I'm tired of maps of world population that lazily represent a country's population as evenly distributed throughout its territory. Who in India lives in the Thar Desert? How many people in Egypt live outside the Nile Valley? The map below--with each dot representing ten million people--is an attempt to show the real human population distribution in 2000.
The first thing that jumps out at you just how much humanity today is still concentrated in the old river-valley Eurasian agriculural heartlands: the Ganges-Indus and the China Coast-Yangtze-Yellow River regions, plus secondary population concentrations in Honshu, Java, along the Nile, and the Rhine-Thames (plus the mouths of the Niger, the Hudson, and the southern coast of Brazil.
Perhaps the most curious thing from the long-term structure of human population history is the Middle East. The quadrilateral from Greece to Ebypt to Iran to the Caucasus held perhaps half the human race 7000 years ago. The other earliest civilizations--India and China--have maintained their relative demographic weight. What happened to the Middle East?