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Crowded cities

The Taipei Times today reports that Taiwan has a population density of 629 people per square kilometer. Only Bangladesh has a higher population density among countries with a population of more than ten million. (Note: a number of smaller countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Monaco have higher population densities. See this list.)

The article doesn’t give much analysis but this article published in 2004 gives some more background to Taiwan’s population growth and issues of population density.

In 1950, before the commencement of its economic growth, only 24 percent of Taiwan’s population lived in towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants–the threshold that officially qualifies a place as “urban” in Taiwan. During the 1950s, as industrialization took off and employment opportunities in the towns and cities served as magnets for massive migration from rural areas, Taiwan’s urban centers experienced a population explosion of 8.9 percent per annum.

This very high rate of urban population growth slowed in the following decades but still averaged 5.5 percent per annum over the 40 years between 1950 and 1990. This was more than twice the islandwide average rate of population increase over the same time period. By 1990, three quarters of Taiwan’s population lived in urban areas and over 42 percent of the island’s people lived in the northern region focused on Taipei.

In the early 1950s, Taipei, with 610,000 inhabitants, was the only city in Taiwan whose population exceeded half a million. By 2001, the Taipei metropolitan area had a total of 2.7 million people with a wide range of job opportunities.

It is also worth considering that much of the east coast and central mountains remains relatively undeveloped. Hence the population density in the west coast and northern regions where the vast majority of people live is significantly higher than the average for the whole of Taiwan.

Wikipedia has a list of population densities of cities. According to the list Taipei has a population density of 9,660 people per square kilometre. Da’an district is the most densely populated area of Taipei with 27,546 people per square kilometre. Taipei is still less densely populated than Tokyo (13,333/km²), Mumbai (39,860/km²) and Manila (41,014/km²).

So while Taiwan may be densely populated as a country, Taipei is still not as densely populated as some of the other large cities in the Asian region. Reddit Digg Facebook Technorati Google StumbleUpon Yahoo

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Comment by Mark S.
2006-02-06 11:50:00

The sense of Taipei’s population density, however, is thrown off a little by the fact that Yangming Shan is within the city limits. So a great deal of Taipei’s official area is relatively uninhabited.

I’ve heard that Yangming Shan and even Tianmu used to be part of Taipei County, but I don’t know anything about the reasons for the change or when it happened.

Comment by David
2006-02-06 17:13:00

Thanks for your comment Mark. I guess I need to look for some more data.

Population density is often difficult to analyse because exactly what is defined as the area of a city can vary greatly. And, as you point out, the inclusion of a large area of low population density can give anomolous results.

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