What does it mean when in certain publications they write population density (1000 people/km2)? Does it mean that they calculate the population density by dividing the number of people by the area of land in square meter and then they divide the result by 1000?

  • 1
    It's unclear from your question whether you are asking about Value: 1000 Units: People per square kilometer or Value: 1.0 Units: Thousand people per square kilometer. The accepted (but probably unfairly downvoted) answer assumes the latter, so clarification might be necessary.
    – Vince
    Feb 20, 2020 at 18:05
  • Vince, thank you for your comment. I am relatively new to the website. In the publication itself it was written as such: Population density in each Jiedao (1000 people/km2) where the mean is 1.937 and the standard deviation is 2.670
    – Grace
    Feb 25, 2020 at 9:12
  • Please Edit the question to provide clarifications. It might help to specify if all the papers in the publication use these units (publisher's preference) or whether this seems to be a feature of only one set of researchers.
    – Vince
    Feb 25, 2020 at 11:28

4 Answers 4


Population density is simply calculated by:

Number of People / Land Area

Therefore, 1000 people/km2 is the population density in your case.

Often, population density is measured in km^2 or mi^2 as finer measurements such as people/m^2 or ft^2 would not be very useful in interpretation.

According to the US Census Bureau:

Population density allows for broad comparison of settlement intensity across geographic areas. In the U.S., population density is typically expressed as the number of people per square mile of land area. The U.S. value is calculated by dividing the total U.S. population (316 million in 2013) by the total U.S. land area (3.5 million square miles).


When comparing population density values for different geographic areas, then, it is helpful to keep in mind that the values are most useful for small areas, such as neighborhoods. For larger areas (especially at the state or country scale), overall population density values are less likely to provide a meaningful measure of the density levels at which people actually live, but can be useful for comparing settlement intensity across geographies of similar scale.

  • So how does 1000 fit into the formula? I am confused because number of people/population can be less than or equal to or greater than or equal to 1000. Jul 22 at 16:10

They calculate the population density by dividing the number of people by the area of land in square kilometer. If you want to get in people/m2, then you have to divide the result by 1.000.000.

1.000 people / km2 = 0.001 people / m2 (statistically)
1.000.000 people / km2 = 1 people / m2 (statistically true. It doesn't mean that one person lives in each 1 m2)


Assuming 1,000,000,000 people living in a land. The land's area is 10,000,000km2.Density= 1,000,000,000 divided by 10,000,000 which equals 100 people/km2. Thus, the density is 100.


Yes if it is written like that(1000/km²). Assuming 1000 people live in 1 km², the density will be 1.

  • 1
    I know from talking with folks who visited hard-core population modeling researchers that some are loathe to permit disaggregation, so it's unlikely that 1000 thousand-persons-per-square-kilometer would be represented as 1 person-per-square-meter. While that may be appropriate units for a fire marshall or stadium architect, population researchers tend to work with humanity writ large, so thousands of persons per square kilometer seems not inappropriate.
    – Vince
    Feb 25, 2020 at 12:06

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