Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
Education Services
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
Education Services

Education Services home page > CensusAtSchool home page > Year 8 Resources


Back to Education Services home page

GEO 04 – Population Density

You can download this activity as a rich text file (RTF) using the links at the bottom of the page.

Subject Area


Suggested Level

    Years 9–10


    The distribution of population may be illustrated in a number of different ways. GEO_03 illustrated the use of dot maps. This activity uses information from the Year Book Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 1301.0) to calculate and map population density for the states and territories of Australia. The advantages and disadvantages of displaying the data in this way are examined.


  • Sweets/lollies and paper/card squares (optional)
  • Attachment, Map of Australian states and territories


    The concept of population density may be introduced using a number of small "lollies" and a small square of plain paper or card. The card represents one square kilometre. Density is altered by the addition of "lollies" to the paper/card square.

    Population density is the number of people per square kilometre. The formula for calculating density is shown below.

    Population Density = Number of People/Area of land (square kilometres)

    1. Ask students to use the formula to calculate population density and complete Table 1. Correct answers are shown in section 7.

    TABLE 1: POPULATION by state and territory, 30th June 2006
    State/TerritoryPopulationEstimated Area (km2)Density of Population

    People per square kilometre

    Australian Capital Territory334 2002 358
    New South Wales6 817 200800 642
    Northern Territory210 7001 349 129
    Queensland4 091 5001 730 648
    South Australia1 568 200983 482
    Tasmania489 90068 401
    Victoria5 128 300227 416
    Western Australia2 059 0002 529 875
    Australia(a)20 701 5007 692 024
    Source: Year Book Australia, 2008 (cat. No. 1301.0) Table 7.3 and Table 1.1
    (a ) Includes Other Territories. Other Territories comprise Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and the Cocos(Keeling) Islands.

    2. Use the data from the table and Figure 1 to display the density of population for Australia’s states and territories. Remember to add BOLTSS
    (border, orientation, legend, title, scale and source) to the map.

    At this point ask students to either:
    • identify the categories for the data, or
    • use the categories provided below.
    • – 100+ people per square kilometre
    – 20-99 people per square kilometre
    – 2-9 people per square kilometre
    – < 2 people per square kilometre.

    Image: Figure1: Map of Australia

    3. Identify one advantage and one disadvantage of representing the information about the population in a population density map.


    State/TerritoryPopulationEstimated Area (km2)Density of Population People per square kilometre
    Australian Capital Territory 3342002358141.7
    New South Wales 68172008006428.5
    Northern Territory 21070013491290.2
    Queensland 409150017306482.4
    South Australia 15682009834821.6
    Tasmania 489900684017.2
    Victoria 512830022741622.6
    Western Australia 205900025298750.8

    Source: Yearbook Australia, 2008 ( 1301.0)


    Distribution of Population
    is the spread or arrangement of something over an area.

    Density of Population is the number of people per square kilometre.


Download the Activity

Student Activity

Teacher Solutions

Geo_04_Pop Density_Student Worksheet.rtf

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.