Country Listing

China Table of Contents


Density and Distribution

Overall population density in 1986 was about 109 people per square kilometer. Density was only about one-third that of Japan and less than that of many other countries in Asia and in Europe. The overall figure, however, concealed major regional variations and the high person-land ratio in densely populated areas. In the 11 provinces, special municipalities, and autonomous regions along the southeast coast, population density was 320.6 people per square kilometer (see fig. 5).

In 1986 about 94 percent of the population lived on approximately 36 percent of the land. Broadly speaking, the population was concentrated in China Proper, east of the mountains and south of the Great Wall. The most densely populated areas included the Chang Jiang Valley (of which the delta region was the most populous), Sichuan Basin, North China Plain, Zhu Jiang Delta, and the industrial area around the city of Shenyang in the northeast.

Population is most sparse in the mountainous, desert, and grassland regions of the northwest and southwest. In Nei Monggol Autonomous Region, portions are completely uninhabited, and only a few sections have populations more dense than ten people per square kilometer. The Nei Monggol, Xinjiang, and Xizang autonomous regions and Gansu and Qinghai provinces comprise 55 percent of the country's land area but in 1985 contained only 5.7 percent of its population (see table 7, Appendix A).

Data as of July 1987