Population Density: How Does Australia Compare to the Rest of the World?

Australia’s population is estimated at 24.77 million as of 2018, up by 3.27 million or 16 percent from 21.5 million based on the last official census in 2011. The country ranked 53rd in the list of world population and is three times more populated than neighbouring New Zealand, which has 4.5 million people.  

 

Papua New Guinea, another neighbouring island, has a population of 8.2 million. The average population growth rate in Australia is estimated at a little over 1 percent annually, which is driven by various factors including migration.

Australia’s population density vs other countries

The country’s land territory is the sixth largest in the world at 7.692 square kilometres. When measuring the population against its land area, Australia has one of the lowest densities in the world.  

 

Compared with the population density of other countries such as that of the United States, which is 31.27 persons per square kilometre, Australia has only 2.66 persons/km2. It also has a lower density than Canada’s 3.3 persons /km2, New Zealand’s 15.37 persons/ km2, and the United Kingdom’s 248.25 persons/ km2.

Australian cities’ population densities as seen by some demographic experts

According to Demographia, a US-based think tank that publishes annual international housing affordability surveys, Australian cities, though ranked among the largest cities in the world in terms of size, are inversely among the less densely populated urban areas.

 

Demographia cited Melbourne as geographically Australia’s largest urban area, at 2,453 km2 and is known to be the 32nd largest city in the world. According to Demographia’s list, out of the 1,040 cities surveyed, Melbourne’s population density of an estimated 1,500 people/ km2 is ranked 955th.

 

The same Demographia-sponsored survey listed Sydney as 43rd in terms of urban footprint size (2,037 km2). Whilst it recognises that Sydney is Australia’s most populous city at approximately 1,900 people/ km2, like Melbourne, it also belongs in the bottom list as it ranked 936th in population density.

 

In comparison, CityLab, a media platform based in New York, listed the United Kingdom as among the moderately populated countries at 248 persons/ km2. It reported that the highly urbanised West London side, which is the most densely populated area in the UK, has around 20,000 people/ km2.  Meanwhile, Dhaka in Bangladesh, a country belonging to the top list of world population, has a population density of 45,000 people/km2.

 

Compared with the demographics of other countries around the world, the Australian population density and that of its cities are at the bottom of world statistics.

Finding the true story behind the numbers

Dr. Michael Grosvenor of the University of Queensland, an urban planning expert, believes that some demographers are using inaccurate measures on the Australian population density. He argued that it is mathematically correct to measure population density to divide the land area by the total population of the specific location. However, this does not mean that it is a fool-proof estimation, however the results could offer an accurate picture of the specific place’s actual demographic situation.

 

Dr. Grosvenor said that whilst recent global comparisons placed Sydney as sparsely populated compared to American cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, this is not the reality as such measurements are not done properly. The Australian urban planner said that if the measure considers the residents of Potts Point, Chippendale and Ultimo, which are inner city suburbs located east of Sydney and are about two to three kilometres from the city’s central business district (CBD), then population density would rise to above 15,000 people/ km2.  

 

Another inner suburb of Sydney is Parramatta, which can be considered as densely populated with 4,800 people/ km2. The city is located on the western side of Sydney with a distance of almost 25 kilometres from the main CBD.

Using the correct variables to yield correct statistics

To support his contention, Dr. Grosvenor said that geographically, North American cities differ from the regional boundaries of Sydney which include large tracts of land and open spaces, as well as a number of national parks; thus, simply dividing land area by the population would not yield the city’s true density. In other words, you have to take into consideration other factors such as sprawl, commute, housing and other infrastructure development policies and regulations that affect the way people decide where they should live.

 

In Sydney alone, parking spaces are a high-value necessity, given the sheer number of people with access to private vehicles and who make a daily drive to and from the city. Urban sprawl for instance is big in Sydney, as it is considered one of the world’s largest metro area catchments, attracting hundreds of thousands of the populace. In areas where the city council allows for development, Sydney is definitely one of the most densely populated cities around the world.

Dr. Grosvenor suggests using one of the best methods to correctly estimate density.

 

The same method was employed by the European Commission when it created a map called the Global Human Settlement Layer. This method of measuring density divided urban areas into square meter blocks and considered only those blocks where people actually lived in.

Help your city maximise space utilisation

There is no doubt that highly urbanised areas such as those within the CBDs of well-known cities around the world, including the Australian cities, are very appealing to people who seek comfortable living. They flock into the city, which they regard as a place where endless opportunities abound. However, one of the issues in overcrowded places is adequate parking and storage spaces.

 

If you need help in storing your things, Spacer is a good way to save on renting extra spaces. Whatever space you need to rent, be it parking or storage space in one of Australia's most famous cities, you can contact Spacer to avail of the perfect one for you. If you have extra space in your home, such as an extra garage, an unused shed or attic, talk to Spacer and learn how much extra cash you can make by renting it out.

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