Journal of Geo-information Science ›› 2017, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (2): 225-237.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1047.2017.00225

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis of Population Distribution and Its Spatial Relationship with Terrain Elements in the Yarlung Zangbo River, Nyangqu River and Lhasa River Region, Tibet

ZHAO Tongtong1,2(), SONG Bangguo1,2, CHEN Yuansheng1,*(), YAN Huimin1, XU Zengrang1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2016-09-19 Revised:2016-11-04 Online:2017-02-28 Published:2017-02-17
  • Contact: CHEN Yuansheng;


The Yarlung Zangbo River, Nyangqu River and Lhasa River Region (the YNL River Region) is the political, economic and cultural center of Tibet, with large population and more developed economy. In this region, there are a variety of complex terrain units, such as mountain plateau, valley plains, and the geomorphological conditions directly or indirectly affect population distribution in this region. Study on the relationship between population distribution and complex topography can be helpful to reveal the present situation of population distribution and understand the spatial structure of population distribution. This study will play an important role in selecting a livable site, improving living environment of the farmers and herdsmen and making the policy of regional economic development. This study will have great significance on the sustainable development of the population, resources and environment in this region. Based on the STRM DEM (30 m) and 1km×1km population density raster data in 2010, we used spatial analysis of ARCGIS 10.1 and raster calculation to extracted terrain features data from DEM. This paper analyzed the population distribution in the YNL River Region, Tibet and quantified the relationship between population distribution and topographical parameters, i.e. elevation, slope, aspect and relief degree of land surface (RDLS). The results showed that: (1) The population density in 90% of the total area of the YNL River Region is less than 10 persons / km2, and 80% of the population distributes in less than 5% of the land. The population distribution is relatively concentrated. At present, there are two main population gathering area in YNL River Region, Chengguan District in Lhasa and Shigatse City in Shigatse Region. Lhasa Chengguan District is particularly significant. (2) Population shows a significant characteristic of distribution along the river. 80.46% of the population lives in the area less than 10 km to the river and there is a significant exponential correlation between population and the distance to rivers. The population density within 2 km from the river is higher than 50 persons / km2. (3) Nearly 99% of the population locates at an altitude of 4500 m or less. When the altitude exceeds 3800m, population density with elevation shows a downward trend. (4) Nearly 70% of the population distributes in the area with slope gradient less than 15°. The greater slope, the smaller population density. The slope aspect has no significant influence on population distribution. (5) RDLS has a relatively significant influence on population distribution. 85% of the population is located in the regions with RDLS less than 800 m. The population density and RDLS are in inverse exponential relationship.

Key words: kilometer grids, population distribution, terrain, the YNL River Region, Tibet