Saturday, August 12, 2006

How Much Elbow Room?

Later this year, the U.S. population will top 300 million people. The last time we passed a 100 million mark was in 1967. The United States is a big country, and we have a long way to go before we are as densely populated as most other countries of the world. In 2005, there were 80 people per square mile in the United States, according to the Population Reference Bureau. That's up from 57 people per square mile in 1967.

While it's getting more crowded around here, we still have a lot more elbow room than most other countries. Among the world's 200-plus nations, we rank around the 25th percentile in population density. China, the world's most populous country, has a population density of 353 people per square mile. India fits 869 people into each of its square miles. Japan has even more, with 876. Those countries seem empty in comparison to the most densely populated nation in the world, Bangladesh, with 2,594 people per square mile.

Americans have more space to themselves than do most Europeans. France has 285 people in each of its square miles. Germany is even more tightly packed with 598, and the United Kingdom tops it with 635. Some nations are emptier than we are, including Brazil (56) and Russia (22). The Canadians, with only 8 people per square mile, and the Australians with an even smaller 7, would feel downright claustrophobic in our crowds.

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