Google Earth Exercise: Chapter 5

Visualizing Population Change: Births, Deaths, Infant Mortality, and AIDS

The relationship between mortality, birth rates, and AIDS is described well in Human Geography, Eighth Edition. In this exercise we will examine the patterns of these indicators on a global scale.

The task: Using Google Earth, examine the choropleth maps of crude death rate (CDR), crude birth rate (CBR), infant mortality, and the prevalence of AIDS. The interaction of these maps can provide clues as to what factors impact these variables.

Step 1: Disable all layers in Google Earth, except for “Borders and Labels.” Load the chapter5.kmz file that contains the following layers derived from 2010 World Bank data:

  • AIDS Prevalence per 1000 (inhabitants aged 15–49)
  • Infant Mortality per 1000 births (infants dying before reaching one year of age)
  • CDR (crude death rate per 1000 population)
  • CBR (crude birth rate per 1000 population)

NOTE: clicking on any country while the above layers are enabled will indicate the exact statistic for that layer. For CDR and CBR decadal averages are presented as well as the value from 2010.

Step 2: Begin by alternating between the CDR and CBR layers. Your textbook notes that high mortality and high birth rates are often linked to poverty and are prevalent in less developed countries. Refer to figure 5.11 in your text.

Question 1: Which countries in Africa exhibit a ratio of CDR to CBR that suggests a high rate of natural increase? What is the historical trend for both indicators in these countries? At what stage of the demographic transition model are these countries (refer to Figure 5.11 in your textbook)?

Question 2: Shift your attention to Europe. What broad continental trend is evident in CDR and CBR? Provide some examples of European countries experiencing negative population growth.

Step 3: Use the search box to locate Botswana on the map. Examine all four layers for this country, and compare values to surrounding countries.

Question 3: What do the data suggest about Botswana’s demographics? Compare the CBR and CDR data from the 1980s and 1990s and explain the differences. Refer to all four data layers.

When you have answered the three questions above, scroll to the bottom of the page to check your answers.


Question 1: Examples include Libya and Egypt. Both have experienced a dramatic reduction in CDR and a smaller, but significant reduction in birth rates. This suggests a stabilizing population and a stage 3 classification in the demographic transition model.

Question 2: There is a relative uniformity of birth rates, but mortality increases dramatically in a west-to-east gradient. Most countries of the former Soviet Union are experiencing high mortality and low birth rates—Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Moldova, Latvia, and several others have death rates that exceed birth rates.

Question 3: Botswana’s crude death rate was considerably lower in the 1980s and 1990s. It has risen since and the data suggest that AIDS crisis is a factor. Infant mortality is low for the region, but the prevalence of AIDS is very high, suggesting that mortality is linked to adults succumbing to the disease.