Photo of the Day: 3D map of Taiwan's population density

British professor creates 3D population density map of Taiwan

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Map of Taiwan's population density. (Alasdair Rae image)

Map of Taiwan's population density. (Alasdair Rae image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A British professor on Monday (May 4) created this fascinating three-dimensional map of Taiwan depicting its population density.

The map's creator, Alasdair Rae, 43, told Taiwan News that he used a software tool called Aerialod to generate the topographical population density map based on Global Human Settlement (GHS) population data released by the EU. Rae said that he created the population relief map on Monday and posted it on Twitter on Tuesday (May 5).

Rae, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield who hails from Scotland, said that the large grid squares represent 100 square kilometers, while the small elevated boxes are approximately one square kilometer in size. When asked what his inspiration was to devise the map, Rae said, "understanding, analyzing, and visualizing population density is one part of what I do as a professor in urban studies and planning."

Many netizens observed that the chart is the reverse of a regular relief map, as the mountains are the flattest areas due to low populations, while Taiwan's plains have become towering peaks. To give an extra sense of realism and three dimensions, Rae added shadows to the back of the population mountains to yield a kind of "sunset effect."


Topographical population density map of Taiwan. (Alasdair Rae image)

The highest peak is clearly the Taipei-Keelung metropolitan area in the north, followed by Taichung in the center, Chiayi and Tainan, in the southwest, and Kaohsiung in the south. In contrast, cities such as Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung show up as little molehills in sparsely populated northeastern and eastern Taiwan.

Rae said that the highest peaks on the map include sectors of Keelung, Taipei City, New Taipei City, Chiayi City, and Taichung City, as neighborhoods in these cities have the most densely populated one-kilometer cells, the most inhabited of which contain at least 20,000 people in a single cell.