A Growing Ink Blot Map of World Population Density

Most of our world maps are created with geographic and legal boundaries dictating how they are drawn… it’s highly useful for getting around the block, but hardly tells the whole tale of what is going on. What really matters much of the time? It’s all about where the people are… and this map shows only that.

Derek Watkins, a graduate student in Geography at the University of Oregon, has created a map that looks something like spilled ink and shows population density around the world. The flash based map features a slider, allowing viewers to adjust the view between densities of 5 people per square kilometer all the way to a sardine can tight, 500 people per square kilometer.

What really stands out about the map is the excess and lack of densities around the globe. Places like the Sahara, Siberia and surprisingly much of Australia show very little population, appearing as white as the ocean even at the lowest density. China and India, on the other hand, are still well represented on the map even at the seriously dense population of 500 people per square kilometer.

What does this map show overall? Really, it shows that even with the worlds immense population now over 7 billion people, there are still vast amounts of lightly populated area… and that’s not even mentioning the worlds oceans. For an interactive look at the map, see Derek Watkins website… or for a previous post about his work, see his mesmerizing animated map tracking U.S. expansion through the postal system.

Below: areas of the world with 5 or more people per square kilometer

Areas of the world with 100 or more people per square kilometer

Areas of the world with 500 or more people per square kilometer


Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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  1. flufybunnypuffsays:

    i like that its speckled with no country boarders, tho this map i cant tell where the water meets the land. use a satilite map w/o clouds, that shows the water and land clearly, then use colored speckles that will contrast from/not blend in with the blue water and green/brown/tan land. for the population, ex light purple speckles for light density, pink for medium density, light red for high density, dark red for very high density. and have a large legend saying what the population density is based on the colors.

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