Geography, European colonization, and past population dynamics in Africa

Research, Preprint English OPEN
Vaz Silva, Luís (2007)
  • Publisher: Dublin: University College Dublin, UCD Centre for Economic Research
  • Subject: Umwelt | Kolonialismus | Africa--Population; Population geography--Environmental aspects; Africa--Colonization | Agrarproduktion | Africa--Population | Population geography--Environmental aspects | Africa--Colonization | Natürliche Ressourcen | Afrika südlich der Sahara | Bevölkerungsentwicklung
    • ddc: ddc:330
    mesheuropmc: parasitic diseases

Past population dynamics in Africa have remained largely elusive due to the lack of demographic data. Researchers are understandably deterred from trying to explain what is not known and African historical population estimates suffer from this lack of interest. In this paper I explain present day African population densities using mostly ecological factors as explanatory variables. I find evidence supporting the view that ecological factors deeply affected precolonial patterns of human settlement in Sub-Saharan Africa. Human populations grew relatively large in the presence of lakes, highlands, or when situated in the wet, coastal regions of Western Africa. Other environmental suites were thinly populated with overall population sizes stagnant at low or very low steady states. Subsequent developments show that dramatic increases in the agricultural productivity of peripheral, semiarid areas were possible once colonial innovations were on hand. Thus, European colonization had likely asymmetric effects on the population dynamics of different regions of Africa.
  • References (18)
    18 references, page 1 of 2

    Appleby, Andrew B. "Epidemics and Famine in the Little Ice Age." Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1980, 10.

    Ballard, Charles. "Drought and Economic Distress: South Africa in the 1800s." Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1986, 17(2), pp. 359-78.

    Barrios, Salvador; Bertinelli, Luisito and Strobl, Eric. "Dry Times in Africa," CREDIT Research Paper. Nottingham, 2003.

    Childe, Vere G. What Happened in History. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1952.

    da Silva Correia, Elias Alexandre. História De Angola. Lisboa, 1782.

    Dias, Jill R. "Famine and Disease in the History of Angola C. 1830-1930." Journal of African History, 1981, 22(3), pp. 349-78.

    Dyson, Tim and Ó Gráda, Cormac. Famine Demography: Perspectives from the Past and Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

    Eldredge, Elizabeth A. "Drought, Famine and Disease in Nineteenth-Century Lesotho." African Economic history, 1987, 16, pp. 61-93.

    Giblin, James. "Famine and Social Change During the Transition to Colonial Rule in Northeastern Tanzania, 1880-1896." African Economic history, 1986, 15, pp. 85-105.

    Hailey, Lord. An African Survey (Revised 1956). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957.

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark