U.S. Population Density Mapped

Population density has been monitored for more than 200 years in the U.S. During this time, the number of people living in the U.S. per square mile has grown from 4.5 in 1790 to 87.4 in 2010.

The current population of the U.S. is 332 million (2020), and the country ranks 146th in population density (87 pop/mi2 or 34 pop/km2).

Approximately 65 percent of the U.S. population, or nearly 2 out of every 3 Americans, live in the red line, known as the “100 Mile Zone.”

Map of 100 Mile Zone of the U.S.

The population density of the U.S. ranges from state to state. The northeastern region of the U.S. is the most densely populated part of the nation.

The most densely populated U.S. state is New Jersey (1,263 per sq mi). Rhode Island is the second-most densely populated U.S. state (1,006 per sq mi). The least populated state is Alaska (1.26 per sq mi).

The map below created by Reddit user JoeFalchetto compares the population density of the U.S. States with other countries.

How do the U.S. states compare to the rest of the world by population density?

Map of comparing population density of the U.S. states with other countries

Population density by metropolitan statistical area

U.S. citizens were more apparent to dwell in the highest-density urban areas in 2020 than in 1980, 1990, 2000, or 2010.

Today, it is determined that 83 percent of the American population resides in urban neighborhoods, up from 64 percent in 1950. It is projected that 89 percent of the nation’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.

More than three hundred urban neighborhoods in the United States have populations up to 100 thousand; New York City, with more than eight million residents, is the largest.

The average population density of metropolitan statistical areas (city and surrounding communities) is 284 people per sq. mi.; in New York City, the population density is more than 27 thousand people per sq. mi.

Population density by metropolitan statistical area mapped

Amid 2000 and 2010, metropolitan land area in the United States rose by 15 percent. Nowadays, the metropolitan land area is 106.4 sq mi, or 3 percent of the entire land area in the country, and is forecasted to more than duplicate by 2060.

The map below shows American counties by population density.

US counties by population density

The map was created by dividing the U.S. county population by the land area.

U.S. counties with the lowest density are primarily located in only several U.S. states: Alaska, Montana, Texas, and Nevada. The high-density counties include large cities.

Population density by U.S. county
U.S. counties with lowest density, people per squre mile (2020)

1. Yukon-Koyukuk (Alaska) – 0.03
2. Lake and Peninsula (Alaska) – 0.06
3. Yakutat (Alaska) – 0.10
4. North Slope (Alaska) – 0.10
5. Denali (Alaska) – 0.16
6. Northwest Arctic (Alaska) – 0.21
7. Esmeralda (Nevada) – 0.25
8. Dillingham (Alaska) – 0.26
9. Garfield (Montana) – 0.26
10. Kenedy (Texas) – 0.28
11. Loving (Texas) – 0.28
12. Southeast Fairbanks (Alaska) – 0.29
13. Terrel (Texas) – 0.30
14. King (Texas) – 0,30
15. Petroleum (Montana) – 0,30
16. Harding (New Mexico) – 0,37
17. Carter (Montana) – 0,43
18. Nome (Alaska) – 0,44
19. Bethel (Alaska) – 0,49
20. Lincoln (Nevada) – 0.49

U.S. counties with highest population density, people per square mile (2020)

1. New York (New York) – 70828.33
2. Kings (New York) – 42513.96
3. Bronx (New York) – 35088.64
4. Queens (New York) – 21162.42
5. San Francisco (California) – 18352.05
6. Hudson (New Jersey) – 11888.95
7. Suffolk (Massachusetts) – 11682.96
8. District of Columbia (District of Columbia) – 10799.44
9. Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) – 10772.01
10. Manassas Park (Virginia) – 10407.00
11. Richmond (New York) – 9875.76
12. Arlington (Virginia) – 9285.96
13. Alexandria (Virginia) – 9201.19
14. Baltimore City (Maryland) – 6866.38
15. Essex (New Jersey) – 6168.09
16. Cook (Illinois) – 5301.71
17. Union (New Jersey) – 5150.45
18. Norfolk (Virginia) – 5026.96
19. Nassau (New York) – 4954.24
20. Harrisonburg (Virginia) – 4765.16

U.S. counties by population density from 1990 to 2020

The significant U.S. population rise began nearby 1870 and the population density doubled in 1900. At that time, the population density was about 11 per sq mile, and then the population has doubled in the last century. Since then, population density rose by approximately 16% each decade.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population increase of 32.7 million people between 1990 and 2000 depicts the most considerable census-to-census rise in American history. The former record rise was 28 million people between 1950 and 1960. This gain was fueled primarily by the post-WWII baby boom.

As a result from 1900 to 2010 population density increased in total by about 800% until 2010.

According to Census.gov, currently, the nation’s growth is slowing, and international migration growth is slowing as well, dropping to 595 thousand within 2018 and 2019. Between 2010 and 2019, the year with the highest international migration was 2016 (~ 1 million). Since 2016, the net international migration has been steadily declining every year.

The video below shows how U.S. population density has been changed from 1990 to nowadays.

The map below shows how population density changed in percentage from 1990 to 2020.

U.S. population density change mapped

This map clearly shows the decline in U.S. rural population. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau estimations, rural areas lost 226 thousand people, a drop of nearly 0.5 percent, between 2010 and 2020, while cities and outskirts grew by approximately 21 million people.

Changes to the mean centre of population for the U.S.

The map below depicts how the mean center of the U.S. population has been changed through time.

United States Mean Center of Population

The length of the path (1990-2917): 69.32 miles
Speed: 2.57 miles per year

The mean center of population for the  U.S. (Missouri counties):

1990: Crawford
1991: Crawford
1992: Crawford
1993: Crawford
1994: Crawford
1995: Crawford
1996: Phelps
1997: Dent
1998: Dent
1999: Dent
2000: Dent
2001: Dent
2002: Dent
2003: Dent
2004: Phelps
2005: Phelps

2006: Phelps
2007: Texas
2008: Texas
2009: Texas
2010: Texas
2011: Texas
2012: Texas
2013: Texas
2014: Texas
2015: Texas
2016: Wright
2017: Wright
2018: Wright
2019: Wright
2020: Wright

Median centres of population for the 48 U.S. States

Reddit user curiouskip made an exciting map of median centers of population for the lower 48 states.

The median center of populations of the state is the intersection of the population-weighted median latitude and longitude. It appears on the map below as the point of intersection of all four colors.

Map of the median center of U.S. population

Each color represents one quadrant split by the median population latitudes and longitudes. Each of the below groupings represents one-half of that’s state’s population. Note that a single quadrant does not represent one-quarter of a state’s population.

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