Population distribution

World population distribution

World map of different population densities

World population distribution describes how people are spread out across the globe. The human population is not spread evenly. Few people live in locations that are sparsely populated and densely populated places have many. The distribution of people is often shown using a dot distribution map.

The Himalayas are a good example of an environment that is difficult or challenging for people to live and work in. This large mountain range in Asia has low temperatures, poor soil quality and the slopes are too steep for people to live on and cultivate - and so it is sparsely populated. Other locations, such as parts of the UK, are more densely populated because they have flatter land, good soils and a mild climate.

Population: Where in the world do people live?

UK population distribution

Population distribution in the UK is also uneven. Some parts of the UK are very crowded. The south east, which includes the city of London, has a much greater population than the highlands of Scotland.

The population is very unequally distributed over the four parts of the UK: England makes up about 84 per cent of the total population, Wales around 5 per cent, Scotland roughly 8.5 per cent, and Northern Ireland less than 3 per cent.

Reasons for the population distribution in the UK

The south east of England covers one tenth of the land area but has over one third of the UK population living there.

The south east of England benefits from:

  • good transport links
  • easy access to the rest of Europe and beyond
  • being the seat of Government
  • the City - the financial heart of England

North West England has a high population density because many people located there because of raw materials (coal) and industry.

Scotland has a low population density because:

  • some areas of Scotland are remote
  • it is mountainous, making areas less accessible