Population density

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Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, humans in particular.


Biological population densities

Population density is a common biological measurement and is often used by conservationists as a more appropriate measure than absolute numbers. Low population densities may cause an extinction vortex, where low densities lead to further reduced fertility. This is referred to as the Allee effect, named after W. C. Allee, who first identified it. Examples of this may include:

  • Increased problems with locating mates in areas of low density.
  • Increased inbreeding in areas of low population density.
  • Increased susceptibility to catastrophic events in low population densities.

Different species will have different expected densities. For example R-selected species commonly have high population densities, while K-selected species may have lower population densities. Low population densities may be associated with specialised mate location adaptations such as specialised pollinators; as found in the orchid family (Orchidaceae).

Human population density

For humans, population density is the number of persons per unit of area (which may include or exclude(or potentially productive) or cultivated area. Commonly this may be calculated for a county, city, country, another territory, or the entire world.

For example, the world population is 6.5 Billion humans, and Earth's area is 510 million square kilometers (200 million square miles). Therefore the world-wide human population density is 6500 million / 510 million = 13 per km² (33 per mi²), or 43 per km² (112 per mi²) considering that humans live on land which form 150 million km² of the earth. This density rises with the population growth, and some people thinks there is a limit of what can support the Earth.

File:World population density.gif
World map of the population density in 1994

Several of the highest-density territories in the world are very small city-states, micronations or dependencies. These territories share a relatively small area and an exceptionally high urbanization level, with an economically specialized city population drawing also on rural resources outside the area, illustrating the difference between high population density and overpopulation.

The most densely populated large state is Bangladesh, where 134 million people live in a highly agricultural area around the lower Ganges river, with a national population density in excess of 900 persons per square kilometre. The Indonesian island of Java has a similar density, with 114 million people, resulting in about 856 people per square kilometre.

Cities with exceptionally high population densities are often considered to be overpopulated, though the extent to which this is the case depends on factors like quality of housing and infrastructure or access to resources. Most of the largest densely-populated cities are in southern and eastern Asia, though Cairo and Lagos in Africa also fall into the category.

City population is however, heavily dependent on the definition used for the urban area: densities will be far higher for the central municipality than when more recently-developed and as yet administratively unincorporated suburbs are included, as in the concepts of agglomeration or metropolitan area, the latter including sometimes neighbouring cities.

See also

74% of the world's population live on 5% of the earth's surface, which is 13% of the land area. 67% of people live within 500 km of an ocean. All large concentration are in the northern hemisphere between 10 and 55 N, with the exception of parts of South East Asia.

Population density= POPULATION/AREA EX: 270,000,000 people/9,166,605 sq. km = 29 people per square kilometer

External links

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