Location [Stds. 1, 3]
Place [Stds. 4, 7, 9, 10]
Human-Environment Interaction [Stds. 8, 12, 14-18]
Movement [Stds. 11, 13]
Regions [Stds. 2, 5, 6]

 Standard 9: Characteristics
and Dynamics of Human Populations

The characteristics, distribution,
and migration of human populations on earth’s surface

TABLE OF CONTENTS
STANDARD 9 INTRODUCTION: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF POPULATION

Some say that a country's population is its most fundamental geographic factor. Review the readings at the websites below while considering the degree to which this is true. Consider some of the following mappable characteristics of population distribution in China, Japan, Korea, or Vietnam:

  • Growth of population over time
  • Spread of population over time
  • Population density
  • Urban versus rural distribution
  • Economic occupations of a country's population
  • East asian population in global comparison

Show All Maps | Hide All Maps

POPULATION DENSITY IN ASIA
// SEDAC CONTINENT SUMMARY DATA ON ASIA

Gridded Population of the World and the Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project
Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC)

The Asia "Continent Summary" section of this SEDAC website has a table listing countries and basic population statistics. Click on a country name (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam) on the table for more detailed population data and a downloadable population density map (PDF) for that country.

// 13 MOST POPULOUS COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

Population Bulletin, a publication of the Population Reference Bureau
Volume 59, Number 2, June 2004

This chart provides a comparative view of the population, land area, and population density of the thirteen most populous countries in the world, including China, India, and Japan, which are numbers 1, 2, and 10 on the list.

For the population density numbers, take into account population distribution, which is illustrated by the coloration of a population density map. (Population density maps for all 13 countries can be downloaded from the SEDAC website, above). The coloration of China's population density map, for example, shows that there are areas, as in the north, where the population is 1000 or more per square kilometer, and other areas, as in the west, where it is under 1 per square kilometer.

CASE STUDY: CHINA
// CHINA'S POPULATION DENSITY
Population Density Map of China, 2000 [SEDAC]
// KEY READING: CHINA'S POPULATION ISSUES

In terms of population China is, of course, the world's largest country, and China's population is its most significant resource. This Asia for Educators key reading, China's Population, examines the issue of population as a resource in China and covers the following topics. Clicking on a link will bring up the unit in another window. Suggested Questions for Discussion that can be used to guide students through the material are grouped together at the end of the unit.

// ADDITIONAL READING: CHINA'S POPULATION TRENDS
READING: China's Population: New Trends and Challenges (PDF) [Population Bulletin, Population Reference Bureau] By Nancy E. Riley. Volume 59, Number 2, June 2004.
CASE STUDY: JAPAN
// JAPAN'S POPULATION DENSITY

Japan's population of 127,417,200, currently the tenth largest in the world, is remarkably homogeneous from an ethnic and linguistic perspective. A striking feature of Japan's population is that it is rapidly aging, as the country has the world's highest life expectancy coupled with declining fertility rates (actually below replacement). Although the rate of growth has slowed significantly in recent decades, Japan's population actually began to decline in 2006. Unlike countries in Europe and America, migration into Japan is quite low.

In comparison to the land area of the United States, the Japanese islands account for a relatively small land area (about the size of Montana or California), but in comparison to the many nations of Europe, Japan is about average.

Japan's relatively small land area coupled with its large population results in high population density. Also, Japan's land area is not only small, but very mountainous. Mountains cover four-fifths of the land. Cities and farms compete for the small amount of land that is flat.

1) Population Density Map of Japan, 2000 [SEDAC]; 2) Japan and Italy Side by Side: Outline Map

CASE STUDY: THE KOREAN PENINSULA
1) Population Density Map of North Korea, 2000 [SEDAC]; 2) Population Density Map of South Korea, 2000 [SEDAC]
CASE STUDY: VIETNAM

Although rarely thought of as a country with a large population, Vietnam, with a population of more than 83 million, is the 13th most populous country in the world. Its population is slightly smaller than that of Germany, Europe's most populous country and number 12 on the list, and exceeds the population of France or the United Kingdom, both of which have populations of about 60 million.

1) Population Density Map of Vietnam, 2000 [SEDAC]; 2) Map of Ethnolinguistic Groups in Vietnam and Cambodia [Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas]

LINK: Brief Description and Facts about Vietnam [WorldAtlas.com]

LINK: Demographic, Health, and Environmental Statistics for Vietnam [Population Reference Bureau]

HUMAN MIGRATION ROUTES
LINK: Atlas of the Human Journey [The Genographic Project, National Geographic] Click on the timeline to see a world map and migration routes for a specific time period. Under 40-35,000 B.C., put your mouse over the orange dot over China for "Human Hybridization." Click for the "Journey Highlight" for this topic, with text and two images — one, a bronze cast of "Peking Man" and another, for comparison, a modern skull dating to about 60,000 years ago.
| back to top |