Population Density Around the World

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  • 0:11 Population Density
  • 1:20 Factors Affecting Density
  • 2:52 Population Clusters
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will explain the concept of population density. In doing this, it will discuss sparsely versus densely populated areas. It will also identify the primary and secondary population clusters of the world.

Population Density

One of my husband's closest friends has been living in China for the past decade. Whenever he travels home to our rather rural area, he always remarks how shocked he is to remember how few people live here. This is a stark difference to his home in China, where the city streets are teeming with people. This contrast is an excellent example of the differences in population density found throughout the globe. Today's lesson will cover this topic as we discuss the concept of population density.

To begin, population density is a measurement of the number of people in an area, relative to the size of the area. When speaking of population density, it's important to note that it's not an exact number. Instead, it's much more of an estimate or average. This is simply due to constant fluctuations caused by births and deaths.

When speaking of population density, the terms 'sparse' and 'dense' are often used. If an area is sparsely populated this simply means that it contains few people relative to its size. Conversely, if an area is densely populated this means it contains a large amount of people relative to its size.

Factors Affecting Density

According to geographers, areas that are sparsely populated are usually very difficult places to live. For instance, they may have difficult climates, such as the Mojave Desert or the tundra of the North Pole. They also may have very high elevations, as in the mountainous regions of the Urals or the highlands of Tibet. On the contrary, areas with more temperate climates and lower elevations tend to be more densely populated. A good example of this is the densely populated areas of the Northeastern US.

Population density is also affected by more human factors. For instance, if an area is politically unstable or war-torn, it will usually have a very low population density. This is seen in areas like Syria and Afghanistan. Another human factor that affects population density is the availability of employment. For instance, industrial cities like Beijing, China, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offer job opportunities. For this reason, these areas are more densely populated.

Now that we've covered the definitions of population density, let's move onto specific areas of the world. As we do this, please remember that population density doesn't just mean the number of people in an area. It is a measurement of the number of people in an area relative to the size of the area. For example, the state of New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the U.S. Yes, its actual population is lower than that of New York, but its people are crowded into a much smaller space.

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