Population Density Information and Statistics

Dhaka New Market
New Market, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Rehman Asad / Getty Images

Population density is an often reported and commonly compared statistic for places around the world. Population density is the measure of the number of people per unit area, commonly represented as people per square mile (or square kilometer).

The population density of the planet (including all land area) is about 38 people per square mile (57 per sq km). The population density of the United States is approximately 87.4 people per square mile, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Computing Population Density

To determine an area's population density, divide an area's total population by the land area in square miles (or square kilometers).

For example, Canada's population of 35.6 million (July 2017 estimated by the CIA World Factbook), divided by the land area of 3,855,103 square miles (9,984,670 sq km) yields a density of 9.24 people per square mile. 

Although this number would seem to indicate that 9.24 people live on each square mile of Canadian land area, the density within the country varies dramatically; a vast majority lives in the southern part of the country. Density is only a raw gauge to measure a population's disbursement across the land.

Density can be computed for any area, as long as one knows the size of the land area and the population within that area. The population density of cities, states, entire continents, and even the world can be computed.

What Country Has the Highest Density?

The tiny country of Monaco has the world's highest population density. With an area of three-fourths of a square mile (2 sq km) and a total population of 30,645, Monaco has a density of almost 39,798 people per square mile.

However, because Monaco and other microstates have very high densities due to their extremely small size, Bangladesh (population 157,826,578) is often considered the most densely populated country, with more than 2,753 people per square mile.

What Country Is the Most Sparse?

Mongolia is the world's least densely populated country, with only five people per square mile (2 per sq km). Australia and Namibia tie for a close second with 7.8 people per square mile (3 per sq km). These two countries are further examples of density being a limited statistic, as Australia may be huge, but the population resides mainly on its coasts. Namibia has the same density figure but a much smaller total land area.

Most Tightly Packed Continent

Perhaps not surprisingly, the most densely populated continent is Asia. Here are the population densities of the continents:

  • North America - 60.7 people per square mile
  • South America - 61.3 people per square mile
  • Europe - 187.7 people per square mile
  • Asia - 257.8 people per square mile
  • Africa - 103.7 people per square mile
  • Australia - 7.8 people per square mile

Most Densely Populated Hemisphere

About 90 percent of the Earth's people live on 10 percent of the land. Additionally, about 90 percent of the people live north of the equator in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Rosenberg, Matt. "Population Density Information and Statistics." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/population-density-overview-1435467. Rosenberg, Matt. (2023, April 5). Population Density Information and Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/population-density-overview-1435467 Rosenberg, Matt. "Population Density Information and Statistics." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/population-density-overview-1435467 (accessed June 5, 2023).