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Population Geography

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Worldwide Population Growth

To understand population growth, geographers use several different statistics. One is the birthrate. It is the number of live births per thousand people in the population. Another way to study population is to look at the fertility rate. The fertility rate shows the average number of children an average woman might have in her lifetime.

The mortality rate is also called the death rate. It is the number of deaths per thousand people in the population. Geographers also look at infant mortality rates. The infant mortality rate shows the number of deaths among infants under age one per thousand live births.

To find the rate at which population is growing, subtract the mortality rate from the birthrate. The result is the rate of natural increase or population growth.

What is mortality rate AND how is population growth figured?
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Population Pyramid

Another way to analyze population is to use a population pyramid. This is a type of graph that shows sex and age distribution of a population.

A population pyramid allows geographers to see how such events as wars, famines, and epidemics affect the population of a country or region.

What are population pyramids AND why do geographers use population pyramids?
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Population Distribution

The billions of people in the world are not spread equally across the earth. Almost 90 percent of the world\ss population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. One out of every two people lives in either East Asia or South Asia.

Factors such as climate, altitude, and access to water influence where people choose to live. Almost two-thirds of the world’s population lives in the zone between 20° N and 60° N.

The lands in this zone have the most suitable climate and vegetation for human settlement. The lands are warm enough and wet enough to make agriculture possible. Large populations are also found along seacoasts and river valleys.

Where on the earth do most people live AND what factors affect where people live?
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Urban - Rural Mix and Migration

More than half of the world's population lives in rural areas. More people are moving into cities. Cities with populations of more than one million people are growing fastest. Twenty-six giant cities are home to a total of more than 250 million people.

The movement of people from one location to another also changes the distribution of population. Reasons for migrating are sometimes called pushpull factors. Push factors are when people feel pushed out of a region. Push factors might include a natural disaster. Pull factors encourage people to go to another land. Countries with lots of jobs and high salaries attract people.

Why do people move AND how do push-pull factors affect migration?
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Population Density

To understand how heavily populated an area is, geographers use a figure called population density. This figure is the average number of people who live in a measurable area such as a square mile.

The number is found by dividing the number of people in an area by the amount of land they occupy. New Jersey has a density of 1,098 people per square mile. The United States averages out to 70.3 persons per square mile.

Population density numbers maybe misleading. The population is not distributed evenly across the land. Certain areas may be densely populated, while others are thinly populated.

What is population density AND how is population density figured?
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Carrying Capacity

Carrying capacity is the number of animals or humans a piece of land can support. An area with fertile land may be able to support many people. A land of poor quality or with little land available for cultivation can only support a few people.

The level of technology available to a group living on the land may affect carrying capacity. Improved farming practices may increase the carrying capacity of land.

How many people can the land support AND what is carrying capacity?
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