Monday, February 28, 2011

Fibonacci Spiral In Human Settlement Patterns

O hai, it's me again.

I was looking at the Fibonacci spiral, and noticed that it can sort of be found in land masses.

The Tibetan plateau if very Fibonacci-like. This was the first one I noticed.

The coast along the Gulf of Mexico uses the spiral, from New Orleans to the end of Mexico, and then up through the middle of the Great Lakes.

This may look like I'm just looking for coincidences by applying the fibonacci spiral to various maps, rather than finding actual information. That kind of is what I did. This was a project for school, and I didn't want to be like everybody else and write about bees and rabbits multiplying. So naturally, I looked at maps and found them everywhere.

Here you can see that the entire continent of Africa is one giant Fibonacci spiral.

But then I noticed something even more interesting. It's easy to find spirals in land masses, but will it work with population distribution?

I took population density maps off the internet without permission, overlaid a Fibonacci spiral over them, in most cases starting at the capital, and I found that human settlements also follow a pattern.

I tried Africa again, and found that the majority of highly populated spots fall on or close to where the spiral predicts. Africa doesn't have a capital, because it is not a country. So I started in Nigeria, the most populous African country. It's almost the same spiral used to show the shape of the land mass. This actually makes practical sense, because people love living near the coast, so it's not as impressive as one would think.

Texas is the best example, the others start to look more randomly placed.
Beginning from Austin, the capital, the spiral goes through all the major cities; San Antonio, Houston, it gets close to Ft Worth and Dallas. It passes between Lubbock and Midland; they are not very large places, but they are cities in an area where there's almost nothing else. I was in west Texas, there's really nothing there at all.

Seriously, driving through west Texas is as boring as west Nebraska. In Nebraska, just look out the window once, now you know what the entire state looks like.

This is an old Russian map, the darker parts are the most populated. This spirals out from a place called Samara, it didn't work with Moscow.

In Iran, many major cities are right on the line. Some are not, but people need cities all over the place. We can't expect this to be perfect, I'm only looking for patterns here.

A map of France shows that heavily populated areas follow a mostly spiral shape, with the three densest spots outside of france all along the edges.

Connecticut gets two spirals, because with a land mass this large, it is culturally almost like two different states. The large spiral begins in New Britain. It goes through all the major cities, and along the small cities in the rural and strange eastern part of the state along the population centers there.

Fairfield county, which is considered part of the New York Suburbs, has a separate spiral, which passes through the county's four major cities.


  1. That is ridiculously fascinating. O_o I wonder if it also works on a more microcosmic level for neighborhoods within cities, electricity usage, etc.

  2. I should totally try that with a city.

  3. I say, 'tis but a nice investigation!

    I am also quite fond of some of yer posts, thus affirming that I do share some POVs with ye - reach me Face, 'tis Diego Aurelio Cotrim Ramires!


  4. This is fascinating. I'm from Texas so when I saw the Texas image I had to take a closer look. I got to the image from google images as I was exploring the golden ratio. I'm nowhere close to being as clever at you at this stuff but how did you interpose the golden ratio over the images please. I'd like to know so I can do some explorations of my own if you don't mind. If I do come across anything interesting I'll let you know.

  5. These don't really follow a Fibonacci spiral. The landforms (himalayas, gulf coast/atlantic) don't really match up with the exception of a few areas. And while some of the population clusters match, how do you account for the rest of them? I think this is a case where correlation does not imply causation.

  6. ever think about researching the first settlement places in a country or region as the start point? Interesting stuff :) - and you wrote it on my bday. lol

  7. I wonder how does this work for Romania / Ancient Dacian territory.

  8. LOOL It means could superpose a fibonacci spiral everywhere

  9. I liked it, especially the part with Nebraska...:)

  10. i Believe this should be tried with the map of the earth layed out. Now if u manage to do that, you check not the density of the populations but rather if they follow the Fibonacci ratio pattern. from the centre all the way out. if i am to think out of the top of my head think about it it would make sense bc if u start in the middle which would be some where around the middle east and africa ur ratio would be start at one and the further you go out you will reach the united states china india and those have very high populations. Again this is just off the top of my head im throwing you an idea, try to look into it and let us know!

  11. Thank you. Tris is hay I Washington looping fort. Tris is what I was looking for.