Population distribution is a term that is used to describe how people are spread across a specific area. In other words, population distribution shows where people live. Population distribution can be measured across the entire world or a smaller region within a country or continent. Population density is typically expressed as the number of persons per square kilometer (/km2) or square mile (mi2).
When looking at the world as a whole, the northern hemisphere has a much greater population than the southern hemisphere, which is home to less than 10% of the world’s total population. When looking further at the world’s total population distribution, nearly three-quarters of the population live in Africa and Asia.
Areas that are densely populated have very large populations within a unit of area. Areas that are sparsely populated have much smaller populations in a unit of area. Regions that are not densely populated generally have a hostile environment, including a lack of vegetation, extremely cold temperatures, and/or geographic isolation. Densely populated areas run the risk of higher costs of living, more traffic, depletion of resources, and more pollution.
The most densely populated regions, on the other hand, have more favorable climates, clean water, and an abundance of natural resources. This includes regions such as Western Europe or the Eastern United States. The most densely populated countries are Macau (21,055 persons per square kilometer), Monaco (19,150 persons per square kilometer), and Singapore (8,109 persons per square kilometer). The most densely populated city globally is Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the density is 44,000 per square kilometer. Mumbai, India, follows with 32,300 persons per square kilometer.
Population distribution is shown through a dot mop, with each dot on the map representing many people. This data can also be shown on choropleth maps, which use shading, coloring, and symbols to show population distribution.