Show an understanding of the causes and consequences of over-population and under population.

Case Studies:

A country is underpopulated: Australia

A country which is overpopulated: Bangladesh

Australia: Under-populated


Underpopulation in Australia

  • Underpopulation occurs when there are far more resources in an area eg. food, energy, and minerals than the people
  • Australia’s landmass of 7,6 million km2
  • 22 million people (double Greece only)
  • Australia can export their surplus food, energy and mineral resources
  • They have high incomes, good living conditions, and high levels of technology and immigration.
  • Australia is the world’s thirteenth largest economy and has the world’s fifth-highest per capita income
  • It is probable that standards of living would rise, through increased production and exploitation of resources, if population were to increase.

The interactive map below was created by Australian Bureau of Statistics from the 2011 census.

Use the map to answer the following question.

1. Describe the population distribution of Australia. Make sure you give actual population density data and place names in your answer. Take screenshots to illustrate your answer.

2. Australia has a population of 20 million and is a similar size to the USA. However the USA has 300 million people living in it. Many areas of Australia are empty and it could support a higher population. Use the map below and the CIA factbook and page 13 of your text book to complete the table below. You will need to make your own copy in a word document.

Under populated Australia


GDP per Captia (US$)

Population Growth Rate (%)

Main sector of Employment

Net migration/1000 people

Fertility Rate

Largest Employment Sector with %

Value of exports (US$)

Why is much of Australia so sparsely populated?

3. Use the photographs from google maps and other sources to illustrate why large areas of Australia are sparsely populated and only a few small regions are more densely populated. You should give a location write a short explanation for each photo.

4. Read the problems below and then copy them into your document ranking them by importance. It is up to you to decide the order.

The problems created by under population in Australia?

• Shortage of workers which has led to lower optimum productivity.

• Conflicts caused in major cities such as Sydney by need to attract foreign workers.

• Not possible to exploit all resources and large areas of outback undeveloped/under utilised.

• Less people paying tax. 43% of the labour force will be due to retire in next 20 years. Taxes will have to be raised to fund retirement.

• Schools and hospitals may close because there are not enough people to support them.

• Public transport links might close because of less customers. It is unlikely that new transport systems will develop as there is not enough people to support them. This increases peoples reliance on cars.

• There may be less innovation and development.

• Hard to defend country.

Bangladesh: Over-populated

Bangladesh pop density.jpg

1) Describe the geographical location of Bangladesh

2) Name the largest river flowing through Bangladesh.

3) Use the google map and the map of population density to describe the population distribution in Bangladesh.

4) Name the four most densely populated regions of Bangladesh and give their population densities.

5) Name four regions with population densities below 500 people/km2.

6) Use photographs and other sources of information to create and illustrated explanation of the countries population distribution. Why are some areas more populated than others?

7) Click on the map above and make notes on the article giving special attention to the predicted changes in population and the problems Bangladesh faces due to over population.



  • The current population of Bangladesh is 163,332,546 as of Wednesday, September 21, 2016, based on the latest United Nations estimates.

  • Bangladesh population is equivalent to 2.19% of the total world population.

  • Bangladesh ranks number 8 in the list of countries by population.

  • The population density in Bangladesh is 1252 per Km2

  • The total land area is 130,172 Km2 (50,260 sq. miles)

  • 34.2 % of the population is urban (56,856,665 people in 2016)

  • The median age in Bangladesh is 26 years.



Bangladesh Summary

Why is the population grow rate high?

1. There is a general lack of availability and knowledge regarding contraceptives which leads to a high birth rate.
2. Condoms are also unpopular in Bangladesh.
3. The majority of the population work as subsistence farmers and children are regarded as an economic asset and therefore people have lots of children to help them work on the farms.
4. There is no state pension system in Bangladesh, so people also have lots of children with the hope that their children will take care of them when they are too old to work and provide for themselves.
5. Bangladesh is a poor country (GDP per capita is approximately $240.00), which lacks suitable medical facilities and vaccinations. IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) is therefore high and so people have lots of children to replace those that die at a young age.
6. Females are not fully emancipated which is another contributory factor to the country having a high birth rate.

What are the problems of Overpopulation in rural areas of Bangladesh?

1. Many people live on the fertile floodplains of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra River, farming rice and other agricultural products.
2. Due to these areas becoming so densely populated, the land is heavily farmed, leading to Over cultivation (Overuse of the land which results in taking too many nutrients from the soil).
3. The farmers are poor and therefore cannot afford to replace the nutrients in the soil, so the soil becomes infertile, which leads to a lowering of crop yields. This can cause an insufficient supply of food and result in some people becoming Malnourished.
4. Bangladesh suffers from annual floods during the Monsoon season. Tropical Cyclones are also funneled up the Bay of Bengal where dense populations live on the fertile floodplains of the Ganges Delta. As a result of being poor, and having insufficient resources to protect themselves from these Climatic Hazards, this often results in a high death rate.

What are the problems of Overpopulation in Bangladesh’s cities?

1. Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh, and many people have migrated to Dhaka from the rural areas. This increases the population density in Dhaka and puts pressure on resources such as housing, health care, water and sanitation, education etc.
2. Many people cannot afford to live in permanent accommodation and will be forced to live in Bustees (name for Shanty towns in India and Bangladesh) located on the edge of the Dhaka. These residences are semi-permanent, sub-standard, overcrowded and lack amenities such as electricity, sewage disposal, and clean water supplies, which contribute towards the spread of diseases and an increase in the death rate.
3. Too many people in the cities cause a stress on health care and medical facilities such as hospitals and medication, which again contributes towards a higher death rate.
4. More people mean more traffic, which causes congestion problems and the release of Nitrous Oxide from exhaust fumes causes air pollution. With limited funds the government cannot afford to develop the transport system.
5. Many people will not be able to find a job which leads to high unemployment rates, or people working in low paid informal sector employment. In addition to this, poor access to education in both rural and urban areas results in many people being unqualified and therefore they struggle to get a well paid job and live in poverty.

What are some the solutions to these problems?

1. Provide more knowledge and availability to contraceptives such as condoms and the pill.
2.Build more family planning and educate the people regarding the dangers of having too many children.
3. Raise literacy rates and enable better access to education, which can contribute towards improving the status of females and contribute to a lowering of the birth rate.
4. Develop industry and increase exports, which can lead to economic growth and increased wealth in the country. Money can then be spent on improving infrastructure such as sewage systems, clean piped water supply, and hospitals etc which will lower the death rate, increase life expectancy and improve the standards of living. Increased wealth can also contribute to improvements in technology, such as the use of more productive agricultural techniques such as the use of agrochemicals and HYVs, which will improve people’s diet, lower the death rate and increase life expectancy.
5. Build more flood defense schemes and shelters to protect people from Climatic Hazards such as floods and Cyclones.




  • There could be unemployment because there are not enough jobs for everyone

  • There could be a shortage of schools and hospitals

  • There could be a shortage of hoses and informal settlements grow

  • Congestion may increase as there are more cars, buses, etc. on the road

  • Prices may increase as demand for houses, resources, etc. increase (inflation)

  • There may be a shortage of clean drinking water, electricity, etc.

  • There may be an increase in air, noise and water pollution e.g. open sewers, fires, etc.

  • The rural-urban fringe may be damaged as informal settlements are built

  • There are a shortage of workers

  • There will be less people paying tax

  • Schools and hospitals may close because there are not enough clients

  • Public transport links might close because of less customers

  • There may be less innovation and development (lee brain power)

  • Not possible to exploit all resources

  • Hard to defend country

  • Necessary to attract migrants


Exam Style Questions.

(i) Suggest the likely effects of under-population on the economy of a region. [3]

(ii) Explain the problems over-population may cause for the people and natural environment of a region. (5)

(iii) Overpopulation occurs when there are too many people living in an area for the resources which are available. Explain how the relationship between population and resources can cause overpopulation? You should use examples were possible [7 Marks ]