Youth Perspectives

Think the world is overcrowded? These 10 maps show why you’re wrong

50% of the world’s population lives in just 1% of its land

50% of the world’s population lives in just 1% of its land Image: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Max Galka
CEO and Janitor, FOIA Mapper
Share:
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Youth Perspectives is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Youth Perspectives

Italy

Based on data from NASA/SEDAC, this map shows how Italy’s population is distributed – half lives in the densely-packed purple areas (8% of the land), half lives in the sparse grey areas (92% of the land).

Italy's population split in half
Image: metrocosm

The map is the latest addition to a long-running string of population maps tweeted out by Conrad Hackett, a Pew Research demographer with a very interesting and very popular Twitter feed. The maps show how and where people are concentrated in different regions of world, including contributions from some great data visualizers as well as a few of my own.

It’s no surprise that people are not evenly spread out across the Earth. But seeing the population concentrations mapped out visually can be quite striking.

The world
The world's population split in half
Image: metrocosm

The map below shows the world’s population density from another perspective. Only 5% of the world lives in the entire blue area. For comparison, the same number of people live in the small red area (bonus points if you can name the two countries it covers).

The world's population mapped
Image: metrocosm
Australia

Australia may be the country with the most extreme population concentration in the world. Physically, it is about the same size as the United States. But as this map by reddit user jnd-au shows, half of Australia’s 23 million people live in just a few densely packed specs.

Australia's population mapped
Image: jnd-au
United States

This map of the United States was made by Jishai Evers of dadaviz, a site that put out some great data visualizations before being acquired by Vocativ late last year.

Of the United States’ 3,142 counties, just 144 account for half of the population.

America's population mapped
Image: Jishai Evers, dadaviz.com
Spain

As you can see in the maps here, Western Europe’s population is distributed relatively evenly compared to the rest of the world. But Spain is a bit of an exception. 14% of Spaniards live in Greater Madrid, smack dab in the centre of the country.

Spain's population mapped
Image: metrocosm
France

This map of France comes by way of Mathieu Dehlinger of francetvinfo. It shows not only the 50%/50% population split, but the full range of possible breakdowns.

France's population mapped
Image: Mathieu Dehlinger, francetvinfo
North Africa

Unsurprisingly, the Sahara Desert has one of the lowest population densities on the planet. Nearly half the population of North Africa lives along the banks of the Nile River.

North Africa's population mapped
Image: metrocosm
Turkey

This map by Aron Strandberg shows the population concentration of Turkey. 50% of the population lives in the black regions, 50% lives in the yellow regions.

Turkey's population mapped
Image: @aronstrandberg
Canada

The 49th parallel is traditionally thought of as the border between the US and Canada. Oddly, most Canadians live far below it. 50% of Canada’s population lives in this red area, which is at about the same latitude as Oregon.

Canada's population mapped
Image: metrocosm

You can find these and many other population density maps on Conrad’s Twitter feed. If you have any suggestions for other parts of the world whose population would be interesting to see visualized like the maps above, feel free to share your thoughts.

This article originally appeared on Metrocosm.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

This is how to help young people navigate the opportunities and risks of AI and digital technology

Simon Torkington

January 31, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum