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Population Density By State

Population Density By State
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Intro: When it comes to population density across the United States, the picture varies dramatically from densely populated pockets teeming with urban life, to sprawling landscapes that house fewer people per square mile. 

  • New Jersey, the most densely populated state, has 1,259 residents per square mile. Contrastingly, Alaska, with the lowest density, has only 1 resident per square mile —a difference that marks profound regional differences in population distribution.
  • The data outlines how small states in the Northeast, like Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have some of the highest population densities in the country. Rhode Island, with only about 1,034 square miles of landmass, has 1,055 residents per square mile.
  • Ample land availability tends to result in lower population density. This pattern is most notably seen in Midwestern states and parts of the South, where larger land areas and more spread-out communities contribute to lower densities.
  • Surprisingly, California, the most populous state in the U.S. ranks eleventh in terms of population density. Despite its large number of residents, the extensive land area dilutes the overall population density.
  • There's a distinctive cluster of high population densities along the Northeast corridor running from Washington D.C. to Boston. This section of the country that includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland is heavily urbanized, contributing to densities over 600 people per square mile.

Most Dense States

The state with the highest population density is New Jersey, as it boasts a whopping 1,259 residents per square mile. Rhode Island, though being the smallest state, ranks second with 1,055 residents per square mile. Massachusetts, with its bustling city life and numerous smaller cities, comes third with 894 residents per square mile. 

Connecticut and Maryland are not far behind, with population densities of 749 and 634 residents per square mile, respectively. This data aligns with the observation of high population densities along the Northeast corridor, stretching from Washington D.C. to Boston.

Furthermore, Delaware boasts a density of 529 residents per square mile, securing its spot as the sixth most densely populated state. In the seventh slot is Florida, with a density of 423 residents per square mile, which is somewhat surprising given the state's reputation for ample outdoor spaces.

The eighth and ninth most densely populated states are New York and Pennsylvania, with 414 and 289 residents per square mile respectively. Despite housing the most populous city in the U.S – New York City, the state of New York is only eighth in terms of density due to its vast rural areas. Finally, Ohio rounds out the top ten with a similar population density to Pennsylvania at 288 residents per square mile, which can be attributed to its balance of urban areas and rural farmlands.

States the Highest Residents per Square Mile:

  1. New Jersey - 1,259
  2. Rhode Island - 1,055
  3. Massachusetts - 894
  4. Connecticut - 749
  5. Maryland - 634
  6. Delaware - 529
  7. Florida - 423
  8. New York - 414
  9. Pennsylvania - 289
  10. Ohio - 288

Least Dense States

Alaska, the largest state by land area, remains the least densely populated due to its severe weather conditions and remote location, it is difficult to establish urban centers comparable to the rest of the states. Wyoming follows suit with just 6 residents per square mile, emphasizing its characteristically rural nature and expansive open spaces.

Similarly, Montana and the Dakotas, North and South, share a rather small population size compared to their geographical scale. Montana has 8 residents per square mile, while North Dakota and South Dakota mark 11 and 12 residents per square mile respectively. With wide-spread agricultural lands and rural communities, these states hint at a laid-back lifestyle surrounded by nature's vast beauty.

Next, we move to New Mexico and Idaho, with 17 and 24 residents per square mile respectively. Their low population density is indicative of the vast tracts of wilderness and national park landscapes that these states are renowned for.

The broad plains of Nebraska, the arid desolation of Nevada, and the endless wheat fields of Kansas also report lower density rates, each registering 26, 29, and 36 residents per square mile respectively. 

10 Least Dense States:

  1. Alaska - 1 Resident per Square Mile
  2. Wyoming - 6 Residents per Square Mile
  3. Montana - 8 Residents per Square Mile
  4. North Dakota - 11 Residents per Square Mile
  5. South Dakota - 12 Residents per Square Mile
  6. New Mexico - 17 Residents per Square Mile
  7. Idaho - 24 Residents per Square Mile
  8. Nebraska - 26 Residents per Square Mile
  9. Nevada - 29 Residents per Square Mile
  10. Kansas - 36 Residents per Square Mile

Full Data Set

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