. Put simply, we don’t need to know. It’s far easier just to boil down all the names of students in a particular group to just one or two. In several cases, Parvati and Lavender could be any Gryffindor girl, Hannah Abbott and Ernie Macmillan any Hufflepuffs, and so on. Just try substituting the names for new characters - how much difference does it really make? Each house is split into halves, and these can go together to produce classes where more than one house is present. And this is getting complicated and isn’t really relevant, so I’ll stop.
So, one thousand students (though personally I favour a number of more like 800). Hogwarts is definitely the only wizarding school in Britain, and we can imagine that most if not all teenage wizards and witches go there. Based on UK demographics, this should under normal circumstances lead to a total population of 13,000 wizards in Britain and Ireland (which are apparently one country in wizarding terms). But of course, wizards live longer, so this could go as high as thirty thousand, or one in 2000 people have magical ability. 30,000 wizards and witches in Britain. Simple.
By the way, this fits with the population of my hometown and surrounding villages, where there are about 30,000-40,000 people and three high schools, each with a student body numbering around a thousand.
We can extend the principle to work out wizarding populations for other countries. If we take for granted that the wizard-Muggle ratio is the same across the planet (which it may or may not actually be), the countries below would have the following wizarding populations:
Whole world - 3 million
China - 610,000
United States - 132,000
France - 29,000
Bulgaria - 4,200
Luxembourg (‘always a strong Quidditch nation’, Quidditch Through The Ages) - 205
Liechtenstein (see the exams in Order of the Phoenix for details of what these people get up to) - 16
Vatican City - 0 (unless, of course, there are a few wizarding cardinals resident there)
This means that the Quidditch World Cup Final in Goblet of Fire was attended by some one in thirty wizards (100,000 total), though this is quite small compared to the proportion of Muggles who watch major sporting events on television. But it’s a lot easier for wizards to get around ...
For the record, as Muggleborns seem to make up about 20% of the population (although this is only based on the small amount of evidence in the books), we can presume that the wizarding population is rising faster than the Muggle population. We can also work out that there is a 0.004% chance of two Muggles giving birth to a wizarding child: hardly a great number. As to the population of Hogsmeade, we can only guess. I doubt it’s a particularly large village, as keeping it hidden from the Muggles. Gladrags Wizardwear obviously considers it on a par with London and Paris (the World Cup again), perhaps giving it a population of 2,500 or so.
Additionally, the magical world’s population is probably upped quite a bit by non-human beings like goblins and house elves, who might easily number another 30,000 in Britain again. I wouldn’t be surprised if creatures like these contribute a significant amount to the wizarding world’s infrastructure.
And that seems like a good place to end.
Copyright © James Baker 2005.