According to the most recent statistics of the International Amateur Radio Union, there are 2.6 million licensed radio ama teurs in the world. The list of countries, where about 90% of the world hams reside, may hold some surprises .

Japan has half of the world Amateur Radio population: 1.3 mil lion. The Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) has a membership of 194,000.

The United States has one-fourth of the world radio amateurs. Less than 30 years ago, the US was home to more than half of the world amateur population. However, at that time the total world ham population was barely more than 400,000! Amateur Radio has grown in the US but has been growing even faster in a number of other countries, not just Japan. ARRL membership is about 172,000.

Thanks to reunification, Germany has the largest number of ama teurs of any European country. The Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) has a remarkable 77% of the licensed amateurs in Germany as members; nearly 50,000 of its 57,000 members are licensed.

The United Kingdom has nearly as many amateurs as Germany. The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) has a somewhat smaller, but still impressive 44% of licensees as members. The total member ship of the RSGB is about 30,000.

Indonesia’s position on the list may surprise you, since Amateur Radio barely existed there as little as 25 years ago, but it would not surprise anyone who attended the 1991 IARU Region 3 Conference in Bandung. Organisasi Amatory Radio Indonesia (ORARI) is a well organised and effective national association in a country where radio communication is very important, and member ship in ORARI is compulsory to hold an amateur license. According to ORARI, its membership figures are trending downward for rea sons that sound similar to those that affected Amateur Radio in the US following the CB boom of the late 70s. Still, Indonesia is in no danger of losing its top-10 status.

Spain is another country where Amateur Radio has experienced rapid growth in recent years. For more on Spain, see Hows DX? and Happenings this month.

Our northern neighbour, Canada, is in a growth spurt, thanks to recent changes in its licensing structure.

Accurate statistics for Russia are difficult to come by at present, but the estimate of 38,000 is probably close enough to establish its relative position. A new national organisation, Soyuz Radiolyubitelej Rossii (SRR), was voted into membership in the IARU in 1994.

Italy has about 30,000 amateurs, making it either the fourth or fifth largest country in Europe in terms of amateur population, depending on whether you count Russia (many of whose amateurs are in Asia) as a European country.

Finally, Brazil is the lone South American country on the top 10 list, although in fairness to Argentina it must be said that our LU friends are close behind, in position number 11, with 24,000 licensees.

If you look at the statistics in The Radio Amateur Callbook you will note that some of their figures, particularly for Japan and Indonesia, are dramatically lower than those given here. The reason is that the Callbook figures only include those amateurs for whom they have address listings.

By ITU Region, the IARU statistics show there are 417,000 ama teurs in Region 1 (Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union), 780,000 in Region 2 (the Americas), and 1.4 million in Region 3 (the rest of Asia and Oceania).

Who does the IARU count as a radio amateur? In general, only those individuals who hold both an operators license and a sta tion license are counted. In Japan, for instance, operators licenses are issued for life and the total number of operators licenses ever issued is well over two million! Station licenses, on the other hand, have five-year terms and are a more accurate indicator of potential activity.

A country that should soon join the Top 10 is Thailand, where 92,000 operators licenses have been issued and 38,400 have re quested a station license!


1 Japan 1.300.000 om
2 USA    632.000 om
3 Germany      64.000 om
4 England      62.000 om
5 Indonesia      60.000 om
6 Spain      47.000 om
7 Canada      44.000 om
8 Italy      30.000 om
9 Brasile      27.000 om
  Hungary        8.500 om

At the end of ’99 = 2.700.000 om in the World !
UP countries = Japon, Spain, Indonesia.
DOWN countr. = Italy, England, France.

REGION 3 IARU = 1.450.000 om
REGION 2 IARU = 800.000 om
REGION 1 IARU = 450.000 om


Membership DARC (Germany)  77% of total
RSGB (England)  44% of total
ARI (Italy)  75% of total
ARRL (USA)  28% of total
JARL (Japan)  15% of total


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