Unit 1.1: What is demographic change?

AS human geography revision notes

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Investigating population change

Population Distribution: How population is spread throughout the world.

Population Density: The amount of people in an area.

Sparsely Populated: Few people in an area.

Densely Populated: Many people in an area.

  • Population distribution can be shown by using a dot map.
  • Population density is calculated by the av amount of people in the area / area of land.
  • The sparsely populated areas are: Sahara Desert, North Pole and The Amazon Rainforest.
  • The densely populated areas are: India, Bangladesh and China.

High Rises: Reletive population densities around the world (people per km2)

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Distribution and change (world facts)


  • 75% of the population live within 1000km of the sea.
  • 85% live in areas less than 500m high.
  • 85% live between latitudes 68N and 20N.
  • Less than 10% live in the southern hemisphere.

Most Favoured living conditions:

  • Fertile valleys.
  • A regular supply of water.
  • A climate which is not too extreme.
  • Good communications.

Disadvantaged areas include:

  • Deserts (too dry).
  • Mountains (too steep).
  • High Latitudes (too cold).
  • Rainforests (too infertile)
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National Distribution in the UK (1991)

The South-East has one-third of the population living on a tenth of the land area.

Scotland has one-tenth of the population living on one-third of the land area.

The most congested region is the North West, with an average of 868 people per square kilometre.

Low density areas:

  • Remote upland regions.
  • Harsh physical conditions and a lack of economic opportunity.
  • In parts of the Scottish Highlands there are large areas with no population.

High density areas:

  • Conurbations have the highest concentration.
  • Especially the inner suburbs of the large industrial cities.
  • Greater London contains 4308 people per square kilometre.
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Positive/Negative factors to encourage/discourage

Densely Populated:

  • EASTERN USA: Good access to transport such as airports, railways and roads.
  • GANGES VALLEY: Flat plains and low lying land for crops. Seasonal monsoon rainfall.
  • NORTH-WEST EUROPE: Evenly distributed rainfall with no extreme temperatures. Reliable supplies.
  • NILE VALLEY: Deep fertile soil for crops, left by the silt from the river when it floods.

Sparsely Populated:

  • HIMALAYAS: Poor transport links, limited facilities and high mountainous areas with a cold climate.
  • SAHARA DESERT: Limited annual rainfall.
  • AMAZONIA: High annual humidity, dense forest and loss of land due to farming.
  • GREENLAND: Low annual temperatures.
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Demographic change

Demographic Change: The total population of an area is a balance between two factors of change:

  • NATURAL change: The difference between the birth and death rates.
  • MIGRATION changes: How people move from one place to another.

The world population growth over time:

Between the 1930's to the 1950's there was a significant increase in the world population, this is what is called 'Population Explosion'.

Before the 1930's there was a steadily increasing population, this was until the population started to rise due to the significant higher number of births. These births out-weighed the number of deaths, causing an increase to the population.

The worlds popluation in 1720 was 791,000, and in 2000 it was 600,000,000.

The average prediction for the world's population in 2050 is 11,000,000,000.

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Implications for increased population growth

  • Increase in agricultural land.
  • Decreasing supply of fossil fuels.
  • Climate change.
  • Land fill sites become full.
  • Less jobs available.
  • Rain-forest and habitats are lost.
  • Not enough food/drinks/facilities.
  • Difficulties in supplying enough health care and education.
  • Natural disasters such as flooding and droughts.
  • Not enough land to build on.
  • Increase in the spread of diseases.
  • More crimes are committed.
  • Wars and conflict over supplies may arise.
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