Report of the World Survey Committee

By S.M. Stirling

Department of Foreign Affairs
Report of the World Survey Committee
To: Chief Cofflin

The committee emphasizes that the following population estimates are extremely tentative. The data range from precise (Nantucket and Outports) through fairly solid (Alba) to the reasonable (Babylonia, Egypt) to the wildly speculative (India, Africa). This is our 'best guess', based on samples, extrapolation, interviews with travellers, and sometimes picking figures out of a hat.

World Population:

We estimate that the total world population as of the Year 10 is between 40 and 100 millions; probably towards the lower end of that range. Using 20th century divisions for convenience sake, the distribution is roughly as follows:

Egypt:  3 million
Bablyonia:  3 million (Assyria and surrounding territories additional 1 million).
North Africa:  0.5 million
Iberia:  0.75 million
Alba:  0.35 million
Great Achaea:  1.25 million (Greece, Aegean, Balkans, Sicily, southern Italy)
Europe:  6 million (excludes European Russia)
Anatolia:  1.5 million
Russia:  3 million (including Eurasian steppe zone and central Asia).
China:  5-8 million (not including Yangtse valley and tropical areas)
N.E. Asia:  1 million (Korea, Japan, Manchuria)
Tropical Asia:  5-8 million (central and southern China, SE Asia, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia)
Indian subcontinent:  3 million
Sub-saharan Africa:  1-2 million (heavily concentrated in the Sahel).
North America:  0.75 million (not including Mesoamerica)
Mesoamerica:  1.5 million (Mexico and Central America).
South America:  1.5 million
Australia:  0.5 million
New Guinea:  0.5 million

Most of Polynesia, including Hawaii and New Zealand, is uninhabited. Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands are also uninhabited. In the Americas, populations are heavily concentrated in a few zones where farming has taken hold -- Central Mexico, coastal and inland Peru, and the Andes. Elsewhere, hunter-gatherer population densities range from low to extremely low, with a few pockets of denser habitation where unusual concentrations of resources (salmon in the Pacific Northwest, for example) allow.

Our best estimate is that there were no more than 15,000 Indians in New England as of the Event. As of the Year 10, that number has been reduced to less than half and is still declining. We could find only about 600 people on the whole of Long Island when we purchased it from the locals, for instance. Large areas elsewhere (the Argentine Pampas, for instance) appear to be even more scantily inhabited.

More than half the population of Africa is apparently in Egypt. Most of the remainder is in North Africa, which is neolithic to early Bronze Age, or in a narrow strip along the southern fringe of the Sahara, which is neolithic. The rest of the continent is hunter-gatherer, with fairly extensive areas in the dense rainforests not inhabited at all. The whole five million square miles south of the Equator appears to have about a quarter of a million inhabitants.

Figures for Asia are more tentative. From our contacts with the Shang kingdom and visits to coastal areas elsewhere, it appears that intensive rice cultivation is only beginning to encroach on the tropical forests of the river valleys and deltas - clearing them with bronze tools is extremely labor intensive.

European populations are also fairly low. The main concentration appears to be in a band from the Channel to Bulgaria, centered on the light loess soils. The North European Plain is quite thinly inhabited, although there are local concentrations on the coast. The situation in European Russia is similar, but with even lower densities.

Really dense populations are confined to the Near East, Egypt, and adjacent areas, and to parts -- small parts -- of India and China. Even there they are low by historic standards.


As far as we can determine, both birth and mortality rates are high in all agricultural populations, and both are someone lower among hunter-gatherers; birth-rates of 35-45 per 1000 among farmers, and around 25-30 among hunter-gatherers. Death rates are highest in the Egyptian and Near Eastern centers where agriculture first developed, and there they approach those which the references cite as normal for preindustrial populations. Elsewhere outside tropical Africa the disease environment seems to be somewhat more benign than we might have expected. The great killers -- smallpox, cholera, bubonic plague -- are mostly absent. Malaria and yellow fever are confined to equatorial Africa.

Projections: The Republic of Nantucket

Nantucket's gross death rate has remained broadly similar to the pre-Event level, apart from a 'blip' in the first six months of the Year 1 due to suicides and to the unavoidable loss of those dependent on high-technology medicine. Since then adult mortality has actually declined below the pre-Event level, while infant mortality has risen but only slightly.

However, birth rates have risen sharply, reaching a new peak in the Year 6 and plateauing thereafter. Census data indicate that the average age of marriage has fallen to 21 and the number of children per completed family risen to over 3.7, comparable to those during the US post-war "baby boom" period of the early 1950's. Additionally, the program of adopting Alban orphans has added an average of 1.9 children per family, including the formation of 'secondary families' among many retirees.

These factors alone would reduce the time required to double the population to approximately 20 years. In addition, the Republic received around 5000 permanent immigrants from Alba immediately after the Alban War, primarily refugees, freed slaves of the Sun People, and displaced persons. Immigrant numbers fell after the peak in the Years 4 and 5, but are starting to climb again. Currently permanent immigration is projected to average approximately 1,000 per year for the forseeable future, including non-citizen members of the armed forces mustering out, but not including adoptees. Since virtually all the adult immigrants are in the 18-35 age range, their presence skews the gross birthrate upwards; so will the coming maturation of the post-Event wave of adoptions, as these individuals come of age and marry.

Between the Year 1 and the Year 10 the Republic's total population has grown from slightly under 8,000 to 20,000. Given a continuation of current trends, this will double in the next 10 years, and probably continue to double ever 15-20 years thereafter for a century or more. The exact numbers depend on political and economic factors impossible to predict, but it would be safe to assume that by the Year 100 the Republic's population will exceed 250,000, and possibly be as high as 400,000. Given the space and available water constraints of Nantucket Island, most of those will have to be accomodated in the outports. Luckily, Earth in this era is very thinly peopled.

Projections: Alba -- and adjacent areas

As of the Year 1, we estimate that Alba -- the main island of Britain -- contained approximately 350,000 people, a high figure for this era. Of those, some 2/3 were Fiernan Bohulugi, and the remainder the various teuatha of the Sun People. Population was and is much heavier in the southern, southwestern and eastern periphery of the island. The clay-soiled oak forests of the midlands and the northern uplands both remain thinly inhabited. Ireland had a population in the 100,000 range.

The casualties of the Alban War and the subsequent wave of immigration to the Republic have removed approximately 10,000 adults and children from the island's population. However, the medical missions established in the Year 2 have already reduced the overall mortality rate significantly, and the infant and maternal mortality rates spectacularly within areas subscribing to the Alliance Treaty -- the percentage of children surviving to the age of two seems to have increased from barely 50% to more than 80% in many areas. The number of mothers dying in childbed has fallen from 1 in 10 to 1 in 35. Both trends are continuing, in fact accelerating, as knowledge of basic sanitation and antiseptic childbirth spreads. The Fiernan priestesses of Moon Woman, with their far-reaching network of councils, have brought the new methods to every hamlet in their section of Alba. Church missions and returning workers and military personnel have performed a similar service among the Sun People, albeit more slowly. The last holdouts have largely come around as the results become obvious. Better nutrition, clothing and housing have also contributed to the fall in deaths. The Alban population is now increasing at at least 3% per annum, with a doubling time of no more than 30 years and possibly less. Currently, the Alliance Council is receiving applications for membership from all the remaining Alban communities, and this should accelerate the demographic factors mentioned above. Our projections indicate a population of no less than 2.5 million by the Year 100, and possibly considerably more.

Furthermore, immigration to Alba from both Ireland and mainland Europe (and from as far away as Scandinavia) seems to be building up rapidly; primarily to Islander-managed mining and industrial facilities at first, but increasingly due to local demand for labor as well, and farming opportunities opened up by improved methods and tools. Precise figures are unavailable, as much of this traffic (and the trade it accompanies) is in Alban hands.

Some communities in Ireland (or the Summer Isle, to use Fiernan terminology) are undergoing a similar, if slower, transformation. Elementary medical knowledge is spreading on the mainland of Europe as well, along the lines of Islander and Alban contact and trade. Even as elementary an innovation as potatoes can have a significant effect on population growth, by improving nutrition in poor-soil areas.

smstirling-fan Back to to the Unofficial S.M. Stirling Fan Page.

Text converted to HTML by Bo Johansson 2003-02-02

Last changed 2012-09-11