Why are countries like India and China so densely populated? What are the circumstances and reasons?
Jubin John, works at Google
The main reason for Asia's large population is its large area. However, it seems that it is a common perception that Asia is also densely populated. As people have already mentioned, the population densities of Asia (226/sq mile) and Europe (181/sq mile) are pretty close. I believe this view is prevalent more in North America and Europe and hence I will focus on them in the comparison.
Now, this brings us to the question:
"Why do people think that Asia is highly populated?".
For most people, India (1.241 billion) and China(1.344 billion) would come to mind. The high figures quoted give the impression of high density (which true to a certain extent in India but not so much in China). However, the area of these countries is underestimated as the world map(or to be accurate the Mercator map, which is most commonly used) is not to scale.
Just look at the map. Greenland looks huge in comparison to India but the fact is that it has just about two thirds the area. The reason for this is that countries farther away from the equator have been scaled up (stretched horizontally to put it crudely) to make the world map rectangular. This makes places like Antarctica look gigantic. Larger portions of Asia are closer to the equator than Europe and North America leading to the underestimation of its size.
All this is not to say that countries like India do not have a problem of overpopulation. The problems caused by high population are amplified greatly by lack of education and infrastructure.
A lot of it is due climate.
China has always had very high population level throughout history. This is partly due to the fact that large parts of its territory allow for multiple harvests a year which in turn provides higher amounts of food per farmer in comparison to agriculture done in more temperate climate zones, i.e. most parts of Europe.
If one person can provide food for a great number of people and if you multiply this effect throughout an entire society you get the amount of food necessary to sustain very large populations. However, China’s historically large population as always been greatly exposed to famine, too.
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Hemant Kumar, Enterpreneur (2015-present)
There are various reasons for India and China being densely populated.
We can not state it as overpopulation but dense population.
The circumstances and reasons are enumerated as :
- Riverine civilisations:
The early human civilisations were usually developed along river banks.
Early civilisations would get all their basic needs from the river to help them develop their settlements. They would get water,fishes, other wild animals for hunting and productive flood plains for cultivation along the rivers.Rivers were also a means of transport and hence conducive for trade between settlements.
In case of both India and China,they both are blessed with great river systems which are snow fed and perennial.
One of the oldest civilisations be it Mohen jo daro or Indus valley started on the river bank of Sindhu river.Sindhu river originates from snow covered peaks of Great Himalayas and hence perennial.
Other great rivers originating from himalayan snow are Ganges , Brahmaputra, and Yangtze and all these rivers are cradles of oldest civilisation and dense human habitations.
Yes there were other riverine civilisations like Mesopotamia and Babylone on the banks of Euphrates and Egyptian civilisation on the banks of Nile rivers. However these rivers were not perennial and some other conditions were not congenial for dense human settlements.
- Climatic Conditions:
Both India and China are blessed with very congenial climatic conditions.
These places are neither too hot nor too cold, just right enough for a variety of flora and fauna to survive. This is one reason that one finds largest gene pool of life in these places.
Compare these places with places like Russia, Canada, Northern parts of USA, most of Europe, Australia etc and one would find that they are either too cold or too hot for agriculture.
Russia and Canada are very cold and arctic.
USA also has got more of climatic extremes like winter arctic storms,Tornadoes and Hurricane.
Australia is very hot and covered by desert mostly.
- Arable Land:
Both India and China are consisting of one of the largest arable land mass.
As per UN survey arable land mass of top four countries is as follows:
United States 174.45 million hectares
India 159.65 million hectares
Russia 121.78 million hectares
China 103.40 million hectares
It is note worthy that Russian arable land area is too cold for intensive agriculture, and out of list mentioned above remaining three nations are top population countries.
India and China have very long history and new settlements have been taking place over a very long period.Both civilisations have been more than 5000 years old.
Nations like USA is very young and human settlements started very late in these areas.Whatever older habitations were there, they were exterminated by influx of Europeans.
The existing inhabitants of India and China became less aggressive over time under such agro-climatic conditions whereas people from areas like Arabian lands and Europe became very aggressive and violent under harsh living conditions. Migration from Europe and Arabian lands was a survival strategy and by the time these migrating populations reached India and China, they started settling along the productive plains. These were early settlements who have been contributing to dense population growth of India and China.
Industrialization started in Europe and America earlier than in India and China and both these countries remained agro based for a long time. Being agrarian economies, requirement of working hands was more a necessity. Hence people had the interest in increasing their progenies.
So in brief, all factors mentioned above have been the driving factors for dense human habitation and thereby a very large population in India and china.
Charu Joshi, lived in India
A not so appreciated theory by Malthus, a demographer, says that ‘food’ and ‘passion between sexes’ drives the population of a country. Ironically, the latter reason is looked down upon by the two of the most populous countries in this world. In both societies, pre-marital intercourse is traditionally unaccepted, while female infanticide marks a presence.
Both are the lands of ancient civilizations dating back to 1000–5000 BCE. Historically, these two societies are agrarian where a Marxist pattern of greater workforce leading to greater production was followed.
Consider this, eastern parts of the two Americas (Brazil, eastern states of USA etc.) are denser for the reasons that explorers settled there first and migrated later. Going by the same logic, the early people settled in the regions of India and China more than in any other place due to availability of resources. Added to this, was the prevalent ‘desire’ in both the civilizations to have a large family. India, though with a comparable growth rate was less populous than China because of its smaller area.
While India suffered its population explosion from 1950s to 1980s, Chinese political framework allowed it to adopt its strict one child policy (now 2 child), where penalties were assigned, as harsh as ineligibility for better housing and declaring pre-marital sex as illegal.
India, although in 1970s went overboard with its mass, often forced sterilization program, the policy was put to an end because of party politics and of course ‘religious sentiments’ of people. (Also, because it sort of did violate a human right or two). The new policy now focuses more on improving quality of life and incentives having less children.
China has considerably controlled its population. India, though now stabilizing is still not uniform in its demographics for the more educated states are under control and the poorer states (Bihar, UP ) are still receiving messages from god because no one in India has sex. This is another problem for the reason that to get greater seats in parliament, demography plays an important role and this just disincentives well performing state to adopt population control policies.
Causes of rapid growth of population in India
There are various causes responsible for the rapid growth of population in India. Generally all the causes can be divided into three categories like - (I) High birth rate, (II) Low birth rate, (III) Migration.
(I) High Birth Rate (Fertility) :
Birth rate refers to the number of children taking birth per thousand people. In 1991the birth rate was 29.9 per thousand. In 2000 the birth rate was 25.8 per thousand which is very compound to other counties of the world. Birth rate is high due to the following reasons.
Early Marriage System :
Early marriages are commonly seen in our country. It is generally in the case of women. Maximum number of girls are married between 16 to 18 years. Early marriage prolongs the childbearing period and this leads to a high rate of growth of population.
Universal Marriage :
Marriage is universal practice and regarded as a sacred obligation in India. Presently in India about 76 per cent of the women are married at their reproductive age. By attaining the age of 50 only 5 out of 100 Indian women remain unmarried. As marriage is universal in our country, the birth rate becomes higher which raise the growth rate pf population.
Joint Family System :
Thought the importance of jointly family system has considerably declined in our country the system has no disappeared till now. In a joint family system the children are looked after by all the earning members of the family. The system acts a protection against economic hardship. A member may not be in a position to earn something but when he gets married he gets more children. The birth rate as a result of which population increases.
Poverty is another factor which is mostly responsible for the rapid growth of population. India houses are the museum of poverty. According to 2001 census, nearly 37 per cent of people live below the poverty line. Small children in poor families are put to work and this helps to increase the family income. Children in poor families are considered as assets.
Illiteracy, ignorance and superstitions :
A majority of population in our country are illiterates. When illiteracy is combined with poverty it leads to firm belief a superstition. Children are considered as the gifts of God. They know nothing about the birth control measures. All those account of a higher birth rate in India's population.
Attitude towards male child :
Every Indians wants to have a male child. A male child is considered as an asset for the poor, a dowry earner for the greedy, and liberator for the God fearing, a life insurance for the middle man and a matter of pride for the mother.
(II ) Low Death Rate : (Mortality rate why low in India) :
Death rate refers to the number of death taking place in thousand people. According to the 1991 census, the death rate was 10 per thousand. It decreased to 8.5 per thousand in 2001. Following are the causes responsible for the low death rate in India.
Control of epidemic and other deadly disease:
Epidemic like cholera, smallpox, plague, malaria etc. which too away lakhs of lives has been successfully controlled an even completely eliminated. The number of people dying in diseases has fallen.
Development of medical science :
Due to the development of medical science and invention of life saving drugs the death rate has sharply declined. Spread of health care facilities and hospitals in rural areas has created consciousness among the people about their health. The drinking water facilities food and other sanitation measure has helped to people to escape from death. This reduces the death rate to a marked extent in India.
Decline of infant mortality rate :
The infant mortality rate has declined due to mass immunization programmes and proper medical treatment to the children. In 1994, the infant mortality rate was 74 per thousand which declined to 70 per thousand in 2006. hen infant mortality rate decreases death rate also increases leading to heavy population growth.
(III) Migration :
Migration is another important point which is responsible for the higher growth rate of population. Is is seen that large number of people migrate from foreign counties to India and permanently stay here. Although this factor is not very crucial yet has increased the population of our country. These are the most important factors responsible for the population explosion in our county.
Shailesh Hatte, lives in India
Well, let's look at the geography.
China and India are relatively big countries. So is the United States, which has the third largest population in the world. If the European Union was considered one country, it would have a population of half a billion.
All these countries are also in relatively temperate to tropical latitudes, with plenty of fertile land and easy navigable rivers. This is also the reason why, though having larger territories, Russia and Canada don't have large populations. Too cold and minimal natural transportation routes.
In terms of population density, India is ranked 33rd in the world, and China is 83rd. The US is ranked 179th for population density.
As an Indian, I'll add something specific to India.
For India, one reason is that the modern day state is really a combination of what have historically been many different countries with different ethnicities, cultural histories, and languages. When the British took over the subcontinent, they sort-of unified a whole bunch of independent kingdoms, and when they left and India became independent, they all fell together under one flag.
So modern day India is more like "The European Union" than "France" - the Tamil people in Tamil Nadu speak one language, the Malayali people in nearby Kerala speak another, while the Ladakhi people up in the Himalayas speak an entirely separate third - and none of the three speak Hindi. When we think of India, we tend to think of the monolithic whole, which has a very high population, when in fact no single region/state has even the population of America.
Falak Dawar, Wait for it!
There are many reasons for India having more than 1.2 billion population and still increasing.
1) India is one of the oldest civilization to exist, so it becomes an obvious reason to have a large population.
2) Democracy- Unlike some countries where it is ban on having more than one or two children, there is no such coercion in India.
3) The climate of country and fertility among people of India is good, which becomes a good reason behind the fact India having a large people.
4) Illiteracy and Unawareness- Here in India many people are unaware about contraceptives and some even hesitate to buy contraceptives, because in INDIA buying a CONDOM is a Taboo.
5) Poverty- Due to poverty, people consider that if they have many children then, there would be many people who'll work as helping hand for the family.
6) Religious reasons- In some religions using contraceptive is not allowed according to their scriptures, so people of those religions who follow their faiths religiously, don't use contraceptives, this is one of the biggest reason behind India having a so big population.
7) Old beliefs- There is already a big population exists in India, which thinks that children are representatives of God, so they like to have more children.
8) Son-wanting-mentality- In India irrespective of religion most people prefer sons rather than daughters, so to have more sons they take more chances to have children and in those cases where people are blessed by daughters and no son they try again and again until they are blessed by son.
Nikhil Pathare, an inquisitive Quoran
My 2 cents on high population in India. Back in early 1900s, owing to lack of medicinal facilities in rural areas, child death rate was very high. Thus, it was normal to have 6-8 children in a family, considering that only 2-3 of them would survive to adulthood.
Post independence, there was a general improvement in medicine availability and healthcare facilities in India, making the death rate go down drastically. However, Indian government during mid-twentieth century had a poor policy of advocating the importance of family planning to the masses. As a result the trend of having more than 4 children in the family continued for a few decades. The lag between fall of death rate and birth rate led to the exponential increase of the population in twentieth century.
Thus a population of 200 million in early 1900s shooted upto more than a billion by 2000.
Lars Eidevall, Artistic Director in international Performing arts at Palladium Malmo (1996-present)
Chinese civilisation has always grown based on rice farming along the big rivers, which formed a large population. 35% of work force today works in farming, around 240 million Chinese, 75 times the number of farmers in the USA. But through heavy industrialisation, farm land is diminishing and pollution is growing, so there are some serious issues to deal with there today. Today China has overcome the goal of 2 children per fertile couple (1,7 is the current level, which is lower than the US), so overpopulation is no longer a threat, but better use of resources is a challenge. In ancient times China had 50-100 million people, in the 18–19th century it doubled, with severe poverty and famines, and under Mao it doubled again from 500 to 1000 million, until the one child policy in 1979. Traditional agricultural societies give birth to around 6 children and hope for some of them to survive to take over. In the 1970s the ideal was 2 children in cities and 3–4 in the countryside.