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  • Population-total number of people occupying a given area.
  • Population distribution-the way people are spread out on the land.
  • Population densitynumber of persons per unit area= number of people in a given area/total area of the place=XP/km2.
  • Demography-study of statistical data on human populations.

Sources of Population Data

  • Primary sources– registration of births and deaths and censuses.
  • Secondary sources-census reports, textbooks, periodicals, etc.

Population Distribution in E. Africa

  • In 2005 was estimated to be 90m people spread out thus:
  • It’s spread out over an area of 1,768,267km2 resulting to a population density of 51 persons per km2.
  • The population is unevenly distributed whereby some places are densely populated e.g. large towns of Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala while others are sparsely populated e.g. N. and E Kenya, N.E. Uganda etc.

Factors Influencing Population Distribution in East Africa

Distribution of population on the earth’s surface isn’t uniform due to the following factors:


  • Areas with moderate temperatures and high rainfall have high population per unit area than those with extremely high or low temperatures and low unreliable rainfall because moderate temperatures give comfort to people and abundant rainfall favours growth of crops.


  • High altitude areas have low population because of extremely low temperatures which doesn’t support growth of crops to ensure food sufficiency.
  • Plains and gently sloping areas have higher population than steep areas due to fertile soils, ease to erect buildings and construction of transport infrastructure.


  • Dense forests are sparsely populated because they are habitat to wild animals and it’s difficult to develop transport and communication infrastructure and some are tsetse fly infested e.g. Miombo Woodland in Tanzania.
  • Grasslands have high population if rainfall is favourable because they are easy to clear and relatively level or gently sloping.


  • Areas with fertile soils and reliable rainfall have high population because they are agriculturally productive while those with poor soils e.g. savannah with leached soils have low population since they are agriculturally unproductive.


  • Well drained areas have high population than swampy areas because they support settlement and farming.
  • Areas which are swampy have less population because it’s difficult to construct buildings, carry out agriculture and also mosquito infested.

Pests and Diseases

  • Areas infested with mosquito and tsetse flies have low population because those pests transmit malaria and sleeping sickness and Nagana to livestock.
  • Disease epidemics cause low population in areas affected as was the case in S.W. Uganda as a result of HIV and Aids which left the area almost deserted.

Historical Factors

  • Slave trade left some parts of W. Africa with low population as people were captured and sold as slaves in America, W. Indies and Arab world. While others run away to avoid being captured.
  • Colonisation caused people to be driven from their homes in to reserves to create room for white farmers e.g. in parts of Kenyan Highlands which caused low population in indigenous people’s farms while the population in reserves kept on increasing.

Tribal Conflicts

  • Areas with tribal conflicts are sparsely populated because people move away from there to seek safety e.g. Molo.

Economic Factors

  • Towns and areas with mining activities have high population as people go to seek for jobs e.g. Nairobi, L. Magadi due to trona mining.

Political Factors
  • Political unrest may cause people to move from their home area leaving it sparsely populated e.g. Uganda during the reign of Iddi Amin and S. Sudan.

Government Policy

  • Government programmes such as construction of dams and mining may require removal of people from certain areas causing them to be sparsely populated while the population in areas of destination increases.

Factors Influencing Population Growth

  • Population growth is the change that occurs in the number of people in a population over a given period of time.
  • Population may grow positively by number of people increasing in a population or negatively by having a decrease in the number of people.
  • The main factors influencing population growth are fertility, mortality and migration.


  • Fertility-number of live births a woman has during her reproductive period.
  • Fecundity-ability of a woman to conceive and give birth to a child regardless whether alive or still born.
  • Infecundity/Sterility-inability of a woman to conceive and give birth to a child regardless whether alive or still born.
  • Primary Infertility-involuntary childlessness.
  • Involuntary Secondary Infertility-involuntary childlessness caused by a second factor e.g. when a woman has had a child/children and is unable to have more due to health factors.
  • Voluntary Secondary Infertility-voluntary childlessness where a woman who has had a child/children decides not to have any more e.g. by using contraception methods.
  • Fertility Rate- average number of children that a woman of child bearing age (15-49 years) will have in her lifetime.
  • High fertility rate leads to high population growth while low fertility rates lead to slow or negative population growth.
  • Population
    Growth-increase or decrease in the number of people.
    • Natural Population Growth

      Natural increase or decrease in population.

      It’s calculated using Crude Birth Rate/estimated rate of births in a population (CBR) and Crude Death Rate/estimated rate of deaths in a population (CDR).

      CBR=total number of births in a year ×1000/total population estimated at mid year=X births/1000population.

      CDR=total number of deaths in a year×1000/total population estimated at mid-year=X deaths/1000population.


      For instance, in 1999 the CBR in Kenya was 41.3 while CDR was 11.7. Therefore the population growth was (41.3-11.7) ×100/1000=29.6%.

    • Numerical population Growth

      Actual or absolute increase in the number of people in an area within a given period of time.

      =inter-censal increase×100/total population in the former census

      For instance pop in 1989 was 2000 and in 1999 was 2500. Inter-censal increase was 500


Causes of High Fertility Rate in Kenya

Cultural Beliefs

  1. Early marriage of women which lengthens their fertile duration.
  2. Belief in large families as a source of prestige e.g. children are a source of labour and girls are a source of dowry.
  3. Polygamy which causes competition between wives leading to large number of births per woman.
  4. Sex preference when there is a high regard for a birth of a son/heir to ensure continuity of the family status which causes couples who are bearing girls to continue bearing girls until they get a boy.
  5. Naming of relatives whereby couples will continue to get children until they finish naming relatives of both sides e.g. fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, etc.

Other Factors

  1. modernisation which leads to decline in social values leading to free interaction of young girls and men causing girls to become mothers at tender age.
  2. Availability of enough and better food ensuring people are healthy and live longer and are able to bear more children as they are able to feed them.
  3. Availability of health services for both mother and child which provide prenatal and post natal care.

Factors Which Have Caused Low Fertility Rates in Kenya/Slow population Growth

  1. Economic considerations where modern families prefer fewer children because it has become expensive to bring up a child.
  2. Increased use of birth control measures.
  3. More girls are attending school so they don’t get married early.
  4. Education making women to opt to remain single as they get employed and no longer look to marriage as a source of financial security.
  5. Modern career opportunities which have a limiting influence on the women’s fertility rate as most employees don’t want women who keep on going on maternity leave.


Mortality refers to deaths among members of a population.

  • It reduces the population in a given area
  • It also affects its structure or composition of the population in terms of age and sex whereby if there is consistent death of a particular age or sex there will be marked change in the population because the other ages or sex will be more than the affected ones.

Causes of Mortality/ More Factors Which Cause Slow Population Growth

  1. Low nutritional standards which cause deficiency diseases reducing body’s ability to fight diseases which may kill many children below 5 years.
  2. Low hygiene standards which may cause diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera which kill young and old members of the population.
  3. Prevalence of natural calamities e.g. droughts, floods and earthquakes which also leads to deaths of many.
  4. Epidemics and disease outbreaks such as HIV/AIDS which has eliminated large numbers of people in communities where wife inheritance is practised and as was the case in S.W. Uganda.
  5. Human made calamities such as outbreaks of war and high crime rates which reduce population.
  6. Emigration i.e. movement of people from their country especially the youth to settle else where which reduces population at the area of origin.

Causes of Decline in Death Rates in Countries

  1. Immunisation of infants which has reduced infant mortality rate.
  2. High nutritional standards which have reduced incidents of deficiency diseases which kill children aged between 1-5 years.
  3. Improved hygienic standards which have reduced incidents of diarrhoeal diseases which used to kill many people.
  4. Advanced medical facilities which have ensured availability of drugs for some diseases which had no drugs which enables people to live longer.


-Movement of people from one place of residence to another.

It causes reduction of population in the place of origin and increase of population in the area of destination.

Emigrants-people who move out of a place.

Immigrants-people who move out of a place.

Causes of Migration

Push Factors

-Problems or circumstances which force out a person from his/her area of residence.

  1. Pressure on land due to increase in population which cause people to move to other areas where land is available e.g. from C. Kenya to R. Valley.
  2. Land becoming too poor to support crops which cause people to move to other areas where fertile land is available.
  3. Unemployment and underemployment which cause people to move to other areas to seek jobs or better paying ones.
  4. Insecurity such as tribal clashes and terror gangs which cause people to other safer places.
  5. Persecution of specific religious groups due to their faith which causes them to move to areas where they can practise their faith freely e.g. Jews from Europe to Israel.
  6. Political persecution e.g. many Ugandans moved to neighbouring countries during the reign of Iddi Amin.
  7. Occurrence of natural calamities such as diseases, floods and severe droughts forcing people out of their place of residence e.g. in monsoon Asia.
  8. Government policy where people are moved from one area to give room for development e.g. H.E.P. projects and mining such as of titanium at Kwale.

Pull Factors

-Positive conditions which attract a person to a new place.

  1. Attraction of urban life where there is electricity, piped water, entertainment and social amenities.
  2. Availability of employment such as in urban areas where there are many industries and businesses or in rural areas with estates and plantations.
  3. Opportunities for better education e.g. in urban areas with many education institutions.
  4. Security
  5. Plenty of land
  6. fertile land
  7. Higher standard of living e.g. in urban areas

Types of Migration

2 basic types namely:

Internal migration

Migration within a country.

Types of Internal Migration

Rural to urban Migration

-Movement of people from rural areas to urban areas.

It involves:

  1. Youth who have completed various levels of education moving to urban areas to seek employment in while collar jobs.
  2. People moving to urban areas in search of alternative ways of earning a living due to shortage of land in rural areas, unemployment and low prices for agricultural produce.
  3. Traders relocating to urban areas where there is a larger market as the people in rural areas have low purchasing power.
  4. People moving to urban areas where there is adequate social amenities such as hospitals, entertainment, electricity and generally exciting life.
  5. Youth seeking for further education who join universities and colleges many of which are located in urban areas.
  6. Transfer of people employed in rural areas to urban areas.

Rural to Rural Migration

-Movement of people from one rural area to another.

It involves:

  1. People moving to plantations and other large farms seeking employment e.g. tea pickers in Kericho from Kisii rural parts.
  2. Movement of nomadic pastoralists from one place to another in search of water and pasture.
  3. People moving to other parts of the country to buy land and settle there.
  4. Movement of people into settlement schemes e.g. Mwea, Nyandarua etc. to ease pressure on land.
  5. Movement of public and private employees on transfer from one rural area to another.

Urban to Rural Migration

-Movement of people from urban areas to rural areas.

It involves:

  1. Transfer of people employed in urban areas to rural areas.
  2. Movement of people from urban areas to search for jobs in rural areas.
  3. People moving from urban areas to rural areas to settle permanently after retirement.
  4. People moving away from stressful urban life to suburbs to be commuting daily to work.

Urban to Urban Migration

-Movement of people from one urban area to another or from one part of urban area to another.

It involves:

  • Employed persons who are transferred from one town to another.
  • people moving from one part of town to another due to:
    • transfer
    • in search of affordable housing
    • in search of better employment
    • in search of better business opportunity

External Migration

-Movement of people from one country to another.


It involves:

  1. People who seek employment abroad for a short period who end up settling permanently.
  2. Refugees who are forced out of their country by factors such as war.
  3. People seeking political asylum due to political persecution in their country.
  4. Government employees such as ambassadors who are in assignment abroad.

Effects of Migration

At the Place of Origin

Positive Effects

  1. Improved agricultural production in rural areas when people move out creating more room for cultivation.
  2. Increase in purchasing power in rural areas when migrants remit money back home.
  3. Relief to a country which is faced with unemployment when people get employed outside the country.

Negative Effects

  1. Lowering agricultural production when able bodied people go to town leaving the women, elderly and children who are unable to manage farms effectively.
  2. Underemployment in rural areas due to lowered agricultural productivity.
  3. Break up of families and lowering of social morals since majority of migrants are men which causes imbalance of female-male ratio.
  4. Lowering of population density in the area of origin.
  5. Lowering or fertility due to long separation between a man and wife.
  6. Lower rate of industrialisation due to transfer of skilled man power to other countries (brain drain).

Place of Destination

Positive Effects

  1. There is a gain in population.
  2. Development if the migrants are involved in gainful employment which results into increased production.
  3. Contributes to national peace when people from different parts of the country settle together.

Negative Effects

  1. Social evils such as crime, prostitution and drug peddling when people fail to secure employment.
  2. Shortage of housing and high house rents leading to growth and expansion of slums.
  3. Shortage of social amenities such as schools, hospitals, water and transport.

On the Individual

Positive Effects

  1. Improved living standard of the worker resulting from savings made from income gained after employment.
  2. Acquisition of skills and change in attitude due to exposure which may cause some town dwellers to change their way of life and become more sophisticated.

Negative Effects

  1. Lower fertility rates when some people who have migrated to towns take long time before marrying as they try to achieve various goals in their lives.
  2. Immorality may arise may arise when urban migrants lose touch with their cultural values.
  3. Marriage breakages may occur when spouses are separated for long periods of time.

Demographic/Population Trends

  • Various positive or negative changes (transition) which take place in the population of a given society, country or the world and their impact on social economic environment.
  • Demographic transition refers to the historical change in birth and death rates from high to low which causes population increase.

Demographic Transition Theory

-A theory compounded to explain this phenomenon.

There are 4 demographic transition phases namely:

Stage/phase 1

  • High birth rate and high death rate due to inadequate food supply, wars, diseases and insufficient medical facilities.
  • Little or no increase in population
  • Was experienced in Europe before 19th Century.

Stage 2

  • High birth rate and a decline in death rate due to improved food supplies and medical facilities.
  • High population growth rate
  • Was experienced by European countries in the 19th Century during industrial revolution.
  • Kenya is in this stage.

Stage 3

Relatively low death rates and declining birth rate due family realisation of the need to have small families due to pressure exerted on economic resources and social facilities, level of education attainment leading to use of birth control measures.

Moderate population growth rate.

Stage 4

  • Low birth and death rates.
  • Low population growth rate.
  • The population becomes static and can only reproduce to replace the dying ones (population replacement level).
  • It’s experienced in industrialised countries like Germany and Sweden where death rate is falling below death rate.

Population Structure

Composition of a given population in terms of age and sex.

The information on population structure is obtained in a census and presented using an age sex pyramid.

Characteristics of an Age Sex Pyramid

  • Vertical axis represents age ranges
  • Horizontal axis represents percentage of total population
  • Right hand side represents females proportion
  • Left hand side represents males proportion

Population Structure of a Developed Country

  • It’s broad at the base due to factors contributing to high fertility rates already discussed.
  • Hollows for ages 5-9 due to high mortality rate.
  • Thins towards the top due to the low life expectancy (average number of years a person is expected to live) as few people survive to 70 years.
  • Tapers towards the top due to relatively high death rates throughout age groups.

Population Structure of a Developed Country

  • Narrow at the base due to low birth rates causing low population of children and young people.
  • Broadens towards the top due to high life expectancy leading to a high population of old people (ageing population).
  • Broadens towards the top which is an indication of low mortality rate throughout age groups.

Significance of Population Structure

  • For planning by enabling the government to know the percentage of available funds to allocate for various sectors e.g. if most of the people in the population are youth it will allocate more funds for education and health services and if most are elderly more funds will be allocated for health and social welfare.
  • For calculation of dependency ratio (proportion of population which isn’t involved in production activities to the one that is.

DR=children <15+old people/working population (15-64)

  • High dependency ratio means the population is strained since population will devote most of its resources to consumption instead of investment.
  • For calculation of sex ratio (number of males per 100 females.
    • If greater than 100 it means there are a greater number of males than females which is typical in urban areas.
    • Small sex ratio results in male deficiency which affects fertility which is typical in urban areas.

Consequence of Population Structure

  1. Strain on budget due to developing countries having a large population of young people whose health and education cost is high and developing countries having a large proportion of old people whose cost of health and social welfare is high.
  2. Low quality of education and health care in developing countries due high population leading to the high cost of those services.
  3. Better quality of health and education in developing countries due low population.
  4. Strain on working population in developing countries since most of the money is consumed leaving less for investment. Large population of old people does the same in developing countries.
  5. Boost in food production when there is a large proportion of males due to the availability of a large labour force.
  6. Heavy taxation of the working population when the dependency of young and old is high in order to avail funds for provision of social amenities.
  7. Large number of females than males leads to low birth rates and consequently slow growth of population.
  8. Increase in promiscuity when there are a large number of females than males.

Consequences of Population Growth

Overpopulation (Positive Population Increase)

Positive Effects

  1. A large population provides cheap labour due to a large number of people competing for jobs.
  2. Increased exploitation of natural resources and industrial development due to increased demand for goods and services causing those activities to be increased to meet the demand.
  3. Technological innovation due to pressing needs associated with a high population (necessity is the mother of invention).

    Negative Effects

  4. Pressure on land leading to land fragmentation.
  5. Environmental degradation when people clear forests to make room for settlement and agriculture.
  6. Low investment and slow growth of industry as the government spends a lot of money on education and medical facilities leaving less for investment.
  7. Lowering GDP (aggregate value of goods and services that a country can produce) due to inability to save any money for investment.
  8. High rate of unemployment due to employment sector growing at a slower rate than population growth.
  9. Towns face problems of water shortage, pressure on social amenities and high cost of housing leading to development of informal settlements such as slums which expand covering agricultural land surrounding the towns.

Under population (Negative/Slow Population Growth)

-This is the case in developed countries.

  1. High government spending on health and social welfare as the population consists of a high proportion of old people due top low birth rates and low death rates.
  2. High cost of production since there is a small work force consisting of skilled people whose wages are high.
  3. Underutilisation of resources such as agriculture and mineral resources since there is shortage of labour due to sparse population and most of it being concentrated in urban areas.
  4. Inadequate market for goods and services due to a small population.
  5. Underdevelopment and low living standards in rural areas since a large percentage of people live in urban areas.
  6. Traffic congestion and atmospheric and noise pollution in urban areas due to continuous expansion of towns.
  7. Reduced food production as towns expand and engulf surrounding agricultural land.

Related Studies on Population in Kenya and Denmark


  • One of the Scandinavian countries which also include Norway, Finland and Denmark.
  • It’s located in the N. Europe.
  • It’s in the 4th stage of the population transition trend. The birth and death rates are equal i.e. replacement level.
  • Natural and numerical population growth is 0.5%.

Factors Which Have Contributed To Slow Population Growth in Sweden

  1. Improvement of medical facilities.
  2. People have become more affluent and urbanised causing a tendency to have fewer children so as to maintain a high standard of living.
  3. Population has embraced birth control measures and as a result contraceptives are widely used.
  4. Move towards small families in response to economic realities.
  5. High rate of separation leading to low fertility rate and consequently low birth rates.
  6. Population is highly literate and understands the need for controlling population growth.
  7. Low death rates reducing the need to bear more children.

Factors Influencing Population Distribution in Sweden

  1. A large proportion of the country is mountainous whose cultivation isn’t easy due to steepness, stony soils and permafrost causing 60% of population to be found in the southern part (Skane) where there is fertile soils and warmth which favours cultivation.
  2. Chilly climate with cold winters especially in the northern lands (Norrland) which are not inhabited at all once again causing population to be concentrated in the south.
  3. Sweden is a forested country and areas under forests are more settles because they are more ideal for cultivation unlike plains which are permafrost.
  4. Lakes and rivers cover almost ½ of the country and the area with water bodies aren’t settled which causes the population to be scattered.
  5. Mining centres such as Grangesbery and Fennimore form islands of high population while the immediate neighbourhoods have high population.
  6. The largest number of people lives in urban areas the major one being Stockholm and villages forming nucleated and clustered type of settlement.

Comparison between Population Trends in Kenya and Sweden


Both countries have uneven distribution of population dictated by factors such as relief, climate and presence of economic activities.

Both countries have low mortality due to improved medical care.

In both countries population density in urban areas is high.

In both countries there is use of family planning methods in effort to control population growth.

Both countries have parts which aren’t inhabited at all e.g. in the north of Sweden and Chalbi desert in Kenya.

In both countries there is high population in areas with mining activities e.g. Grangesbery in Sweden and Magadi in Kenya.

In both countries population distribution is influenced by drainage where areas with water bodies aren’t settled.


  • Kenya has a birth rate of 3.2% leading to high population growth while Sweden has 0.5%leading to slow growth rate.
  • Kenya has a population density of 36 persons per square km while Sweden has a population density of 19 P/km2.
  • Kenya has a larger population than Sweden.
  • Kenya has a large population of young people and a small proportion of old people while Sweden has a large population of old people and a small proportion of young people.
  • Kenya has relatively high death rates throughout age groups while Sweden has low.
  • Population distribution in Sweden is very uneven compared to Kenya’s.
  • In Sweden most of the population is found in urban areas while in Kenya most of it is found in rural areas.
  • Kenya has a high dependency ratio compared to Kenya.
  • Kenya has a low life expectancy (50 years) than Sweden (70 years).
  • The main factor contributing to population growth in Kenya is high birth rate while in Sweden it is Migration.
  • Kenya has high population density while Sweden has low.






















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EcoleBooks | Geography Form 4 Notes : POPULATION


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