Center of population

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The point on earth closest to everyone in the world on average is in the northern part of South Asia, with a mean distance of 5,000 kilometers (3,000 mi). Its antipodal point is correspondingly the farthest point from everyone on earth, and is located in the South Pacific near Easter Island, with a mean distance of 15,000 kilometers (9,300 mi).

In demographics, the center of population of a region is the geographical point nearest to all the inhabitants of that region, on average.


[edit] Determination

Centers of population are usually computed by minimizing a population-weighted average of a distance metric. In other words, for some place P, the distance from P to a list of populated places is computed, and the distance to each populated place from P is weighted by the population of that place. The choice of P for which such a weighted average has the lowest value is held to be the center of population for the particular list of populated places used.

In practice, the person or agency doing the calculation decides whether to represent the area of interest in two-dimensional or three-dimensional space, and also the specific function to use for computing distances. For the particular case of flat maps, the center of population could also be defined as a center of mass (centroid) of the population of the area of interest.

Decisions are also made on the granularity (i.e., the "coarseness") of the population data, depending on population density patterns or other factors. For instance, the center of population of all the cities in a country may be different from the center of population of all the states (or provinces, or other subdivisions) in the same country. Different methods may yield different results.

Practical uses for finding the center of population include locating possible sites for forward capitals, such as Brasilia, Astana or Austin. Practical selection of a new site for a capital is a complex problem that depends also on population density patterns and transportation networks.

[edit] World

It is important to use a culturally neutral method when dealing with the entire world. As described in [1], the solution methodology deals only with the globe, and not with a two-dimensional projection of the Earth's surface. As a result, the answer is independent of which map projection is used or where it is centered. As described above, the exact location of the center of population will depend on both the granularity of the population data used, and the distance metric. With geodesic distances as the metric, and a granularity of 1,000 kilometers (600 mi), meaning that two population centers within 1000 km of each other are treated as part of a larger common population center of intermediate location, the world's center of population is found to lie "at the crossroads between China, India, Pakistan and Tajikistan", essentially located in Afghanistan, with an average distance of 5,200 kilometers (3,200 mi) to all humans [2]. The data used in the reference support this result to only a precision of a few hundred kilometers, hence the exact location is not known.

[edit] By country

[edit] Australia

Australia has not seen its population centroid move drastically since the creation of the country. In 1911, the centroid was in central New South Wales; in 1996, it was only slightly farther northwest.[1]

[edit] Bangladesh

The center of population for Bangladesh is close to Dhaka.[citation needed]

[edit] Canada

In 1993, the mean population center of Canada was found to be in the Township of Laxton, Digby and Longford, Victoria County,[citation needed] now part of the city of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.

[edit] Finland

In Finland, the center of population is located in the municipality of Hauho.[citation needed] It is moving slightly to the west and south every year because people are moving out of the periphery areas of northern and eastern Finland.

[edit] Germany

In Germany, the center of population is located in Spangenberg, Hesse close to Kassel.[2]

[edit] Great Britain

The center of population in Great Britain did not move much in the 20th century. In 1901, it was in Rodsley, Derbyshire and in 1911 in Longford. In 1971 it was at Newhall, South Derbyshire and in 2000, it was in Appleby Parva, Leicestershire.[3][4]

[edit] Japan

The center of population of Japan is in Gifu Prefecture, almost directly north of Nagoya city, and has been moving East South East for the past few decades. [5] More recently, the only large regions in Japan with significant population growth have been in Greater Nagoya and Greater Tokyo.

[edit] Sweden

The demographical center of Sweden is Hallsberg, Örebro county. Between the 1989 and 2007 census the center of population moved a few kilometres to the south, due to a decreasing population in northern Sweden and immigration to the south. [6]

[edit] Thailand

For Thailand, the center of population lies in the central plains area northwest of Bangkok.[citation needed]

[edit] USA

The mean center of United States population has been calculated for each U.S. Census since 1790. If the United States map were perfectly balanced on a point, this point would be its physical centroid. Currently this point is located in Phelps County, Missouri, in the east-central part of the state. However, when Washington, D.C. was chosen as the federal capital of the United States in 1790, the center of the U.S. population was in Kent County, Maryland, a mere 47 miles (76 km) east-northeast of the new capital. Over the last two centuries, the mean center of United States population has progressed westward and, since 1930, southwesterly, reflecting population drift.

[edit] Median centers of population

A median center of population can be used to show where the median east vs west person lives. A person living near Louisville, Kentucky has about half of the US population living north of him and half of the US population living south of him. This measure is meaningful only along the specific coordinate axes (north-south and east-west).

Recently, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in Massachusetts declared that the world's Christian Center of Gravity was located in Timbuktu, Mali. According to their definition of Center of Gravity, half of all Christians live west of Timbuktu and half live south of Timbuktu.

[edit] Sources

  • Bellone F. and Cunningham R. (1993). "All Roads Lead to... Laxton, Digby and Longford." Statistics Canada 1991 Census Short Articles Series.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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