The title of this article will be interpreted to mean that a set of references to various on line sources of population data is called for. References to published texts would not be the best thing to offer because texts do not refresh or update very well.
Wikipedia is an attempt to create a “people’s dictionary”, where citizens may write articles and provide data. There has been general controversy surrounding the accuracy and factuality of information in Wikipedia, since errors have been pointed out, and pranksters have even succeeded in posting bogus articles. Wikipedia, however, is one of the most comprehensive and best on line sources for entry level information on a topic PLUS references to more comprehensive and reliable sources. In this case, Wikipedia’s population listings note refers the researcher directlly to the website of the source, and the source PDF document.
After being let go in 2002, Larry Sanger who was one of the founders of Wikipedia, immediately set out to create an improved version of Wikipedia, called “Citizendium”, which is still under construction, and in very basic beta form. Citizendium is dedicated to improving controls over the factuality and quality of the material that is put up there.
Yahoo Countries provides an interactive page with links to population data and census data for every country in the world.
The United Nations Population Division (cited in the Wikipedia Article) collects population data and provides an interactive search program.
The US Census Bureau offers “Population Finder” for the United States in an interactive program. At the US Census Bureau site, there are many other collections of information, as the Bureau conducts a continuous round of surveys and other data collections during the time between the official ten year censuses.
In summary, it is best to refer to official sources as well as to multiple sources for population data. Unofficial sites, such as “Larry’s Population Blog” are not highly recommended, but government and international agencies which have enormous resources and programs for collecting census and population data are the best bet. Figures will never agree, since different censuses and surveys, conducted over different periods, and using different methodologies, will result in some disagreement.
The references described above may offer various ways of looking at the data, and may provide more or less information about how the data was collected, some of the more important and salient issues about population, and references to other sources.