Monday 11 June 2012

The Population of China

In a few weeks I will be travelling to China for a conference, where I'm co-presenting a paper on regional inequalities in China and the EU. This has meant I've had to get hold of lots of Chinese datasets, some of which I have produced maps from - so I thought I'd post one or two here, along with some facts and figures. I should point out that most of the data I've been using has come from the National Bureau of Statistics of China website. 

Higher resolution version

In this 3D map I've just extruded the surface using population density data at a very local level. This required a reasonable amount of computing power but the effect is simply to emphasise the significant West/East split in population within China. This geographical division has been the topic of discussion for a long time and in relation to a number of areas but is generally referred to as the Hu Huanyong line (also sometimes the Hu line, Heihe-Tengchong Line or Aihui-Tengchong Line), after the Chinese population geographer of the same name. Strangely enough, there is a Facebook page dedicated to the Hu line. The line divides China roughly into two parts. In 1935 when Hu first identified the split, the West had 57% of the area and 4% of the population. Today, the East has 94% of the population of China, but only 43% of the area. You can see how this looks in the map below... 

I'm still working on my parts of the presentation but am really fascinated by the facts and figures emerging from the 2010 Chinese census and data for different regions of China. China accounts for almost exactly 20% of the world population and both Beijing and Shanghai (i.e. the provinces) have 20 million or more people. I still need to learn a lot more about China, Chinese data and regional development there generally but my work so far suggests that patterns of regional inequality - while different in absolute terms - are often strikingly similar to patterns of regional inequality in Europe. A good example of this is in Jiangsu province, to the north of Shanghai.

Citations: Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN - Columbia University, International Food Policy Research Institute - IFPRI, The World Bank, and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical - CIAT. 2011. Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project, Version 1 (GRUMPv1): Population Density Grid. Palisades, NY: NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). Accessed 10 June 2012.

Balk, D.L., U. Deichmann, G. Yetman, F. Pozzi, S. I. Hay, and A. Nelson. 2006. Determining Global Population Distribution: Methods, Applications and Data. Advances in Parasitology 62:119-156.

P.S. Thanks are due to Chunhua Liu for her insights here!