What Is Population Density? - Definition & Measurements

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Population Density Around the World

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:08 Population Density
  • 1:08 Arithmetic Density
  • 1:39 Physiological Density
  • 2:24 Agricultural Density
  • 2:57 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

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 seek to explain the concept of population density. It will focus on three specific measurements of density. They are arithmetic, physiological, and agricultural density.

Population Density

Besides the skyscrapers, the Broadway shows, and the plethora of yummy food choices, one of the most amazing things to me about New York City is the massive waves of people that are continually moving along its streets. Whether at three in the morning or three in the afternoon, the streets are always humming. With this massive amount of people, New York City is a great example of a place with a very high population density. Today we're going to take a look at this concept of population density.

Stated rather simply, population density is a measurement of the number of people in an area relative to its size. Like many geographical concepts, it's not an exact number. It's usually more of an average or even an estimate. With this in mind, population density is most often calculated by the number of people per square kilometer.

Population density is often measured in three different ways. There is arithmetic density, physiological density, and agricultural density.

Arithmetic Density

We'll get started with arithmetic density. Arithmetic density is what most people think of when they hear the word 'population density.' It's simply the total number of people divided by the total land area. Also called real density, arithmetic density does not take into account whether or not the land is rural, urban, or whether it is desert or frozen tundra. It just gives the straight-forward measurement of people divided by land. I like to think of it as just being simple arithmetic.

Physiological Density

With arithmetic density under our belts, let's take a look at physiological density. Physiological density is the number of people per unit area of arable land. Explaining this a bit, arable denotes land that is suitable for growing crops.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account