The Disparity of Population Density

Geography and languages are often deeply intertwined in terms of historical patterns, but this post pertains less to languages and more to geography and population density.

And in particular, the “inequality” of population density.

I recently came across Max Roser and a fascinating project that he has been working on, which is well worth checking out: Our World in Data

Our World in Data uses maps and other visualizations to depict empirical data on poverty, violence, health, education, the environment, and other socioeconomic factors.

In an era where data sources abound to an extreme degree, simple yet engaging visualizations help the human mind grasp and contextualize that ocean of information, and convert it into knowledge.

Max Roser recently tweeted a map which displays an astonishing disparity.

The blue regions of the map below contain only 5% of the world’s population (~350 million people).

This includes large swaths of Russia, China, North and Southwest Africa, Australia, West Brazil, South Argentina, Greenland, Scandinavia, and certain Northwest US States, inter alia.

The red region of the map is home to roughly the same proportion of the world’s population as the blue regions: 5% (again, ~350 million people)!

Yes, you read and saw that correctly. The red region solely consists of parts of Bangladesh (a country whose area slightly trails that of Illinois state), and the East Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal.

The remaining 90% of people live in the white regions.

Now, many of the sparsely populated blue regions are not easily habitable due to climate conditions, such as freezing winters, desert heat, and extremely mountainous terrains.

Conversely, areas in and around the red region, in South and Southeast Asia, have historically offered a climate and geography that favors certain kinds of economic activity, resulting in continuous population growth.

However, it is one thing to merely look at the hard data and another to view them from the lens of such a stunning visualization.


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