The meteoric rise happened mostly over the past two decades. While most countries showed steady growth and relatively little change in ranking, China and India leapfrogged the lot to claim second and third place.
China’s modern history has had periods of turbulence to say the least, but the economic and social reforms of Deng Xiaopeng in the 1980s are clearly paying dividends.
This growth has been inextricably linked to a booming population, but as population growth trends now show signs of dropping off, the economic growth looks set to continue — at least into the immediate future.
Previously in the Chinese edition of "Boy, that escalated quickly": 20 years of Shanghai's insane subway expansion, in one GIF.