If you know the physical geography of the UK you will have a good understanding of population distribution in the UK. The relief (shape of the land) has a significant impact on the distribution of the population. Low land areas tend to be densely populated whereas upland areas have a low population density. Most urban areas have developed in low land areas because they are easier to build on and have favourable climates e.g. Birmingham.
A map to show the physical geography of the UK and Ireland
The map below shows population distribution in the UK.
Population density in the UK based on the 2011 UK census.
Upland areas, such as northern Scotland, tend to be sparsely populated because they are difficult to build on and the climate is often cold and wet. Also, these areas are difficult to farm and lack natural resources.
Some coastal locations have a high population density. This is particularly the case close to estuaries because harbours can be constructed. In the past, this enabled the fishing industry to develop along with ports being established to enable trading to occur.
Urban areas have also developed where there are large reserves of natural resources. This includes iron ore and coal e.g. Newcastle and Leeds.
Population density is high in the south-east of England, due to the favourable climate and proximity to the capital city of the UK, London. The city has many industries and is a global financial centre.