Distribution of Population

The uneven distribution of population in the world is its most dominant feature. There are over crowded areas on one hand and almost empty lands on the other. The world’s population had crossed 7 billion mark on October 31, 2011. Ten most populous countries of the world account for nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population. The most populous countries namely China, India and the U.S.A. account for 40% of world population white the remaining hundreds of countries have only 40% of the worlds populations. China has the largest population of 1,341 million followed by India’s 1210.2 million. Although in terms of population the USA ranks third in the world after India, there is a yawing gap of 901.5 million between the population of these two countries which is more than 2.9 times the total population of USA. Out of the most populous countries of the world, six are in Asia (China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan), one in North America (the USA) one in South America (Brazil) and one in Africa (Nigeria). Russian Federation has its territory both in Asia and Europe. China and India rank first and second in the world with respect to percentage of population. These two countries have 19.4 per cent and 17.5 per cent of the world’s total population. In other words, one in every 5 persons in the world lives in China and one in every 6 persons in India.

Population Density

Population density is an important measure to analyse population distribution. Arithmetic population density is a simple man-land ratio and is deed as number of persons living on a unit area of land. It is estimated that 90% of the world’s population is concentrated in 10% of its land area and the remaining 10% population is scattered over 90% of the area. About 33 per cent of the total land area of the earth is virtually uninhabited.

Areas of High Density

Areas having a population density of over 100 persons per square kilometer are known as areas of high density. The main areas of high density are Monsoon Asia, Europe and eastern part of United States of America.

Monsoon Asia or East Asia and South and South East Asia

This region includes China, India, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, Java island of Indonesia and Singapore. Fertile soil, sufficient rainfall and intensive rice cultivation are bases of high density of population in these areas. us, high density is based on agriculture and at places it ranges from 400 to 800 persons per sq. km and even more. Some of the countries such as Japan, India and China have witnessed large scale industrialisation and urbanisation which have further added to population density. Highest density is recorded in Singapore where nearly five thousands persons live per sq. km. Normally speaking, population density follows the intensity of rainfall.


A major part of population in Europe is based on mining, industries, trade and commerce and lives in urban areas. Themain area of high population density extends from English Channel in the west to Dnieper river in the east. This is known as population axis of Europe. This is also the main industrial belt of Europe e main countries included in this belt are Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, North France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, and Moscow region of Russia. The river valleys and coastal plains of Spain, Portugal, South France and Italy also have high density of population.

Eastern Coastal Region of North America

There has been a great concentration of population in the eastern coastal part of the United States of America and Canada. This is due to concentration of large scale immigrants from Europe who first settled in this region. Hence, this region experienced early development of urbanization and industrialisation which resulted in large scale concentration of population.

In most of the advanced countries, the major concentration of population is in a few urban areas. Industrialisation and modern technologies have modified settlement and density patterns over the past two centuries. Nearly three-quarters of the population in the developed countries now live in urban environments, with many more living in and around major metropolitan areas. Northern and Western Europe are among the most urbanized regions with more than 80 percent of their population living in urban areas. In North America about 70 percent people are city dwellers. City states such as Hong Kong and Singapore, which have virtually no rural or agricultural hinterlands, have practically all urban population.

While industrialisation and commercialisation processes caused a population shift from rural to urban areas, technologies created artificial environments in many modern cities. Rising from the deserts of southern California and Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Tucson are sprawling, rapidly growing metropolitan areas that are sustained only by importing water via complex systems of canals and aqua products.

Areas of Low Density

Areas having a population density of 1 to 2 persons per square kilometre are known as areas of low density. Such areas cover about 95 crore sq. km which is about three-fourth of the total surface area of the earth.

Areas of low density of population include the following regions:

Hot Deserts

Sahara, Kalahari, Atacama, West Australia, Arab etc. are hot deserts having very little rainfall. There is acute shortage of water and hence low density of population.

Extremely Cold Areas

These are polar regions which include northern part of Canada, Greenland, northern part of Siberia and the vast Antarctic Continent surrounding the south pole. Low temperature limits the growing season to a very short duration and most of the areas remain ice covered for most of the year. Therefore, these areas support low density of population. Antarctic continent is totally uninhabited.

Cold Deserts

These include dry areas of Central Asia. They are located in rain shadow zone away from sea and receive very little rainfall. Gobi desert is one of such area.

Equatorial region

Amazon basin of South America and Zaire basin of Africa are the main areas of equatorial region. These areas experience both high heat and high humidity which is harmful to human health. Diseases like malaria, jaundice, dysentery etc. are very common. This also leads to very dense growth of forests which leaves very little scope for human settlements.

Areas of Medium Density

Between the areas of very low and very high population density, there are areas of medium population density. Obviously, these areas do not form a continuous belt but are scattered in different parts of the world.

Some of the areas of medium density are described below:


South India, Western part of China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and plains of Tigris-Euphrates.


Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and adjoining parts of Russia.

United States of America and Australia

The central and western parts of these countries have medium density of population.

Africa, South America and Australia

Several areas of three southern continents have medium population density. ese include north-east Brazil, Venezuela, Central Chile, Mediterranean coastal part of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria and South Africa. Coastal areas and Murray-Darling basin of Australia also have medium density of population.


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