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  #1  
Old 06-16-2003, 01:38 AM
The Calculus of Logic The Calculus of Logic is offline
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Why do some geographical areas have such high population densities?

Like South east asia. Countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Phillipines, China, Malaysia, Japan or Tiawan have huge populations in small land areas. I think almost 2/5 the world's population lives in these countries. I think (not sure) that India & pakistan would be another example of a high density geographic area.

So why are some areas higher populated? I know i'll get a reply like they have more sex, but i'm sure there is more to it than that. Did these areas somehow avoid most of the medical problems that plagued the rest of the world like dysentery, cholera, etc., did their culture place higher value on having as many children as possible, was their food supply more secure?
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2003, 01:56 AM
The Calculus of Logic The Calculus of Logic is offline
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I didn't include North & South Korea in the list.

If you include the populations of Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & India with the south east asian countries, that is about 3/5 of the worlds population in about 15 countries that are all geographically in the same place.
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  #3  
Old 06-16-2003, 02:01 AM
Agback Agback is offline
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G'day

A lot of it has to do with water supply. And the high productivity of land possible when growing certain crops, such as rice and taro.

Regards,


Agback
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  #4  
Old 06-16-2003, 05:50 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Remember that Europe has half a billion people in quite a small area. I don't have a gazeteer handy, but I would guess that England (as opposed to the UK) and the Netherlands are both more densely populated than some of the countries you mention. Together they'd have nearly 70m people in an area not much bigger than Indiana.
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  #5  
Old 06-16-2003, 06:15 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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To correct my own post, England and The Netherlands would together be about twice the size of Indiana with 10 times the population. I'm right about most of the countries mentioned being less densely populated; check CIA Factbook.
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  #6  
Old 06-16-2003, 06:25 AM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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One of the main things that leads to very densely populated areas is the relationship between death rates and birth rates.

Originally the rates were close enough that population growth was slow. But then when medical knowledge becomes more prevalent the death rate begins to drop while birth rates being driven by culture tend to stay high. This causes large and rapid growth in population. It's only later that birth rates fall to match the death rates and lead to slow growth or even falling populations as we'll see in some countries pretty soon.

Check out these stats for India. A mere difference of 6.6 in the years from 1901-1910 which tripled 50 years later. Looks like they peaked in the 80s and are slowly closing the gap.

I don't think there is any nation that hasn't gone though this.
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  #7  
Old 06-16-2003, 06:40 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fern Forest
One of the main things that leads to very densely populated areas is the relationship between death rates and birth rates.

This explains differences in the rate of population growth. It does not by itself explain differences in population density. It is true that most areas go through a fall in death-rate accompanied by a dramatic growth in population. These changes occur at different times in history and so relative densities will vary. However it does not explain differences that are there at the start or end of the process.

For example, within the USA there are huge differences in population density which cannot be explained by differences in birth and death rates. Or the difference between India and Mongolia, another huge country but with a miniscule number of people.
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  #8  
Old 06-16-2003, 08:19 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Not to point out the obvious, but the relative pleasantness of climate, terrain, and local resources would appear to be the other factor. Mongolia is a cold and unpleasant place; India is warm and fertile. Western Europe is rich in fertile land and natural resources; Newfoundland is barren. Within the USA, it's rather obvious that, say, Indiana and Illinois are physically more pleasant places to be than is Arizona.

There is also the density effect of large cities. New York City, for various reasons, is an enormous city - it is one of the world's best natural harbors, is at a crossroads for trade routes, is on several rivers, arable land, etc. That makes the population density of the State of New York relatively high. But actually, the State of New York has a lot of empty space in it. Drive around its freeways and what you mostly see is forest. The fact that New York is more densely populated than Maine is due to New York City, not an intrinsic advantage to the terrain or climate of all of New York State.
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  #9  
Old 06-16-2003, 08:36 AM
RM Mentock RM Mentock is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RickJay
There is also the density effect of large cities. New York City, for various reasons, is an enormous city - it is one of the world's best natural harbors, is at a crossroads for trade routes, is on several rivers, arable land, etc.
I think you left out one of the most important factors. If you follow the "fall line" down the east coast, you'll see that a lot of the major population centers are on the fall line rather than the coast. The fall line is where there is a sharp drop in elevation, from the piedmont to the coastal plain. It was important as an energy source--for early water mills, and later hydroelectric power. The fall line intersects the east coast at New York City (the Palisades). NYC not only had the fall line, it had a harbor too. Two large natural advantages.
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  #10  
Old 06-16-2003, 09:10 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by RickJay
Not to point out the obvious, but the relative pleasantness of climate, terrain, and local resources would appear to be the other factor
The first factor having been ... what? (Unless you're referring to Agback's post.) I was using extreme examples to point out that birth and death rates and population growth do not really explain the questions raised in the OP. I could have used more subtle examples, such as the differences between England and France, or between Italy and Spain (the first of each pair is quite a bit more densely populated).

Please do not assume from the fact that I did not offer explanations of my own that I have no ideas of my own, such as the "obvious" ones you suggested.
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  #11  
Old 06-16-2003, 10:53 AM
masafer masafer is offline
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I think alot of it also has to do with density of food production. AFAIK, a given land area of rice produces much more nutrition than the same area of wheat, barley, sorghum or nearly any other common grain. Hence, those areas which cultivated rice in paddies, primarily in East and South Asia (as opposed to the dry, upland rice found in Europe and elsewhere) could support a much larger native population than elsewhere.
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  #12  
Old 06-16-2003, 11:11 AM
Sinungaling Sinungaling is offline
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Taking out my Population Geography notes, I see that the world has 4 main population centres: China & Southeast Asia plus Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Europe, and in North America, the eastern area between the ocean and the Great Lakes (the 13 colonies plus New France and Ontario). There are also smaller centres, such as on the Nile and on the West Coast of North America.

You'll notice that the 4 main centres are full of water: coasts, rivers, and lakes. They are either rich in farmland or rich in trade (coastal regions), or both. The farmers produce surplus, which can go to support people who don't produce food. More water equals more farmland, which means more food, and ultimately more people, and Asia is rich in coasts and rivers. Asia has always been the most populated region of the world in historic times.

Here is the breakdown of the world's population in 2001:

World: 6.3 billion people
Asia: 3.7 billion
Africa: 818 million
Europe: 727 million
Latin America: 525 million
North America (US & Canada): 313 million
Oceania: 31 million

You'll notice Africa has more people than Europe, but is not designated as a population centre. That is because isn't as concentrated as in Europe.

Hope that helped.
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  #13  
Old 06-16-2003, 07:18 PM
The Calculus of Logic The Calculus of Logic is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by G. Odoreida
Remember that Europe has half a billion people in quite a small area. I don't have a gazeteer handy, but I would guess that England (as opposed to the UK) and the Netherlands are both more densely populated than some of the countries you mention. Together they'd have nearly 70m people in an area not much bigger than Indiana.
I don't think that compares though. Those are 2 countries in a specific land area, the other 20 + in that area are not as densely populated. Same goes for places like Nigeria. Nigeria has about 130 million, but the majority of countries near it are not nearly as populated. So they are the exception, not the rule in those geographic areas.

http://www.yourchildlearns.com/asia_map.htm

if you look at the nations in southeast asia and south central asia, the vast majority that are south east of Afghanistan & south of Mongolia are highly populated. I think Laos, Cambodia & Burma are the only nations that are not as highly populated. For some reason, Laos & Cambodia seem underpopulated, like they have 1/10 as many people per square km.

Indonesia
land: 1,826,440 sq km
Population: 231,328,092

Vietnam
land: 325,360 sq km
Population: 81,098,416

Japan
land: 374,744 sq km
Population: 126,974,628

Phillipines
land: 298,170 sq km
Population: 84,525,639

etc.
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  #14  
Old 06-17-2003, 05:28 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Calculus of Logic
I don't think that compares though. Those are 2 countries in a specific land area, the other 20 + in that area are not as densely populated.
They're not as much of an exception as you make out; Germany is roughly the same size and population as Vietnam, and both it and Italy are more densely populated than Indonesia. South/ south east / east Asia is not such a small area; even taking into account sea and mountain, the heavily populated area stretches thousands of miles.

Anyway, I wasn't taking exception to your OP, I just wanted to point out (as I sure others would have done) that Westerners' assumptions about the "3rd world population explosion" are not always founded in fact. You get maps of world population distribution, and large parts of Western Europe (even central Scotland!) are always coloured in the heaviest shade. Like you, I often wonder why there are such differences. However I don't really think it's helpful to describe Asia's large population as being "all geographically in the same place." India is as far from Japan as the UK is from Iraq, or the USA is from Brazil. Do you think you can make generalisations about life in the UK - Iraq area?
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  #15  
Old 06-17-2003, 07:21 AM
Alcibiades Alcibiades is offline
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I think Laos, Cambodia & Burma are the only nations that are not as highly populated. For some reason, Laos & Cambodia seem underpopulated, like they have 1/10 as many people per square km.
Attrition by war and genocide?
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  #16  
Old 06-17-2003, 08:08 AM
ElectroSunDog ElectroSunDog is offline
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Japan's a bit easier explain than the rest. It's a relatively small country and people have been reproducing more rapidly since WWII, resulting in too many people for one little island to handle.
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  #17  
Old 06-17-2003, 09:14 AM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by G. Odoreida
This explains differences in the rate of population growth. It does not by itself explain differences in population density.
True, I guess that's step 1. Bearing in mind that each and every country undergoes a different degree of the difference in those rates over a different length of time. And then step 2 is for each region to have some reason for the people to stay there.

Those reason are probably things such as the difficulty of moving to another country and the draw of jobs in the nearby industrial area. I'm sure cultural affinity for your homeland is also a very strong reason to stay. There are probably a variety of familial obligations which might prevent you from leaving for someplace too far away, say your parents expect you to take care of them in their old age.



Density maps from The Center for International Earth Science Information Network. The close ups are at the end of the Dataset Variables section.
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  #18  
Old 06-17-2003, 10:27 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Fern Forest
And then step 2 is for each region to have some reason for the people to stay there.

Those reason are probably things such as the difficulty of moving to another country and the draw of jobs in the nearby industrial area. I'm sure cultural affinity for your homeland is also a very strong reason to stay. There are probably a variety of familial obligations which might prevent you from leaving for someplace too far away, say your parents expect you to take care of them in their old age.
[/B]
In addition to this I would guess that the ability to stay, mainly in the form of the availability of sufficient food, is very important. Having said that, that variable obviously also has a major bearing (sp?) on one's ability to be born in the first place and survive infancy. It will also have affected the area's demography before population increase.

What I'm saying is that I would guess the areas in the old world that had relatively high population density before industrialisation are, on the whole, the ones which have it now. And these areas are probably the ones which could grow a lot of calories on the soil they had, or the ones which could trade with such areas.

I'm getting into wild guess territory, so I'll leave the floor open to real demographers.
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  #19  
Old 06-17-2003, 10:41 AM
Sinungaling Sinungaling is offline
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Laos is not as dense in population as other SE Asian countries because:

1. It is very mountainous. The terrain doesn't make for rich farmland, and therefore not as many people can be supported, like I said in my previous post.

2. It is landlocked. Inland areas almost always have less people than coastal areas. Compare China's coast to its interior, or the United State's East and West Coasts to the Midwest. This is because of trade, which I also mentioned before.

Besides, of course, the political instability that Alcibiades mentioned. Did no one read what I wrote?

Oh, and Burma has 42 million people in an area slightly smaller than Texas (see the CIA World Factbook, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/...k/geos/bm.html), which certainly doesn't sound low density.
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  #20  
Old 06-17-2003, 10:47 AM
Sinungaling Sinungaling is offline
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G. Odoreida, you've got it now. Simply put, farmland and/or trade = lots of people.
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  #21  
Old 06-17-2003, 11:33 AM
Sinungaling Sinungaling is offline
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I posted this before, but it disappeared into the electronic ether. Okay, let me explain why coastal regions tend to have more people than the interior:

First, they have cities. Big cities. Bigger than inland. When given a choice, people usually choose to live in the city than the countryside.

Right, but how did those cities get so big? They buy food from inland. With what money? The money they get from international and domestic trade, which is made much easier by being on the coast and having a port for merchant ships to dock in.

Coastal city=>port=>trade=>money=>buying food from farmlands in the interior

This is how it works on farmlands:

Places with lots of fresh water (rivers and lakes) also have rich soils. These rich soils make for rich farmland. These rich farmlands produce lots of food. This food can be sold to cities (coastal and otherwise). More food produced means a greater ability to support people who don't produce food (i.e. city dwellers).

Fresh water(rivers and lakes)=>rich soil=>farmland=>food=>
selling food to cities

I hope that's simplified enough. To reiterate, just in case it's not:

Fresh water(rivers and lakes)=>rich soil=>farmland=>food=>
selling food to cities

AND FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF COASTAL CITIES:

Coastal city=>port=>trade=>money=>buying food from farmlands in the interior
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  #22  
Old 06-17-2003, 01:01 PM
RM Mentock RM Mentock is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sinungaling
I posted this before, but it disappeared into the electronic ether. Okay, let me explain why coastal regions tend to have more people than the interior:

First, they have cities. Big cities. Bigger than inland.
What about Atlanta? Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, Richmond VA. Those are all on the fall line, I think. Or do you count those as ooastal?

And Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Houston, Salt Lake City, Omaha, St. Louis.
Quote:
When given a choice, people usually choose to live in the city than the countryside.
What kinda choice?
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  #23  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:21 PM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sinungaling
G. Odoreida, you've got it now. Simply put, farmland and/or trade = lots of people.
Umm, until my last post I hadn't put forward any hypotheses of my own (or am I misunderstanding the "now" in your post?)
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  #24  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:32 PM
Sinungaling Sinungaling is offline
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What about Atlanta? Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, Richmond VA. Those are all on the fall line, I think. Or do you count those as ooastal?

And Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Houston, Salt Lake City, Omaha, St. Louis.
I was speaking of regions, not cities. If you go above individual cities and look at regions, you'll see that the East and West Coasts have greater population density than inland America, and like I said before, the area around the Great Lakes and on the East Coast is so dense in people it counts as one of the world's most populated regions. Look at the maps Fern Forest linked to and you can see what I mean.

Besides which, I said coastal regions "tend" to have more people. It's not a law of nature or anything like that.

Quote:
What kinda choice?
I was again speaking in general. Historically, more rural folk move to the city than the other way around. Yes, there are urban dwellers who choose to leave the city, but they're usually replaced by lots more people from the countryside.
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  #25  
Old 06-17-2003, 02:45 PM
Sinungaling Sinungaling is offline
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Oops, sorry G., I misspoke (or rather, mistyped).
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