Distribution of world population
The world has around 7.2 billion population and the population is not uniformly distributed. There are many factors that decide where people live, since when, and how many.
Factors that decide world population
- Physical factors
- Human factors
Examples for Physical factors are climate, terrain, presence or absence of resources.
Aristotle was the first to give the concept of habitable (Ecumene) regions and non-habitable (Non-Ecumene) regions. He classified the regions only on the physical factor climate.
The physical factors today are no longer the deciding factor. Despite all adversities and limitations, there are hardly any places where people don't live except for extreme conditions.
This factor is more important. Factors like employment prospects, urbanization, developmental policies, and in particular population policies which also have political overtones.
The population regions of the world
Population distribution can be studied in terms of relative concentration of people. There are three regions.
- Primary region - Have bulk of two population with high population density.
- Secondary region - Small regions
- Tertiary region - Sparsely populated
The Primary regions / pockets
- China, Japan, and Korea.
- Has greater than 25% of the world's population.
- Has very high density and high levels of development and urbanization.
- Most people live around urban centers.
- Has around 25% of the world's population.
- In comparison to East Asia, this region is largely a rural belt.
- Even the urban population doesn't have the standards of urban life and the lifestyle of East Asia or Europe.
- The bulk of the population lives along the major river valley that forms a continuous plain of Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra.
- South-East Asia
- Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore.
- Has about 10% of the world's population.
- They are fast-growing regions economically.
- The economic and cultural landscape is rapidly changing from rural to urban.
- These areas have some of the highest population density like Jakarta, Manila, and Singapore, etc.
- Western Europe
- Has around 10% of the world's population.
- Highly urbanized and very high levels of development.
- Most countries are witnessing stagnation and decline in population because of low birth rates and very restrictive migration policies.
- Western Europe is a part of the old-world but unlike India, South-Asia, and Africa it is much developed.
- The north-Eastern USA
- New England states and the Atlantic seaboard.
- It is the most developed region of the new world.
- The development was due to industrial prospects.
- It has very high ethnic diversity but the growth is not as much restricted as in western Europe. The growth is highly regulated in particular the migration policies.
The secondary regions / pockets
- They are Smaller regions concentrated around a few rivers which have a relative advantage over the other adjoining regions.
- The population may be concentrated along the rivers as linear strings around some cities that act as nodes.
- Example - River Nile in Egypt, St. Lawrence river in Canada, Sao Paulo in Brazil, Auckland in New Zealand, and Sydney, and Melbourne in Australia.
The tertiary regions / pockets
- These are largely empty quarters because of extreme physical limitations.
- For example, The Sahara, Antarctica, and mountainous regions.
- The physical factors are no longer absolute and people have gradually spread into the physically adverse regions too.
Population distribution across continents
- Asia is the largest in terms of size and population.
- It has three primary pockets namely East-Asia, South-Asia, and South-East Asia.
- It is one of the largest old worlds. So it has a long history of civilizations and agriculture.
- Asia has two reasons why it is the largest population region.
- Long history
- Therefore it has a population inertia
- India and China are two of the oldest cultural hearths of mankind.
- Rural region
- Because of low levels of human development which is a reason for the high growth rate.
- In recent years all countries have witnessed gradual decline in the birth rates
- Asia has 60 to 65% of world population and largely stabilizing.
- Long history
- During the 1800s, Europe had 20% of world's population
- Presently, Europe has around 10 to 12% of population
- Due to economic growth and high levels of urbanisation and development, Europe has witnessed a decline in its population and will decline further and stabilize at around 7% because of its very low birth rate and restrictive migration policies.
- This is part of the new world.
- Growth rates are low.
- It is its migration policy that has stabilized and maintained its population size.
- Africa has 13% of the world's population.
- It is one continent where both birth rates and death rates are very high due to poverty, famine, and conflicts.
- In the future, when the death rates fall, Africa will witness a rapid growth rate in the population.
- In the next three to four decades 90% of the world's population growth will be in Africa.
- As of now, Africa is the poorest continent with very low levels of economic growth.
Distribution of population can be measured in two ways
- On the basis of the total population of the region
- On the basis of density
- The population is compared to the area of land
- Densities is of three types
- Arithmetic density or crude density = (Total population / Total area)
- Physiological density or nutritional density = (Total population / Agricultural land)
- The arithmetic crude density of Egypt is about 100 but its physiological density is greater than 35,000 per square kilometers.
- This only means in Egypt there is very high pressure on limited agricultural resources. Almost 90% of Egypt's population lives along the river Nile.
- For countries like India and Bangladesh, there isn't much difference because most of the land has agricultural potential.
- Agricultural density = (Total number of farmers / Agricultural land)