Sunday, January 25, 2009

World Population Density

Click image for very big version, from Wikipedia

This is a fascinating map, worth studying in some detail.  Most of the people in the world inhabit about 20% of the land.  More than half the land is essentially empty.  Add the ocean and that makes the planet about 87% uninhabited by humans.

The pockets are interesting too.  Most of Brazil's population of 190 million lives on or near the east coast.  Columbia is suprisingly dense, but to the west of the mountains.  North America (including Mexico) is overwhelmingly urban.

Africa's population is clumped:
  • Nigeria and the south coast of West Africa
  • A band running from Nairobi around the top of Lake Victoria through Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi
  • Ethiopia
  • Khartoum
  • Malawi
  • The east half of South Africa
  • The lower Nile
  • The North African coast between Adagir and Tunis
The Mid East is clumped in surprising ways (at least to me)
  • Saudi Arabia's 27 million are clumped around the lower west coast, running into the west quarter of Yemen (pop 23 million)
  • Israel and Lebanon are suprisingly dense given their relatively small populations.  
  • I had no idea that most of the people in Syria live on the coast.  I thought they were mostly in Damascus.  
  • Aside from Istanbul, the Turkish population (72 million) is spread pretty evenly through the country.  
  • Iraq's 24 million people reside almost entirely between Badhad and Basra.
  • Everyone in Iran (65 million) lives in the west of the country, the eastern half is almost empty.
Asia also has a few suprises.
  • Beyond the Urals, most Russians live near the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
  • There is a pretty big clump of people in a small band of Central Asia around Tashkent through to Almay.
  • Although dense everywhere, India (1.14 billion) is dominated by the Ganges valley and especially the delta.
  • South India has a distinct population, ethnicly, and linguistically.  The multiple clusters in the South suggest a coherent sub-nation.
  • In Pakistan (172 million), I expected most people to live in the lower part of the Indus valley, but apart from a couple of big cities like Karachi and the areas right around the river, people in the southern half of the country are scarce.  Everyone lives in the northern quarter, especially the Peshawer - Lahore corridor and the upper part of the Indus.  
  • Afghanistan is another country that swallows up its population, looking at the map, you would never guess this is a country of almost 33 million people.
  • South-East Asia has a combination of big cities and extensive agracultural populations, with empty mountainous regions.  The biggest clusters are in Vietnam, which has a population of 86 million.
  • Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country (237 million), has an insane density on the island of Sumatra.  Much of the rest, aside from Java and a few clumps in Borneo and the Celebs, is nearly empty.  Although the Celebs are surprisingly dense on the west side.
  • That trend continues South and East.  New Guinea (~7.5 million)has a very low density, and Austrailia's 30 million almost dissapear into its vastness.  
  • The Phillipines (96 million) are dense, like Japan and Korea.  
  • Most of the Japanese population (127 million) lives in south-west Honshu and the northern part of Kyushu
  • China (1.33 billion) is interesting.  Everyone lives in the Eastern third, with the rest being almost empty.  The empty areas are made up of Tibet and the Gobi desert (2nd biggest after the Sahara).  Otherwise, China has four main population areas: The south coast, Sichwan in the center, the Han heartland (Bejing, Wuhan, Nanjing, Xian, Shangai), and Manchuria in the north.
Europe, on the other hand, is exactly what I expected.  Draw a triangle from Manchester to Paris and Berlin and you have half the European population .  The cities, especially near the lower Rhine, run into each other, creating a meta-metropolis.  Much like, but bigger than the Boston - Washington meta-metropolis in the US.

Bonus: 30 biggest countries on Earth by population.  Some of these numbers are different than the ones above, both higher and lower.  Canada is #34.  The top 10 countries comprise 58% of the world population.

Rank Country Population
1 China 1,335,962,132
2 India 1,143,590,000
3 USA 305,683,000
4 Indonesia 229,331,501
5 Brazil 190,571,000
6 Pakistan 165,458,000
7 Bangladesh 158,665,000
8 Nigeria148,093,000
9 Russia 141,864,046
10 Japan 127,704,000
11 Mexico 106,682,500
12 Philippines 90,457,200
13 Vietnam 87,375,000
14 Germany 82,062,200
15 Ethiopia 79,221,000
21DR Congo62,636,000
25South Korea48,224,000
26South Africa47,850,700