An IP address is a unique string of numbers that identifies each device — computers, printers and tablets — on the Internet and allows them to communicate with one another. Like your home address, which is where you receive snail mail, your IP address is where you receive email and other digital information.
Because IP addresses are assigned to computers and other devices that communicate online, all countries that use the Internet have IP addresses. By far the country with the largest number of IP addresses is the United States at an estimated 1.6 trillion IP addresses. China is a distant second at an estimated 326 million IP addresses.
The country with the fewest IP addresses? The four volcanic islands that make up the Pitcairn Islands at a mere four IP addresses.
Fun Fact: the us and china by ip address
The US is the IP address giant at an estimated 1,597,103,581 IP addresses, dwarfing our total estimated population of 325,642,573. That’s more than four IP addresses assigned for every single American.
Compare that to China, the country with the second-largest number of IP addresses at 337,873,910. It’s estimated that a whopping 1,386,148,595 people live in China — which calculates to under a quarter of the population even using the Internet.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a way to hide your IP address to protect your identity, country of residence or sensitive data. With a VPN, you connect your computer, tablet or other device to the Internet through a server owned by your VPN provider, allowing you to browse privately without the worry of phishers or hackers.
Another benefit of a VPN is the ability to “geo-spoof” your location to access services that may not be available in your country or while traveling. Say that you’re a subscriber to a streaming service that restricts available titles by country. While vacationing, you discover that the movie you began watching before the flight is no longer available in the country you’re visiting. You can unblock this content with a VPN that reports your location as your home country.
While your IP address isn’t immediately known to the public, it’s not difficult to find it. Your IP address is typically recorded when you visit a website or send email.
But even then, it’s only that: your IP address. Only your Internet service provider (or ISP) can use your IP address to identify your name and address. That’s because you’re a paying customer to your ISP and they keep your personal information on record for billing purposes.