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Is Africa Overpopulated?

Is Africa overpopulated? The answer by most measures is no. As of mid-2015, the continent as a whole had only 40 people per square mile. Asia, by comparison had 142 people per square mile; Northern Europe had 60. Critics also point to the how many less resources Africa"s population consumes versus that of many Western countries and the United States in particular. Why then are so many organizations and governments worried about Africa"s growing population?

As with so many things, one of the problems with discussions about Africa’s population problems is that people are citing facts about an incredibly diverse continent.  A 2010 study showed that 90% of Africa’s population was concentrated on 21% of the land. Much of that 90% is living in crowded urban cities and densely populated countries, like Rwanda, which has a population density of 471 people per square mile. The island countries of Mauritius and Mayotte are much higher than that with 627 and 640 respectively.

This means that the other 10% of Africa’s population is spread across the remaining 79% of Africa’s land mass. Of course, not all of that 79% is suitable or desirable for habitation. The Sahara, for instance, covers millions of acres, and the lack of water and extreme temperatures makes the vast majority of it uninhabitable, which is part of why Western Sahara has 2 people per square mile, and Libya and Mauritania have 4 people per square mile.

In the southern part of the continent, Namibia and Botswana, which share the Kalahari desert, also have extremely low populations for their area.

Even a low population might constitute overpopulation in a desert environment with scarce resources, but many of the people in Africa who are in ares of low population live in more moderate environments.

These are the rural farmers, and their population density is very low as well. When the Zika virus spread rapidly across South America and was linked to severe birth defects, many asked why the same effects had not already been noted in Africa, where the Zika virus

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