This commentary celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Population Geography Research Group (PGRG) of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographer’s (RGS-IBG) by drawing on journal articles within Area, The Geographical Journal and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers presented in the Virtual issue by the same name (https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/toc/10.1111/(ISSN)9999-0017.50yrs-pop-geography). It presents an introduction to the core research threads within Population Geography over the past half-century. The celebratory issue and editorial guides readers through diverse and prolific contributions to Population Geography scholarship within the RGS-IBG journals across three core themes: the spatio-demographic characteristics of populations, the mobility that connects these and emergent characteristics of places. This introduction is only a flavour of a vast and growing body of Population Geography research. Notwithstanding, it indicates how the sub-discipline has and will continue to shape debates on the study of population change to consider its complex nature, drivers, and consequences. Despite differences in methods and approaches, the sub-discipline unites to explore populations in space in an applied manner. This issue also highlights fundamental challenges going forward. Calls to decolonise the academy have resulted in questions of the structures through which we work—for Population Geography this means thinking about the diversity of voices, theories and approaches. The papers in this virtual issue thus provide a grounding backdrop of knowledge as we look forward to many more years of lively debate.