Immigration is a popular and political hot potato in the UK. Critics often point to over-population – that the UK is full – as justification to impose limits. The numbers, however, do not support such a statement (nor does a flight over the country, but that’s another matter).
The UK has on average 255 people per square kilometre. There are fifty-two other counties or territories with a greater population density. The leader is the city-state Macau with 18,534 people per km2.
In Europe, there are nine other counties or territories with a greater population density: Monaco (16,923); Gibraltar (4,559); Vatican (1,877); Malta (1,318); Guernsey (843); Jersey (797); San Marino (505); Netherlands (402); & Belgium (355).
Some UK cities are certainly well populated. Greater London (4,933) and Glasgow (3,298) for example. There are however large swathes of England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland which have plenty of room, such as: Herefordshire (82); Cumbria (73); Northumberland (62); Gwynedd (46); Strabane (45); Ceredigion (44); Omagh (44); Stirling (40); Moray (39); Aberdeenshire (38); Moyle (34); Fermanagh (32); Perth and Kinross (27). Then there vastly under populated areas, such as: Powys (25); Scottish Borders (24); Dumfries and Galloway (23); Orkney Islands (20); Shetland Islands (15); Argyll and Bute (13); Highlands (9); The Outer Hebrides (8).
For context, the world average is about 47 people per km2. This figure includes the near vacant continent Antarctica.
The land-area of counties and administrative districts in the UK that come under the world average is: 72,851 km2. That’s about the size of Ireland or the Czech Republic.
This means that nearly a third (30%) of the 242,900 km2 in the UK is populated less than the world average.
The UK is no where near the fullest country or territory in the world, although it is one of the busier countries in Europe. While many parts of the UK (cities and England for example) are well over the world population density average – large parts remain well under average. In fact, various estimates say that only five-to-ten percent of the country is built on.
Over-population should not be used as an excuse to restrict immigration. Should limits need to be imposed – they should be for valid reasons.
Numbers crunched from: