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Population density?


Mr. R
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As I am updating/ modifying "The Star Crown Empire" I was curious about something.  Now most of the action takes place in a LARGE inland basin.  All but one river flows into a central lake and all the countries are gathered around it.  I have been following a thread on RPGnet about Gurps Banestorm setting and there was a comment about population and population density in these countries.  So I roughly calculated the PD of the Empire.  

 

Length 800 miles E-W

Width 500 miles N-S

Gefting Sea is 300 by 100.  Total area 30000 Square miles

 

Total Land Area 400000 Square miles minus 30000 = 370000 Square miles of land.

Population 925000

 

Population Density 2.5/SQ mi.

 

So is this high?  Low?  Take into account this is a roughly medieval type civilization as far as tech and society goes!

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I googled "medieval population density" and the first hit was on-point:

https://gamingballistic.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Medieval-Demographics-Made-Easy-1.pdf

 

The topical bit:

Quote

Some Historical Comparisons: Medieval France tops the list, with a 14th-century density just upwards of 100 people/sq. mile. The French were blessed with an abundance of arable countryside, waiting to be farmed. Modern France has more than twice this many people. Germany, with a slightly less perfect climate and a lower percentage of arable land, averaged more like 90 people/sq. mile. Italy was similar (lots of hills and rocky areas). The British Isles were the least populous, with a little more than 40 people per square mile, most of them clustered in the southern half of the isles.

 

The "least populous" example above is 40 people /sq mi, so your 2.5 looks rather low.

 

 

Doug

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I think it would also depend on how much of that land as "explored" and/or settled (this is a fantasy setting after all). Sure the kingdom might be 370000 square miles large, but (without seeing a map) maybe a huge part of that is a "haunted forest" like Murkwood, and another part is an unexplored mountain range, and then there is the desert wastes where the Burrowing Scorpions keep everyone away, and so on. So maybe 2.5/mile is the "real" average PD for the entire nation, but once you take out all the places people don't live, inhabit, etc... the PD might rise in the areas that remain. For example, if 30% of the kingdom is unexplored/controlled by monsters then your average PD would rise up to 3.5.

 

That said, 3.5 still seems really, really low, just as a thought on it, in most agriculture based areas they have large families because it takes a lot of people to farm any area of land. 2.5 people wouldn't be able to farm a square mile of land. 1 square mile is 640 acres. At the very best on average I could possibly see 1 person being able to handle 7 acers of farming on their own (working 10 hours a day, 7 day a week) so farming a full 1 square mile of farm land would need about 90 people, which when looking at Doug's data show it to be pretty "spot on" with historical averages. 

 

Also cities could be surprisingly large in the past. Paris pre-1400 is thought to have had up to 250,000 people living in it (the black plague and wars eventually doped this down to 100,000+ people). London at about the same time had around 150,000

If your kingdom has almost 1,000,000 and at least one major city in it, that might account for 10% of your entire kingdom's population, with probably another 25% in the areas surrounding it to supply all the food needed for a city that large and the safety is provides. That means 35% of your kingdom's population lives in one small area of the major city, and the areas around it. The other 65% take up the rest of the Kingdom. So unless the kingdom has vast, uninhabited areas that seems like a very small population. 

 

For another real life example, the size of your kingdom seems to be roughly the size of Germany (Germany being a little bit smaller. Germany = 360,000 miles squared) and according to records Germany had a population around 9 million people between 1300-1400 AD. So a kingdom about he same size as yours had roughly 10 times the number of people in it. 

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8 hours ago, mallet said:

I think it would also depend on how much of that land as "explored" and/or settled (this is a fantasy setting after all). Sure the kingdom might be 370000 square miles large, but (without seeing a map) maybe a huge part of that is a "haunted forest" like Murkwood, and another part is an unexplored mountain range, and then there is the desert wastes where the Burrowing Scorpions keep everyone away, and so on. So maybe 2.5/mile is the "real" average PD for the entire nation, but once you take out all the places people don't live, inhabit, etc... the PD might rise in the areas that remain. For example, if 30% of the kingdom is unexplored/controlled by monsters then your average PD would rise up to 3.5.

 

That said, 3.5 still seems really, really low, just as a thought on it, in most agriculture based areas they have large families because it takes a lot of people to farm any area of land. 2.5 people wouldn't be able to farm a square mile of land. 1 square mile is 640 acres. At the very best on average I could possibly see 1 person being able to handle 7 acers of farming on their own (working 10 hours a day, 7 day a week) so farming a full 1 square mile of farm land would need about 90 people, which when looking at Doug's data show it to be pretty "spot on" with historical averages. 

 

Also cities could be surprisingly large in the past. Paris pre-1400 is thought to have had up to 250,000 people living in it (the black plague and wars eventually doped this down to 100,000+ people). London at about the same time had around 150,000

If your kingdom has almost 1,000,000 and at least one major city in it, that might account for 10% of your entire kingdom's population, with probably another 25% in the areas surrounding it to supply all the food needed for a city that large and the safety is provides. That means 35% of your kingdom's population lives in one small area of the major city, and the areas around it. The other 65% take up the rest of the Kingdom. So unless the kingdom has vast, uninhabited areas that seems like a very small population. 

 

For another real life example, the size of your kingdom seems to be roughly the size of Germany (Germany being a little bit smaller. Germany = 360,000 miles squared) and according to records Germany had a population around 9 million people between 1300-1400 AD. So a kingdom about he same size as yours had roughly 10 times the number of people in it. 

 

Thanks.  I will adjust the populations by a factor of 5.  I want some room to keep all those ruins and creepy woods!

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Sorry to necro the thread but I just looked at the maps and realized that the main map was using a faulty key for distance. A couple of interior maps were more consistent with each other and so I had to revise my calculations

Length 1200 mi (approx) E-W
Width 900 mi (approx) N-S

Total area Land and Lake 1080000 sq mi

Area of the lake/sea 600 by 150 Approx is 90000

Total land area available 1080000-90000= 900000 sq mi

Given a population listed as about 975000 people that is 1person per sq mi


Yeah time to go on a population boom!

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Just for fun, I looked up the population density of my own state in Australia. Queensland has a population density of 2.8/km2 (7.3/sq mi). Most of the population is concentrated in the south east corner, with most of the rest up the east coast.

That leaves a huge sparsely populated area in a modern, developed country.

 

Western Australia is even more sparsely populated: 1.0/km2 (2.6/sq mi)

 

While we're at it, Alaska is 1.26/sq mi (0.49/km2)

 

So very low population densities aren't incompatible with developed societies. (Insert Alaska joke here.) Obviously there will be more densely populated areas.

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True, but this is an area that has been settled for close to 4000 years.  Even if agriculture is at Roman Empire levels, given magic and the effect of gods/godesses on the area, and the fact that the area has been at relative peace for the last 200 years, oh and add that the entire area has a possibility to be cultivated (unlike Australia or Alaska, or even my home Canada), then the idea of 1 person / sq mi is... questionable.  Even Mongolia has a better density!

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4000 years is nothing special - even the Americas have been settled 3-4 times longer than that. Australia more than ten times longer.

 

The effects of magic and the gods can be whatever you want them to be. They can work in favour of a higher population density - or a lower one. Your choice.

 

But yes, a higher population density sounds likely.

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I accidentally erased a long post a few days ago and haven't had the heart to fully recreate it. But taking a half-hearted stab at it....

 

Population density of humans depends on a lot of factors including how efficient agriculture is and what food crops they have available, how recent the last epidemic was, and how often there are major wars.

 

And in fantasy worlds, how dense the population of non-humans is and how aggressive they are plus the population density of aggressive creatures which might want to snack on humans.

 

Out of those factors, war is probably the most important. It directly reduces the population while disrupting food production (which directly and indirectly reduces the population) plus displacing people so diseases spread more rapidly from one community to the next...and continue to spread rather then burning out (which directly reduces the population). The more recent the last war, the smaller the population in the warring kingdoms AND in the surrounding kingdoms (reduced food availability and refugees spreading disease).

 

In a typical fantasy setting, you aren't going to find a lot of lone pioneers out in the middle of nowhere with just himself and his family because it's much too dangerous. 

 

So the next question is how safe would it be to live in a small village of say 20-35 people? There could be a hell of a lot of villages of that size in the area you're talking about. But if that's too dangerous, there won't be any. 

 

The larger the town, the more amenities are available (tavern, temple, mill) but the more opportunities for disease and crime. And the larger the town, the fewer farmers per capita since farmers would have to walk out to their fields then return and there's only so far a person can walk and still put in a meaningful day of work.

 

So if tiny villages are plentiful and farmers turn out way more food than their own families can eat, towns and cities could be huge. But if you assume fewer but larger villages and relatively unproductive farms, cities would be smaller since there would be enough food available for import to maintain their population.

 

 

Personally I prefer GMing with large villages and small people per square mile. Lots of ruins ranging from abandoned small villages to more profitable ruins. Lots of monsters. Cities which are the size of a large modern town and no cities which are the size of a modern small city.

 

But I dislike GMing political intrigue campaigning and like the players being able to get their PC's out away from a lord if I screw up things and GM myself into a corner. :D 

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Well one of the LARGEST cities, and Capital of one of the regions has a population of .... 17000 people.  

 

It is about 350 by 400 = 140000 sq mi and has a total population of 170000 people which is 1.2 people / Sq mi.  

 

I could up the population (IN fact I will) by a factor of five and STILL have a lot of empty space!

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7 hours ago, Mr. R said:

Well one of the LARGEST cities, and Capital of one of the regions has a population of .... 17000 people.  

 

It is about 350 by 400 = 140000 sq mi and has a total population of 170000 people which is 1.2 people / Sq mi.  

 

I could up the population (IN fact I will) by a factor of five and STILL have a lot of empty space!

 

Then the only questions I'd be asking myself is if I didn't fill the space with an increased population, what would I put there? And would it be more interesting than people?

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11 hours ago, archer said:

 

Then the only questions I'd be asking myself is if I didn't fill the space with an increased population, what would I put there? And would it be more interesting than people?

 

True.  But 5/ sq mi will still leave a lot of empty space, but not make to populations so large as to strain credulity!  But that is JMHO!

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