Population is defined as the number of people living in an area at a particular time. The population of West Africa is not evenly distributed. Some areas are densely populated, some are moderately populated and others are sparsely populated.
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AREAS OF DENSE POPULATION: These include Lagos, Kano, Accra, Abidjan, Freetown, Monrovia, Dakar, etc.
AREAS OF MODERATE POPULATION: These include Benin, Ashanti Region, Mano River area, Ouagadougou, Niamey, Bamako, etc.
AREAS OF SPARSE POPULATION: These include upper Gambia, Middle belt of Nigeria, Northern Niger, Mali and Mauritania.
REASONS / FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE POPULATION DISTRIBUTION OF WEST AFRICA
The population distribution in West Africa is influenced by various factors and historical, geographical, social, and economic dynamics. Here are some key reasons and factors that contribute to the population distribution in the region:
1. Geographic Features: The distribution of population in West Africa is influenced by geographic factors such as proximity to coastlines, river systems, and fertile land. Coastal areas, like the Gulf of Guinea, tend to have higher population densities due to favorable conditions for trade, fishing, and access to ports. River valleys, such as the Niger and Senegal Rivers, also attract settlements and agriculture, contributing to population concentrations.
2. Historical Settlement Patterns: Historical factors, including migration patterns and the establishment of early civilizations, have influenced population distribution. Ancient empires and trade routes, such as the Mali Empire and trans-Saharan trade, influenced the location of settlements and population centers. Additionally, the impacts of colonialism and the development of colonial infrastructure, such as ports, railways, and administrative centers, have influenced population concentrations in certain areas.
3. Economic Opportunities: Economic factors play a significant role in population distribution. Areas with abundant natural resources, such as oil, minerals, and agricultural land, tend to attract populations seeking employment and economic opportunities. Urban centers and industrial hubs, including major cities like Lagos, Accra, and Abidjan, provide employment prospects and services, drawing people from rural areas to urban centers.
4. Agricultural Potential: The distribution of population in West Africa is closely linked to agricultural potential. Regions with fertile soils, suitable climate, and access to water sources are more likely to have higher population densities as they support agriculture and food production. Areas with favorable conditions for cash crops like cocoa, coffee, and cotton often attract settlement and contribute to population concentration.
5. Infrastructure and Services: Availability and quality of infrastructure and services influence population distribution. Regions with well-developed transportation networks, access to education, healthcare facilities, and other amenities tend to have higher population densities. Investment in infrastructure, such as roads, ports, and electricity, can spur population growth and economic activities in specific areas.
6. Political and Social Factors: Political stability, governance, and social factors also impact population distribution. Areas with stable governance, good governance practices, and peaceful environments tend to attract settlement and foster economic growth. Additionally, cultural and ethnic dynamics, including social ties and networks, influence patterns of migration and settlement within the region.
It is important to note that population distribution is a complex and dynamic process influenced by multiple factors. Over time, changes in economic conditions, urbanization trends, environmental factors, and government policies can alter population patterns and distribution in West Africa.
REASON FOR HIGH POPULATION DENSITIES
1) Favourable climate 2) Fertile soil
3) Natural attachment / Historical factors 4) Administrative Headquarters
5) Employment Opportunities 6) Presence of minerals
7) Presence of industries 8) Presence of basic social amenities
9) Commercial activities 10) Migration
ADVANTAGES OF HIGH POPULATION DENSITY
1) Large labour 2) Large market
3) Government attraction 4) Togetherness
5) Quick dissemination of information 6) Defence
DISADVANTAGES OF HIGH POPULATION DENSITY
1) Pressure on natural resources 2) Pressure on basic amenities
3) Insufficient food 4) Unemployment / Under-employment
5) Traffic congesting 6) Environmental pollution
7) Inadequate health services 8) Inadequate housing
REASONS FOR LOW POPULATION DENSITY
1) Rugged relief 2) Poor drainage
3) Unfavourable climate 4) Poor soils
5) Historical factors 6) Presence of some insects
7) Inaccessibility 8) Low economic activities
ADVANTAGES OF LOW POPULATION DENSITY
1) Abundant resources 2) Low crime
3) Adequate planning 4) Regular flow of traffic
5) Low pressure on social amenities 6) High standard of living
DISADVANTAGES OF LOW POPULATION DENSITY
1) Wastage of output 2) Deterioration of infrastructure
3) Inadequate labour force 4) Low output
GENERAL EVALUATION QUESTIONS
- Describe optimum population.
- What is birth rate?
- Explain three of the population concepts.
- Describe the population pattern of Nigeria.
- How can the problem of increasing population be solved?
1) Define population.
2) List four factors responsible for high population density in Accra.