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Case study: Population distribution in the UK p104
What is the population density of the UK?
There are great differences from one area to another, from densities of under 10per km² in
the remote upland and areas to densities of over 1000per km² in the cities.
Which areas of the UK are sparsely populated? Why is this?
The sparsely populated areas in the UK are mainly upland areas such as the Pennines,
Dartmoor and the Scottish Highlands. The upland areas have a harsher climate than the
lowlands. The terrain is rugged and the steep slopes make the building of communications
and settlements difficult. The steep slopes, thin soils and short growing season prevent crop
growth. The areas are often remote with poor access and few services. In the uplands there
are limited employment opportunities, the main occupations are extensive sheep farming,
foresting, quarrying, the water industry (reservoirs and HEP) and tourism. Larger
concentrations of people are only found where a resource has been developed.
Which areas of the UK are densely populated? Why is this?
The highdensity areas in UK are the conurbations, the larger cities and the industrial areas,
e.g Tyneside, Merseyside and Greater London. About 80% of the UK population lives in
towns and cities and over 50% in the seven largest city areas, the conurbations. Most of the
conurbations in the UK, except Great London, are former coalmining areas which were
developed during the Industrial Revolution. The areas of high density are located in the
lowlands where the relief is gentle and the climate more pleasant. There are dense networks
of communications including roads, railways, airports and ports.