Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Definition: Population density is midyear population divided by land area in square kilometers. Population is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship--except for refugees not permanently settled in the country of asylum, who are generally considered part of the population of their country of origin. Land area is a country's total area, excluding area under inland water bodies, national claims to continental shelf, and exclusive economic zones. In most cases the definition of inland water bodies includes major rivers and lakes.
Description: The map below shows how Population density (people per sq. km of land area) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Macao SAR, China, with a value of 19,736.84. The country with the lowest value in the world is Greenland, with a value of 0.14.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization and World Bank population estimates.
Development Relevance: Population estimates are usually based on national population censuses. Estimates for the years before and after the census are interpolations or extrapolations based on demographic models. Errors and undercounting occur even in high-income countries; in developing countries errors may be substantial because of limits in the transport, communications, and other resources required conducting and analyzing a full census. Population density is a measure of the intensity of land-use, and can be calculated for a block, city, county, state, country, continent or the entire world. Considering that over half of the Earth's land mass consists of areas inhospitable to human inhabitation, such as deserts and high mountains, and that population tends to cluster around seaports and fresh water sources, a simple number of population density by itself does not give any meaningful measurement of human population density. Several of the most densely populated territories in the world are city-states, microstates, or dependencies. These territories share a relatively small area and a high urbanization level, with an economically specialized city population drawing also on rural resources outside the area, illustrating the difference between high population density and overpopulation.
Limitations and Exceptions: Current population estimates for developing countries that lack recent census data and pre- and post-census estimates for countries with census data are provided by the United Nations Population Division and other agencies. The cohort component method - a standard method for estimating and projecting population - requires fertility, mortality, and net migration data, often collected from sample surveys, which can be small or limited in coverage. Population estimates are from demographic modeling and so are susceptible to biases and errors from shortcomings in the model and in the data. Because the five-year age group is the cohort unit and five-year period data are used, interpolations to obtain annual data or single age structure may not reflect actual events or age composition. The quality and reliability of official demographic data are also affected by public trust in the government, government commitment to full and accurate enumeration, confidentiality and protection against misuse of census data, and census agencies' independence from political influence. Moreover, comparability of population indicators is limited by differences in the concepts, definitions, collection procedures, and estimation methods used by national statistical agencies and other organizations that collect the data.
Statistical Concept and Methodology: Population density is midyear population divided by land area in square kilometers. This ratio can be calculated for any territorial unit for any point in time, depending on the source of the population data. Populationestimates are prepared by World Bank staff from variety of sources. They are based on the de facto definition of population and include all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship, within the physical boundaries of a country and under the jurisdiction of that country's political control. Refugees not permanently settled in the country of asylum are considered part of the population of their country of origin. Population numbers are either current census data or historical census data extrapolated through demographic methods. The count also excludes visitors from overseas. Population density is calculated by dividing midyear population by land area in a country. Population is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship - except for refugees not permanently settled in the country of asylum, who are generally considered part of the population of their country of origin. Land area is a country's total area, excluding area under inland water bodies, national claims to continental shelf, and exclusive economic zones. In most cases the definition of inland water bodies includes major rivers and lakes.
Aggregation method: Weighted average