You are on page 1of 5

HUMAN POPULATION

Def: Human population refers to the group of people occupying in a certain geographical area.
The scientific study of human population is called demography. It covers its growth, density,
distribution and movements as well as the aspects of economic and social development.
Population is related to the development process and environments. This is because it is itself a
reproductive resource that transforms the environments resources so as to bring development.
POPULATION SIZE refers to the total number of people in the country. This may change over
time due to dynamic components like birth, dearth and migration. Population size is obtained
through censuses.
POPULATION DISTRIBUTION refers to the way in which people are spread out across the
earths surface. Also it can be defined as occurrence or non occurrence of people in certain
geographical units. Distribution is uneven and change over period of time.
POPULATION DENSITY refers to the ratio between the number of people and a given area,
which they are occupying a number of people per unit area.
CHARACTERISTICS OF POPULATION
Population has the following general characteristics
i.

ii.

iii.

iv.

It is unevenly distributed over the surface such that some areas have low density,
other has medium density and some have high density. Other has no population at all
and is referred to as non ecumene.
Population is dynamic in sense that is migratory as people move from place to place
either permanently or temporally depending on the prevailing conditions. Also
population change in terms of number. It tends to increase in some places and tend to
decrease in some places.
Population change is caused by either natural increase due to birth, natural decrease
due to death or artificial decrease due to out migration or emigration.
Population has age sex structure. This refers to the composition or proportion of
population in term of age, sex, occupation and others of the same consideration. Age
structure is important since it influences employment patterns as well as public
expenditure. Also its shows the sex ratio.
Population is characterized by variation in the level of development and technology.
Some countries are more developed due to the use of advanced technology such as
Japan, America and France, while others countries are less developed or are poor due
to the use of low technology i.e. outdated technology like Tanzania, Malawi and
Mozambique.

Page 1 of 5

v.

Population usually faces problems like diseases such as HIV AIDS environmental
calamities like famine, floods, earthquakes and environmental pollution.

NB:
The inhabited areas of the worlds land surface are called ECUMENE while unhabited or
sparsely populated areas are called NON ECUMENE.
FACTORS INFLUENCING POPULATION DISTRIBUTION AND DENSITY
There are several factors influencing population distribution and density in the world and these
can be divided into physical and human factors as elaborated bellow.
PHYSICAL FACTORS, which includes reliefs, climates, vegetation, soils, minerals and energy
resources, natural hazards and biological factors as follows.
i.

ii.

iii.

iv.

v.

vi.

Relief. Where the slope is steep, there is low or no population due to poor soils and
nature of the land but where there are gentle slopes or flat surfaces there is high
population since the soil are good and mechanization can take place easily. High land
usually attracts people due to good soil, rainfall, cool climates and being free from
floods, but some low lands, which tend to floods usually, have low population since
people avoid settling in those areas.
Climate. Areas with heavy rainfalls like the North West Europe attract high
population, but when there is poor rainfall like in the desert there is low population.
Also areas with very high temperature such as those experienced in the hot desert
discourage human settlements or very low temperature such as those experienced in
high mountains also discourage human distribution while the areas with moderate
temperature attracts high population.
Vegetation. In areas where dense vegetation is difficult to clear like in the tropical
rainforest of Amazon basin and the Congo basin as well as the Rufiji valley and
mangroves forest along the coastal areas people are discouraged to live leading to
sparse population or no population at all. Denser populations hinder penetrations or
communication and developments.
Soil. Thin, infertile or badly leached soil discourages settlements since they can not
support agriculture. E.g. Scottish high land where there is severe leaching. Equatorial
areas also discourage settlements due to soil leaching decline in fertility.
Mineral and energy resources. Areas with minerals and energy resources attracts
population e.g. the rand of south Africa, iron and cool fields in western Europe like
the Rhur region in west German and southern part of west Africa where there are rich
minerals deposits, like diamond, oil etc.
Natural hazards. Areas that are prone to natural hazards like floods in low land,
earthquakes, and tornadoes are avoided by people. But this is not always so since

Page 2 of 5

vii.

viii.

ix.

x.

xi.

some areas which experience frequently floods like the fertile plains of Bangladesh
and volcanic areas of java and Indonesia are high populated.
Biological factors like disease and pests. People like settling in areas which are free
of diseases and pests. There is high population like in the high lands of Tanzania
which have healthily climate like Arusha. But areas with high incidence of diseases
and pests infection like mosquitoes that cause malarias, tsetse flies discourage
population settlement.
HUMAN FACTORS like social cultural aspects, economic structure, transport and
communication, and politics as elaborated bellow.
Social cultural aspects. Some tribes have a traditional of going to live in areas which
have been left by their ancestor as heritages and continues to reproduce in the same
areas to create clans. In time these areas become overpopulated and hence highly
fragmented like in Kilimanjaro among the chagga people. Traditional believes like
superstition can make people avoid to live in certain areas due to the fear of risking
their life. Also where services are readily available like in towns there is high
population unlike rural areas where social services are poorly available.
Economic structure. People tend to settling in areas where there are economic
opportunities like in town due to the presence of trade and industries. Urban industrial
areas like rand in S. Africa are density populated
Political factors. An area with political stabilities and peace attracts population but
where there is political instability people tend to avoid. These areas face depopulation
due to conflicts like in Sudan, Somalia. Also the establishment of colonial rules like
Tanzania lead to the concentration of people in the most productive areas leading to
low population in other areas. The creation of national parks as well as the forest and
game reserves by the government has prevented people from settling in such areas.
Transport and communication
POPULATION CHANGES

This is the growth or decline in population. Its the increase or decrease of population.
Population can change by positive growth and negative growth.
The main factors for population changes are fertility rate/birth rate, mortality rate and
migration
i.

ii.

Fertility or birth rate. Refers to the ability to conceive and to produce. It is measured
by counting the number of the people i.e. live birth in a population. Fertility rate is
influenced by factors like level of education, urbanization, birth control measures,
cultural beliefs, prestiges, early marriage, source of labor and preference of sex.
Mortality or death rate. Refers to the number of death within a given population.
Death rate can be categorized into
a). Infant mortality rate death from 0 2 years and
Page 3 of 5

iii.

b). Children mortality rate as the number of children death aged between 1 5 years
per 1000 live birth.
c). adult mortality rate as a number of adult dying per 1000 of the total population.
Larger scale mortality rate may be caused by;
o Severe huger or famine
o Diseases
o Natural disasters
o Wars and
o Accidents
Migration. Is the movement of people from one place or region to another which
results in changes of residence which may be temporary or permanently. Migration
may be immigration or emigration. Immigration, the people come into a new area and
are called immigrants. Emigration, people leaves their native land to another land and
these people are called emigrants.
TYPES OF MIGRATION

There are two types, namely internal migration and external migration or international or
interstates or interregional migration.
o Internal migration. People move within a country, it can be permanent, temporally,
voluntary or involuntary.
Reasons
Search for job
Settlements
Search for fertile soils
Trading
Search for education
Forms of internal migration
Rural to urban migration. People moves from villages to town for search of jobs better
social services and for education.
Rural to rural migration e.g. nomadic pastoralists
Urban to rural migration. People moves from town to villages for investigating, job
purposes, settling up industrials and other projects.
Urban to urban migration as people move from one town to another for business, better
employments as well as for education.
o External migration or international or interstates or interregional migration. Is the
movement of people from their own countries to another countries
CAUSES OF MIGRATION
There are many reasons why people choose to migrates. The following are some of
them.
i.
Pressure on land
Page 4 of 5

ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
vii.

Availability of employment opportunity


Creation of wealth
Religious conflicts
Political instability
Natural disasters
Forced migration
Other causes are government policies, cultural believes, health services.

Page 5 of 5