Personal space per person in various countries

How much space is there per person in different countries? Andrew Bergmann for CNNMoney took a look.

Population density measures the amount of people in a given area, generally per square kilometer or mile. It’s difficult to get a clear image of what these vast spaces actually represent, so I thought that it would be interesting to flip the equation on its head and figure out how much space there is on average per person.

The interactive shows 20 countries and each is represented by a circle sized by average square feet per person. Of course, as with population density, this data is broad with land distribution and usage to consider, but it’s informative from a general viewpoint. Although the math might be slightly off in the square feet calculation. Or maybe that’s just rounding.

I’m surprised I haven’t seen something like this before. See population density from the more traditional point of view here, here, and here. Oh, and here. I think the last one is my favorite.


  • Personal space maybe has a bit too many positive connotations. While the population density *does* affect your personal space when it is narrow, that space is also the distance you have to cover to reach your nearest commodities. If you need a car to reach shops, kindergardens and your nearest neighbour, personal space is a negative factor for a city.

  • To be more exact. It is various space in cities (more than countries) ;)

    To go further with the data visualization, it would be interesting to have the density at different times of the day. (workers flux, visitors if data are available)

    nitpicks: I would have love to have access to the sources of data. We do not know what has been chosen to compare this density. Also if the density comes from his own computations, there are challenges such as Tokyo which is a city and a prefecture, but with a complete different surface.

    • Ralph Kurtz April 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

      IMHO, having access to the primary source material (‘sources of data’) is not “nitpicking.” Similarly, I would need a description of calculation models and definitions of the cities’ geographic boundaries to be convinced of the validity of this representation. I realize CNN sells headlines and not deep analysis, but I welcome CNN’s response and that of other FD readers.

      Sweet representation, though — it showed me something I didn’t expect: Paris’ density or comparative low square feet per person

  • From the description it takes population density, which ignores any effect of building height/ number of floors. Graphic would be more interesting if it represented the average space around an individual…