Weird population

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I saw on the news that Obama was going to visit Beijing pretty soon, and got to thinking...why does China have so many more people than the USA, when ostensibly, as the worlds melting pot, we should be the "Times square" of the planet and attract the greatest volume of planetary (even galactic) drifters. So, to further pursue my inquisitiveness, I decided to look at the distribution of populations of all the planet Earth's countries in order to see if I could see any interesting patterns. What I found is that China and India each have roughly 4 times the number of people than the USA, which came in (a distant) third. I'm no statistician, but 4 times? Each? I've been all over the USA and it seems to me like we're packed in like sardines. Now I'm trying to imagine 4 continental USA's stacked 4 high or 4 wide, and then multiplying that by 2 in order to account for both China and India. It's mind bending.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population

If you look at the distribution of the rest of the 200 or so countries on the list, it looks like a more reasonable distribution, with perhaps the exception of the population of Russia, which is half the USA, but occupies an enormous amount of territory. Another surprise for me was Canada. Only 35 million? About 1/10 that of the USA? That's less than the population of California, and Canada has a similar geographical size to the USA.

In any case, does anyone else think that these population distributions are odd? One might think that when these populations/governments began to get so large, they would splinter into smaller, autonomous governments. What has kept India and China together in order to allow their populations to become so disproportionately large relative to the other countries?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Astronuc
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The population distributions are related to history and geography.

One should study Chinese and Indian history that go back 3000+ years, while the European colonization of North America is a relatively recent event. The colonies started slowly less than 400 years ago, and the US was established about 238 years ago.
 
  • #3
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Astronuc's response is one part of the answer, something else that would play a part would be the damage the Old World diseases inflicted on the Native Americans during and after colonisation.
 
  • #4
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The population distributions are related to history and geography.

One should study Chinese and Indian history that go back 3000+ years, while the European colonization of North America is a relatively recent event. The colonies started slowly less than 400 years ago, and the US was established about 238 years ago.
Yeah, but.....can we really relegate this to ancestral "squatting rights?" The colonization or least "inhabitation" of Europe and the middle east came way before that of India and China, let's go back 30,000 years, and look how many times the map of Europe has been drawn and re-drawn, and continues to do so. Relatively, the borders of China and India have not changed much, especially recently (20th-21st century). Furthermore, there are arguments that the population rate of Europe has actually been decreasing for sometime now, whereas the global rate of population increase is skyrocketing.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_decline
"A number of nations today, stretching from North Asia (Japan) through Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Georgia,Armenia, and into Central and Western Europe, including Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, and now Italy and Portugal, along with Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, now face long-term population decline"
 
  • #5
Danger
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Another surprise for me was Canada. Only 35 million? About 1/10 that of the USA? That's less than the population of California, and Canada has a similar geographical size to the USA.
Get yer eyes off of my border, junior. We're keeping our land.
Do remember that nations are socio-political constructs, not natural occurrences. Africa could be one big country instead of a few hundred little ones, but they divided it as they saw fit.
 
  • #6
Ryan_m_b
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The U.S. is on par, if not bigger, than Europe and has less than half the population. It surprises me that your perception is that you are packed like sardines. You should come to the UK: we have 1/5th of your population in 1/40th of the space.

As for why population sizes differ there are a multitude of reasons. There could be religious or other cultural values that encourage large families or lack of contraceptives. In the western world contraception, medical science and rights for women have all played a part in lowering birth rates (by preventing children, allowing more to reach adulthood and giving women more roles and careers besides housewife and mother). I don't know about India but China experienced large growth due to a prolonged period of development with an agricultural revolution thrown in. You could consider that they've experienced something akin to the population boom the west had in the 20th century but starting from a larger initial population. I'm sure the demographic changes of these countries and the reasons for them are well documented somewhere.
 
  • #7
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Get yer eyes off of my border, junior. We're keeping our land.
Sorry, Danger, your land is safe from me (for the most part). I only cross over the border north of Bellingham once every month or two for a few days to stock up on low-grade over the counter codeine tablets and the occasional starry-eyed Canadian beauty model that tends to hang out at these pharmacies wanting a guide to show them the lower 48. I'm in and out so quick you won't even notice me.
 
  • #8
Danger
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I'm in and out so quick you won't even notice me.
Was that addressed to me, or were you still talking to the beauty model? :p
 
  • #9
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So I'm guessing here that you're saying that the Canadians have their Mounties and Americans have their Minutemen?o_O
 
  • #10
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I say Asian people are on average more pacific and more obedient to authority than Europeans. You don't see the Japanese and South Korean societal hierarchies in other place in the world (except in monarchies/dictatorships of course, where people are forced to do that), regarding university and work. For example, in South Korea, it's against the norm for an university student of a given year, to speak to a student of another year. You speak to the people of your year and course, and nobody else. Also Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan score very high on the safety index, well above any developed Western country. So that can explain why all the big countries are in Asia (including half of Russia): because without revolts and independentist movements, a monarch can grow the country ever larger.
US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina, after they emerged from the European colonialist powers as independent countries, took the good things European countries have developed by then, and dropped the "bad things" such as monarchies. They were much more inclusive to the general population (well, initially excluding the non-whites from politics though, as we know) than European countries have been before - democracy gives stability in certain conditions, because it doesn't exclude people, and reduces the incentive to seize power. In a monarchy or dictatorship there's a big incentive to plot a government takeover, since then your political party/group can have almost all of the country's resources. So that could explain why they're bigger than the European countries. Had these countries continued with the monarchy system, I think smaller countries would have been formed.
 
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  • #11
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... in South Korea, it's against the norm for an university student of a given year, to speak to a student of another year.
...
This is the first time I hear of that.
 
  • #12
WWGD
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I saw on the news that Obama was going to visit Beijing pretty soon, and got to thinking...why does China have so many more people than the USA, when ostensibly, as the worlds melting pot, we should be the "Times square" of the planet and attract the greatest volume of planetary (even galactic) drifters. So, to further pursue my inquisitiveness, I decided to look at the distribution of populations of all the planet Earth's countries in order to see if I could see any interesting patterns. What I found is that China and India each have roughly 4 times the number of people than the USA, which came in (a distant) third. I'm no statistician, but 4 times? Each? I've been all over the USA and it seems to me like we're packed in like sardines. Now I'm trying to imagine 4 continental USA's stacked 4 high or 4 wide, and then multiplying that by 2 in order to account for both China and India. It's mind bending.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population

If you look at the distribution of the rest of the 200 or so countries on the list, it looks like a more reasonable distribution, with perhaps the exception of the population of Russia, which is half the USA, but occupies an enormous amount of territory. Another surprise for me was Canada. Only 35 million? About 1/10 that of the USA? That's less than the population of California, and Canada has a similar geographical size to the USA.

In any case, does anyone else think that these population distributions are odd? One might think that when these populations/governments began to get so large, they would splinter into smaller, autonomous governments. What has kept India and China together in order to allow their populations to become so disproportionately large relative to the other countries?
But while China is a bit larger than the US, the US is more than 2.5 times the size of India, so multiply that 4 by 2.5, and you get that india is around 10 times as densely-packed as the US.
 
  • #13
Ryan_m_b
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  • #14
WWGD
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Maybe urban sprawl makes it seem like the country is packed, since you see people everywhere. Still, you can drive in the middle of the country, in parts of Illinois to Washington State and see no one for hours.
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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Yeah, but.....can we really relegate this to ancestral "squatting rights?" The colonization or least "inhabitation" of Europe and the middle east....
Um...you were talking about the United States, no Europe. You slipped hemispheres.

China has been around for ten times as long as the United States. That's why it is more populated. This issue couldn't be simpler.

Also -- you think the US population is dense? Really?
 
  • #16
Danger
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you think the US population is dense? Really?
In what sense of the word...? :oops:

Sorry... I'll go home now... :s
 
  • #17
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So that can explain why all the big countries are in Asia (including half of Russia): because without revolts and independentist movements, a monarch can grow the country ever larger.
There could be something in that. Makes sense.

But while China is a bit larger than the US, the US is more than 2.5 times the size of India, so multiply that 4 by 2.5, and you get that india is around 10 times as densely-packed as the US.
I commented on this above but want to add one more thing regarding your perception of the USA being densely populated. In a list of ~240 nations and self governing territories the USA is in the bottom 25%.
Also -- you think the US population is dense? Really?
I get the point...I was kind of being half-facetious. I don't get out much (of the country or even the greater Seattle metropolitan area), but I realize we're sparsely populated in the US relative to many other countries. I do feel as though the entire planet as a whole is already getting dangerously overpopulated and it's just going to get worse. But that discussion is for another thread perhaps..

Again, I'm no statistician, my whole point of this post was that I just thought it was odd that, with there being over 200 countries on the planet, there would be these two countries that were gross outliers to the others, which seem to fit more into an intuitively understandable geographic/demographic model.

China has been around for ten times as long as the United States. That's why it is more populated. This issue couldn't be simpler.
I don't know if it is that simple. Maybe it is, but the colonization of Europe has been around even longer than China and, as I references in post #4, many of those countries are undergoing a population decline. I think there's something else going on here, and maybe it's along the lines of what Tosh5457 was talking about, but I don't know.
 
  • #18
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In what sense of the word...?
Oh, aren't we the double entendre comedian today, Danger...Hardy har har har...o0)
 
  • #19
russ_watters
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Again, I'm no statistician, my whole point of this post was that I just thought it was odd that, with there being over 200 countries on the planet, there would be these two countries that were gross outliers to the others, which seem to fit more into an intuitively understandable geographic/demographic model.

I don't know if it is that simple. Maybe it is, but the colonization of Europe has been around even longer than China and, as I references in post #4, many of those countries are undergoing a population decline. I think there's something else going on here, and maybe it's along the lines of what Tosh5457 was talking about, but I don't know.
You started by comparing the US to China/India and now you are comparing Europe to China/India. The answer changes when you change the question!

So for western Europe, population density is actually as high as or higher than China/India. As you would expect due to their age. So Europe's population is lower because it is much less land area. Different reason than for the US but still simple.
 
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  • #20
WWGD
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You started by comparing the US to China/India and now you are comparing Europe to China/India. The answer changes when you change the question!

So for western Europe, population density is actually as high as or higher than China/India. As you would expect due to their age. So Europe's population is lower because it is much less land area. Different reason than for the US but still simple.
Um...you were talking about the United States, no Europe. You slipped hemispheres.

China has been around for ten times as long as the United States. That's why it is more populated. This issue couldn't be simpler.
I think there is too much variation within Western Europe to do the comparison of densities, and the density of India is around 3x that of China. Spain has a density of around 233/sq. mi while the UK has around 650/sq.mi and Holland has around 1120/sq.mi .
 

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