Population Distribution at the Global scale


This page introduces population distribution at both the global and regional scale. It looks to introduce the patterns of population distribution through a variety of maps.  The activities in the lesson are centered around maps and describing the patterns in a geographical way. A variety of interesting maps including infographics and ooze maps are used. The lesson is well resourced with student worksheets and one activity requires the students to evaluate different mapping techniques of population distribution. 

Enquiry Question

Where in the world are all the people?

Teaching time: 1 Hour

Learning Objectives:

  • To be able to describe and explain global patterns of population distribution

Teacher Notes:

1. Starter_Click on the Poddwaddle.com link to open the population clock which features live births and deaths and population sizes around the world. It also features an enormous amount of live data including causes of death and much more. Garbage into the sea is scary!

Students should track population growth through the lesson and discuss how statisticians record the data

2. Listening comprehension_Processes_ Population Change_Watch the Gapminder video on IKEA boxes and students can complete the simple (worksheet) labeling exercise as they watch

3. Graph analysis_ Synthesis_Show students the Gapminder graph that identifies Sub-Saharan Africa has the main region for future population growth. Students should identify the pattern and discuss its implications.

4. Ooze map analysis_Synthesis_Students can then describe the pattern of population distribution in the ooze map. Teacher should reinforce the skills, e.g. begin with generic pattern at the global scale, then pick out two regions of high population density and two regions with relatively low population density, not forgetting at least one area where people don't seem to live.

5. Explain map patterns_Synthesis_Students should study the population density map of the USA and attempt to suggest reasons for the variation in population density

6. Evaluation population maps - My favourite maps_Graph analysis _Synthesis_Students can then investigate the positives and negatives of different types of population map with the worksheet provided

Starter Activity - Population clock

Record the growth in estimated world population size during the course of your lesson

How are statisticians able to track world population growth?

Student Activity_Processes_Population Growth and Ikea Boxes

Watch the following Gapminder video by Hans Rosling and annotate the sheet provided to explain population growth from 1960.

Teacher Notes:

Key ideas:

Child survival has increased - with child mortality rates falling. This is caused by improved by economic growth, industrialization leading to the emerging economies. Population growth is caused by improved medical care, widespread use of vaccinations, education, improved nutrition and hygiene but a lag in family planning.

Student Activity -Synthesis - Discuss the Graph

Study the graph below and discuss:

a) The pattern shown

b) The implications of child survival for population growth?

 Source: Gapminder

Mark scheme (a)

Most countries and regions now appear to be in the bottom right corner with high child survival and low numbers of children per woman (1) Europe has the most developed status (1) Sub-Saharan Africa as a region lags behind along with a number of individual countries. (1)

(b) The implications suggest that has population size increases so too does child survival

 To access the remainder of the activities for this lesson click here

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