UNEP/GRID-Sioux Falls
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Asia Population Database Documentation

Authored by Uwe Deichmann
National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis
University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Contact by email

Last edition by UNEP/DEIA/GRID-Geneva : 3 May 1996




Part I: Boundary and population data
Discussion of data sources
Population projections
Data quality estimates

Part II: Raster data
Gridding approach
Implementation specifics and output products


Mirror download sites available at:

Summary table and images
Country-specific documentation
Attribute definitions in the boundary data sets


The development of this database was supported by the United Nations Environment Programme/ Global Resource Information Database (UNEP/GRID) and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),in the context of the UNEP/CGIAR Initiative on the Use of GIS in Agricultural Research. Additional support and facilitieswere provided by the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA).

The current database builds upon earlier work at NCGIA described in:

"Tobler, W., U. Deichmann, J. Gottsegen and K. Maloy (1995), The global demography project, Technical Report 95-6, NCGIA, Santa Barbara."

The global demography project was supported by the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc., and NCGIA.

Other groups participating in or supporting this effort include:

United Nations Statistics Division, Software Development Project, New York

UNEP/DEIA/GRID -Geneva, -Sioux Falls, - Tsukuba

Department of Geography, Birkbeck College, London

Consortium International for Earth Science Information Network, Saginaw, Michigan

East-West Center, Program on Population, Honolulu

Mekong River Commission, Vientiane,and University of Bern (CH)

National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.


The Asian administrative boundaries and population database is part of an ongoing effort to improve global, spatially referenced demographic data holdings. Such databases are useful for a variety of applications including strategic-level agricultural research and applications in the analysis of the human dimensions of global change. While the private sector is addressing some of this need for spatial data by marketing georeferenced demographic databases for developed and some large developing countries (e.g., Mexico or India), administrative boundaries and population figures for many countries are still hard to obtain. This project (which has been carried out as a cooperative activity between NCGIA, CGIAR and UNEP/GRID between Oct. 1995 and present) has pooled available data sets, many of which had been assembled for the global demography project. All data were checked, international boundaries and coastlines were replaced with a standard template, the attribute database was redesigned, and new, more reliable population estimates for subnational units were produced for all countries. From the resulting data sets, raster surfaces representing population distribution and population density were created in collaboration between NCGIA and GRID-Geneva.

This documentation provides important information about the databases. Part I describes the development of data layers of administrative boundaries with population totals. This section gives general background information on data sources and estimation procedures. It also discusses the limitations of the database which should be kept in mind in any application. Part II presents the methodology used for constructing a set of gridded data layers of population distribution. Finally, a table containing summary information and images of administrative boundaries and population densities is presented in the appendix which also provides detailed data source information and processing steps for each country.

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