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Map: Nearly half the world's population lives in one per cent of its surface area

Posted by in Mapping on Thursday, January 7, 2016

This map, created by Max Galka, shows the huge imbalance in the world's population density. (Map courtesy: Max Galka/Metrocosm)

With the world's population projected to swell to 11 billion by 2100, one might wonder if there's enough room on the planet for so many human beings.

The answer, according to a new map, is yes, at least in terms of physical space.

Created by data journalist Max Galka of Metrocosm, the map presents a startling picture of the current imbalance in the world's population density: half of us live in the yellow areas, half in the black.

The map was created using gridded population data compiled by NASA. It's made up of some 28 million "cells," each comprising an area of approximately nine square miles. The yellow areas include cells with a population of 8,000 or more people; the black areas include cells with a population of fewer than 8,000 people.

Put another way, the yellow cells have a population density of 900 people per square mile, but make up only one per cent of the Earth's surface area.

A high-resolution version of Galka's map. Click to enlarge.

Here's a zoomed-in look at one of the most densely populated areas, encompassing India, Bangladesh and China. Nearly half (46 per cent) of the world's existing population lives within the area shown in this image:

46 per cent of the world's population lives in this area alone. (Map courtesy: Max Galka/Metrocosm)

Unsurprisingly, Canada presents as mainly wide open space, with just a smattering of yellow cells representing our major cities:

Can you identify Canada's cities by their population density? (Map courtesy: Max Galka/Metrocosm)

Evidently, there's an astounding amount of space on the planet to accommodate future humans, particularly in areas where the greatest population growth is projected to occur, like Africa. However, as experts have pointed out, the concern is not where to put our future generations, but how to feed them.

Related: Why are Canadian households shrinking?

  Comments (1)

As you state, the physical space would accommodate the projected populations. The real question you pose of how to feed them should be addressed with the reports of how we waste the food we create and with distribution. I enjoyed this post and the previous one with the view from space of city lights showing population distribution.

Submitted by Janet on Thursday, January 7, 2016

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