Empty space and full cities

On Monday we went for a walk in the hills or mountains above Selcuk.  We saw a man driving a tractor (having real difficulty with the steepness of the path), an older couple tending an olive field but that was about it.  We walked for nearly five hours in beautiful open countryside.  We saw quite a few birds of various sorts – much more wary than birds in the UK.  But there are more people in the UK.  At least it feels that way.

On Tuesday we went to Bornova Forum.  We went to Ikea specifically – I had not realised how much of a Mall was there.  It reminded me very much of Westfield  only it’s mostly outside.  There are smart kitchen shops and smart tech shops.  Also things I find boring like designer clothes shops some of which are International, some Turkish and some Italian.   We saw elegantly dressed people eating rather delicious looking pastries with various drinks and there is also a Starbucks.

The contrast got me thinking.

Selcuk is a small town.  The population is less than 30,000.  About the same as St. Albans.  Big enough that it’s not a place where everyone knows everyone else, small enough that you are recognised by the shopkeepers whose businesses you frequent. Our own area is village-like in many ways.  But Selcuk is not the whole of Turkey any more than St. Albans is the whole of the UK.

According to my research (purely on the Internet so it could be wrong), the estimated 2010 population of the UK was 62.25 millionish and of Turkey 73.75 millionish.  Not so different, but then I thought about the relative sizes.  Population density in the UK is given as 255.6/km2, for Turkey 94.1/km2 which is very, very different.  Especially when you take into account the population densities of London 4.86/km2 and Istanbul 7.166/km2.   This means that, outside Istanbul , there are even less than 94.1 people per km2.   This is a country with vast amounts of space and with vast numbers of people crowded together in small amounts of that space.

That’s a lot of numbers and I’m wondering if I should draw a graph or two…

But, to me, it does say something about the sort of country we’re living in.  We love the wide open spaces.  We love walking for miles and miles and not seeing anyone.  Yet those big crowded cities – I wonder if they inspire a sense of alienation the way that London does?

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4 responses to “Empty space and full cities

  1. I am sure that you are spot-on…interesting post that got me thinking.

    • Thanks. I was not really sure where I was going with that post and hoping that I finally managed to get somewhere with it. I remember a road trip across California – I was also struck by the space and how people filled it or left it empty.

  2. Turkey is a vast land with a much higher rural population that the UK. Of course, we’ve got a lot more mountains here which accounts for alot of the space!

    • The rapid decline in the percentage of the population living in villages was something that interested me when I was looking at the stats. I think that helps me understand the way people live in the towns ‘as if’ they were villages.

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