If we look at the history of growth of population of the world, we shall find that the population has increased very rapidly over a particular period of time.
It is estimated that the population of the world must have been considerably high, but the exact number of the people in the world is not known. At the time of birth of Christ or during the pre-Christian era it was estimated to be probably about 250 million or so. On account of many reasons like epidemics, earthquakes, floods and wars the population must have decreased in the past, but after the birth of Christ, population growth is accelerating and it has never seen a decline in spite of the big human loss caused by two world wars, communal riots, epidemics, earthquakes and famines etc.
Continent wise, Asia had the highest population in the world (2,577 million). It was followed by Europe (584 million), Africa (498 million), Russia (274 million), North America (380 million), South America (242 million). Oceania with 23 million inhabitants had the lowest number of people in the world. These were 1985 figures.
Europe with 65 persons per square kilometer was the most densely populated continent of the world. Oceania with an average density of 3 persons per square kilometer had the lowest density of population in the world.
Country wise China in Asia with 1,034 million people ranked first in the world in respect of population, followed by India with 774 million, Russia with 274 million.
Bangladesh in Asia, with 616 persons per square kilometer had the highest density in the world. It was followed by the Republic of Korea (Asia), the Netherlands and Belgium (Europe). These countries had a density of 378, 342 and 323 persons per square kilometer, respectively. Other countries in Europe, mainly on the western side of the continent, also have high density of population. In North-east Europe the concentration of population is mainly due to manufacturing activity.
The United States with an area slightly less than that of Canada has almost 10 times the population of Canada. Though Australia is about 28 times as large as New Zealand, yet the density of population in Australia is one fifth of that of New Zealand. The greater part of Tropical Australia is virtually uninhabited. Over 25 cent of the Australian population is concentrated in temperature region, south of the tropics.
Dynamics of Population Growth. The population of an area increases when the birth rate exceeds the death rate. The birth rate and death rate are expressed in terms of the number of births or deaths per 1000 of population. Population also increases when immigration is more than emigration. As many countries have imposed restrictions on migration, this is no longer a factor for increase or decrease of population on a large scale.
Regional Variations of Growth. The world may be divided into two major region on the basis of population growth. The developed nations in Europe, North, America, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan experience low population growth of less than 1% per year. These countries have a low birth rate (less than 15/1000) and low death rate (less than 10/1000). In Sweden and Switzerland, the death rate is slightly higher than the birth rate indicating a decline in population. In the developed nations the birth rate has declined along with the decline in death rate.
Next: High Density Areas