Population Density – just how much room do you need?

Population Density – just how much room do you need?

Look at any list of population density by country, and you’ll be sure to find Australia pretty close to the bottom. Often called the “island continent”, Australia, as a country, has a population density of just over 3 people per square km. Mongolia, at 1.4 people per square km, is the least densely populated country.

In both cases – plenty of room.

At the other end of the scale, Monaco is the most densely populated sovereign country, with over 20,000 people per square km, followed closely by Singapore at just over 18,000.



By the way, the population density of the whole World (land masses only….) is just 48 people per square km.

Of course, a look at the population density of a whole country ignores the high densities that can occur in city environments.

Also – when looking at densities of cities, it’s important to distinguish between cities proper (which can include all the surrounding areas) or just the downtown city itself.

Many observers comment that the densities of Manhattan Island or Hong Kong are among the most densely populated areas in the world – when they do so they refer to specific districts, not the whole of New York City or the whole of Hong Kong – so let’s use that definition.

So – the most populated district in the world? Kowloon? Macau? Manhattan? No – not even close.

The most populated district in the world is the subdivision of Lalbagh in Dhaka in Bangladesh, boasting over 168,000 residents per square km.

The Kwun Tong district in Hong Kong is actually 45th on the list, at 51,000 people per sq km.


But if Australia, the island continent, is the world’s least densely populated island – what is the most?

The highest population density island in the world is widely regarded as Santa Cruz del Islote, off the coast of Colombia.


It’s just .01 of a square km, so with 1200 inhabitants, their population density is over 100,000 people per square km.

And given the average size of a new Australian home is 215 sq m,not many of them would actually fit on the island…

(By the way- the average size of a new home in the UK is just 76 sqm, and in Hong Kong just 45 sqm.)

What do you think? Are Australian homes too big?

For information about the population density of your council area, check out the community profile in our demographic resource centre. If your council doesn’t subscribe to and you would like to learn more about it, visit our website or email us for more information.

.id the population experts

Jim - ideas, observations and handy shortcuts

Jim has been a member of the .id team since early 2010, following 10 years as a Director in local government and prior to that, many years at IBM. Jim is also a former .id client and recognised the value of .id’s tools in council decision making. He decided to join .id to help spread the word! He manages .id’s local government clients in Queensland and South Australia, helping them to use .id’s tools for informed strategy and policy decisions. Outside work, Jim enjoys learning Spanish, travel (especially to Spanish speaking locales) and collects the odd car or two…

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