Special Report

The Most Crowded Countries in the World

Detailed findings

Why do populations concentrate more intensely in some places than others? Both natural and human factors are involved. Low-lying flatlands are more hospitable to habitation, for instance, than mountains. Climate plays a key role as well — for example, the Mediterranean basin is more densely populated than the Sahara Desert or the Arctic — as does the availability of natural resources such as minerals, wood, fish, etc.

Proximity to a coastline is also a major factor: Almost half of the world’s population lives within 125 miles of a shoreline, and that number is projected to double by 2025. Fourteen of the world’s 17 largest cities — 11 of them in Asia — are along seacoasts. According to the PRB, benefits of coastal living include “improved transportation links, industrial and urban development, revenue from tourism, and food production.”

A healthy job market also encourages density. The population of Mumbai, for instance, has more than doubled since 1991, with employment opportunities a major draw for immigration from elsewhere in India. Some sources also cite social factors, positing that some groups of people enjoy isolation, while others prefer close company.

Methodology

To determine the most crowded countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the population density of 215 countries with data from the World Bank. Data on population and land area also came from the World Bank. Population density and land area was converted from square kilometers to square miles. A country’s land area is its total geographic area minus areas covered by inland bodies of water bodies such as major rivers and lakes. Population change was calculated using World Bank population estimates for 1990 and 2017. All data is for the most recent year available.