POPULATION DENSITY refers to the number of people living in an area per square km.

In East Africa, some places have got high population density while others have got low population density.

Causes of high population density (why some areas have high population e.g. Shores of Lake Victoria, Kabale, Mbale and along the coast)

  • prefer living in areas with milder temperatures and more predictable weather patterns. For example, areas with warm climates and abundant sunshine, such as coastal regions, may have a higher population density than colder, more mountainous regions. Additionally, areas with reliable rainfall and fertile soil can also have a higher population density as it can be a good condition for agriculture. People tend to move to areas with a climate that is comfortable for them and that can support their way of life, whether it be farming, tourism, or other industries.
  • The presence of deep and well-drained fertile soils that support farming also attract a large number of people e.g. Kabale and Mbale.

  • Availability of abundant supply water for both domestic and commercial use e.g. Kampala and Nairobi.
  • Presence of many industries that attract a large labour force e.g. in Jinja and Dar-es-salaam.
  • Availability of a variety of minerals such as Diamonds in Shinyanga and limestone in Tororo.
  • Urbanization attracts many migrants into large cities for social amenities e.g. in Dodoma, Kampala, and Mombasa. This can lead to high population density in urban areas because as more people move to cities, the population in those cities increases. Urbanization can be driven by a number of factors, such as economic opportunities, access to amenities, and political stability. Urban areas often have more job opportunities, higher wages, and better access to education and healthcare than rural areas. Urban areas also tend to have more diverse cultures and social opportunities, which can attract people to move there. Urbanization can also be driven by government policies that encourage or facilitate the growth of cities. Urbanization can also be driven by the increase of the service sector and the technological advancements that made possible to do remote works.
  • Easy accessibility due to well-developed transport and communication net work for easy movement. This is because good transportation infrastructure, such as roads, public transportation systems, and airports, makes it easier for people to move around and access job opportunities, amenities, and other resources. This can attract more people to live in the area, increasing the population density. Additionally, good transportation infrastructure can also make it easier for goods and services to be transported in and out of an area, which can further boost economic development and attract more people to live there.

  • Availability of a relatively flat landscape makes settlement and development of infrastructures relatively easy hence attracting large settlements.
  • Migrations patterns: High population densities can also result from migrations patterns, as people move to different areas in search of better economic opportunities or other factors.
  • Political stability: Regions with political stability tend to have higher population densities as people feel more secure in these areas.
  • Cultural and historical significance: Places with cultural or historical significance may attract more people and have higher population densities.
  • Limited resources: In areas with limited resources, such as small islands, population density may be high due to the need to make efficient use of land and other resources.


POPULATION DENSITY refers to the number of people living in an area per square km.

In East Africa, some placeslike Nairobi, Kilimanjaro region and around lake Victoria have got high population density while other places like dodoma and rukwa regions in Tanzania and northern part of Kenya have got low population density

Causes of low population density (why some areas have low population e.g. Karamoja, Ankole-Masaka corridor, Masai land and Turkana land)

  • Low and unreliable rainfall that cannot favour agriculture e.g. the desert region of Chalbi in northern Kenya. Rainfall influence agriculture by providing water for crops therefore area that have low and unreliable rainfall have few people per square kilometre as compared to areas with heavy and reliable rainfall
  • Hot temperatures of 300C and above that make it impossible for many people to live in such areas e.g. in Karamoja. Areas with high temperature does not attract people to live there while the areas with moderate temperature attract settlement. Therefore areas with high temperature such as karamoja and northern part of Kenya have low population density as compared to areas with moderate temperature such as areas around mount Kenya.
  • Absence of surface water that is essential for human life e.g. in Masai land.

  • Poor quality soils that can’t support agriculture tend to scare away settlements e.g. Miombo woodlands.
  • Pests and diseases such as tsetse flies and mosquitoes in some parts of central Tanzania scare away man due to fear of losing his life.
  • The remoteness of the area hinders accessibility due to poor transport and communication lines.
  • Limited economic activities mean that jobs are not existent.
  • Limited social services scare away people.


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