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(i) Relief of Land. The presence of high mountains, limit the settlement of people. Such rugged places present various obstacles such as cold climate, difficulties in the construction of railroads and highways, unsuitable conditions for agricultural crops because of short growing season, lack of cultivable land and snowy winters. Industrial possibilities are rare due to difficult access. On the other hand, plain areas of world are most favorable places for human habitation because of favorable conditions for plant, human and animal life. Road and railway transportation can be provided without hurdles and rivers are navigable. In the fertile lowlands of the Ganges and Brahmaputra in India, Hwang Ho in China in plains of North-western Europe and the U.S.A. a large concentration of population is found. However, plains are the centres of great agriculture and industrial activity in the world and important cities of the world have been built on plains.
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(ii) Accessibility. People must have proper and easy access to the area through various means of transportation. If means of transportation have not developed in certain areas, then those areas will remain uninhabited. In earlier times, in the absence of water transport, all islands remained virtually uninhabited. But after the development of river and water transport, they became places of settlement depending upon the presence of economic activities in them. One of the reasons why mountains are not inhabited by people is that the means of transportation are lacking in them.
(iii) Climate. Most of the areas of the earth having less than even two persons per sq. km. are those, which have climate unfavorable for human settlement. Climate is one of the most important factors affecting the distribution of population in any area. Extremely cold lands and hot desert lands are not favorable for human habitation on account of their adverse climatic conditions. Polar areas including northern Siberia, northern part of Canada and Alaska, and Antarctica have extremely cold climate throughout the year, and as such density is extremely low. Alaska has density of one person per 3 sq. km. and Greenland one person per 50 sq. km. The Great Australian Desert has a density of 2.5 persons per sq. km. only.
Low density of population is recorded in a large number of tropical regions. Here, two climate characteristics are heavy rainfall and high temperatures throughout the year. Amazon basin in South America has a population density of less than two persons per sq. km.
Climate in all areas, which are near the equator is enervating. Men and animals are generally affected by diseases in such areas. Soils are extremely poor us fertility because of excessive humidity. Forests are difficult to clear because of luxuriant growth. However, it can be said that careful planing and use of modem science and technology can raise the scope of productive occupations in this area and this raises population density also.
In general, population is dense in all low-laying plains, which have a fertile and favorable climate throughout the year. Huge population of China lives in about one and half million sq. km. of area on coastal and lower river valleys on account of favorable climate and fertile soil. Similarly Ganges valley in India is densely populated because of fertile soil and favorable climate. In Southeast Asia, farmers are able to grow two or even three crops in a year on account of favorable climate and, as such, population is quite dense there.
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