Factors influencing population distribution in East Africa
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Areas that receive heavy and reliable rainfall which support the growth of crops have attracted people in large numbers e.g. shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya highlands, slopes of Mt. Elgon and Kigezi highlands while areas that receive low and unreliable rainfall attract very few people e.g. Karamoja, Turkana land and Miombo woodlands.


areas with deep and well-drained fertile soils that support agriculture have attracted dense settlements e.g. Mbale, Kabale, shores of Lake Victoria while areas with infertile soils have sparse populations e.g. Nyika plains, North Eastern Kenya and Masai land.


areas with very high altitudes e.g. top of Mt. Elgon and Rwenzori, Bundibugyo have a sparse population because of the high pressure, difficulty in constructing houses and roads.

However low altitude areas have attracted large settlements due to ease in constructing settlements and roads.

However, areas in broad valleys occupied by swamps have sparse populations due to the presence of disease vectors like mosquitoes.

Also, lowland areas are subjected to floods and therefore are always avoided.


dense forests, bushland, and swamps are unfavorable areas for settlement because it’s hard and expensive to clear the vegetation.

They also habour wild animals and disease-carrying vectors like tsetse flies which scare away settlements.

Areas with savannah vegetation are easy to clear for agriculture and settlement hence attracting dense populations e.g. Masaka, Mpigi, and Mukono.

Natural water resources

The existence of natural water resources can attract dense populations e.g. shores of Lake Kyoga and Victoria.

Also, in areas of low rainfall, many people are attracted near watercourses or rivers e.g. along rivers Athi, Nile because the dense population utilizes the rivers for small-scale irrigation, livestock rearing and domestic use.

However, areas without surface water bodies have scared away settlements leading to sparse population e.g. in Karamoja and Turkana land.


Poorly drained areas e.g. coastal margins of Kenya and Tanzania are full of mangrove swamps which are unproductive in terms of agriculture, therefore leading to sparse population while areas which are well drained have high population densities like central Uganda, slopes of Mt. Kenya and Elgon.

Economic Activities

Areas that have activities like mining, trading, and manufacturing industries especially towns likeDar-es-salaam, Nairobi, Kisumu, Kampala, Jinja attract a large population than areas where they are few economic activities e.g. Karamoja.

This is because people are more attracted to areas that have enough job opportunities than areas with fewer employment opportunities.

Government policy

The government may determine settlement in an area e.g. the creation of the national park and game reserves discourage settlement e.g. Kidepo valley game park and on another hand, the setting up of resettlement schemes and refugee camps have attracted settlement in large numbers e.g. in Kiryandongo and Internally Displaced Peoples’ (I.D.P) camps in Gulu.

Political stability

Areas that are unstable and insecure have got low populations e.g. Karamoja where there is a lot of cattle rustling compared to areas that are generally politically stable and secure hence attracting dense settlements e.g. towns like Kampala and Mombasa.


some areas have got low population density because of their culture e.g. Ankole, Karamoja, Masai land areas are sparsely populated because of their practice of nomadic pastoralism which keeps them on the move always.

Within central Uganda, dense settlements exist because of the settled ways of life that encourage family development e.g. in Mukono and Wakiso districts.


Densely populated areas of the world

These are found in the agricultural east and industrial west and include the following parts:

Industrial North west Europe

This is where you can find the most industrialized countries like UK, Germany, France and Denmark.

This area has been the center of civilization

It lies within the temperature zone which has warm summers and mild winters

It has good natural vegetation which supports lumbering

It is also the home for the industrial revolution

It has a long indented coastline which gives great opportunity for sea transport

It has mineral resources which attract people to go and work in the mines.

Industrial North East USA

It is the industrial belt of the USA and Canada

It stretches from the great lakes through Pittsburgh to New York

This area is also rich in minerals and has a good network of transport.

Agricultural Monsoon Asia

It includes countries like China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Indonesia

The area has fertile soils which attract a lot of people

It has plenty of water used by peasant farmers for irrigation.

Moderately populated areas

It covers large areas of the cool temperate forests because these are lumbering areas.

It also include the coniferous forests of Canada

This also includes the temperate and tropical grasslands where pastoralism and large scale mechanized farming are common.

Sparsely populated areas

They include areas like the cold polar lands of the Arctic and Antarctic, the Canadian and Eurasian Tundra, Greenland, and the high mountains of the Himalayas,



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