Population Density - The Correct Answer

(re: Marilyn Vos Savant's Miscalculation)
The correct answer is 287,406 sq. feet of land per individual (not 536!). As Marilyn Vos Savant stated in her column (Nov. 26, 1996) there are 97 people per square mile. A square mile has 27,878,400 sq. feet (5280 X 5280). I think her miscalculation resulted from the fact that a square measuring 536 feet on each side nearly equals the figure mentioned. But that is a pretty spacious area, four average city blocks.* If Seattle, with its 88 square miles, were that thinly populated, it would have only 8536 people (instead of 531,400). I lived two years in a neighborhood of Seattle which was actually more densely populated than Hong Kong. It was a pleasant neighborhood, relatively crime free and folks payed plenty to live there. I invite you to take a look at an article which describes dramatically the relative emptiness of the earth.

*Another way of imagining this (especially if you are from Seattle) is to picture the inside of the Kingdome. Its area is about 342,000 square feet. On May 14, 1976, it accomodated over 74 thousand people for the Billy Graham crusade. There was still enough free space for hundreds to walk down for the altar call. At that density we could fit the entire population of the world into the western half of King County. (You can do the math yourself: King County has 2,134 square miles. There are around 6 billion people on the planet.) King County has less than one twenty-seventh thousandth of the world's land area.

More on Marilyn's Miscalculation.

Back to Are We Overpopulated?