PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2012, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (2): 156-166.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2012.02.004

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Population Growth and Temporal-spatial Differentiation in Loess Plateau Region in the last 2000 Years

LIU Yanhua1,2, XU Yong1, LIU Yi1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2011-05-01 Revised:2011-10-01 Online:2012-02-25 Published:2012-02-25

Abstract: Population research is very helpful in learning a region’s economic and social situation and making a scientific judgment on its development stage. The unique natural environment and social-economic development situation in the Loess Plateau region makes it one of the most noticeable places for researchers. However, population research there is not so common. Combined with historical documents, this paper makes a systematic analysis of distribution and evolution of population in the Loess Plateau region in the past 2000 years by using a series of model and GIS spatial analysis methods. The results are shown as follows. (1) In historical times before 1949, the Loess Plateau region was a main place for dynasties to change and to fight for power. So population development there experienced big ups and downs during that term. But the population evolution then shows a slight increase trend. Population there after 1949 increased at an unprecedented speed and reached the highest level in historical times, as living and service conditions improved a lot. (2) Mainly decided by its natural environment differentiation, the basic distribution of population in the Loess Plateau region showed an extreme unevenness in the historical times. Cultivation of central cities, national and local economic distribution and population development strategy are the main reasons for the changes of population distribution during different times. Other humanistic reasons, like progress in technology or exploration of natural resources, influence population distribution at a comparatively low extent and small scale. (3) Distribution of population density in the Loess Plateau region steadily showed a characteristic of westwardly and northwardly getting sparser and sparser. Population intensely concentrated in the northwest of Henan Province, Fenhe and Weihe river valleys, and other valley plains in the middle and lower reaches of Yellow River, while population density in the windy and sandy regions and the typical loess hilly regions is very low. But as polarization effect of central cities getting stronger, not only population in high density area increased dramatically, population in Hetao Plain, Ningxia Plain and the Qinghai-Gansu region also increased a lot. Although population density in these regions is still far less than that in the southwest valley plain regions, the basic population distribution in the Loess Plateau region is increasingly forming a characteristic of inner low density zones surrounded by outer high-density zones.

Key words: Loess Plateau Region, population growth, temporal-spatial differentiation, the past 2000 years