Bird Island | The Size of Every Village


Awhile ago, I got a comment pointing out that
if my temperate rainforest island is inhabited by 22 400 people, and there is one hundred
villages in total, and if the population size of those villages follows Zipf’s law, then
the largest village on the island will have 4 318 inhabitants, and the smallest one will
have 43. Zipf’s law does more or less apply to the
list of largest cities in the US. New York is the largest city and has around
8.4 million inhabitants. Los Angeles is the second largest one, and
if you take the population of Los Angeles and multiply it by the city’s rank on the
list, two, you will get 8 million, which is pretty close to the number of people living
in New York. Chicago is the third largest city and has
2.7 million inhabitants, and if you multiply that by its rank, three, you get 8.1 million. Again, pretty close to the population of New
York. Houston is at 2.3 million, and if we multiply
that number by the city’s rank, we get 9.2 million, which is overshooting a bit, but
not too bad. And Phoenix is at 1.6 million, and if we multiply
that by five, we get eight million, which again is pretty close to 8.4. But this trick does not work at all when it
comes to the population size of the largest Chinese cities. Or the largest cities of India. So it’s not like you have to have this in
your conworld, but I think making Zipfs law apply, is a nice quick way of establishing
the population size of all the settlements. There’s probably all sorts of variables involved
here, and I am carelessly ignoring them, but it’s still better than coming up with entirely
random numbers. So I have one hundred villages, and here is
the share of the population that every single village gets. Now I only need to place them on the map! I will put the largest village at the mouth
of the largest river, they should get a pretty good salmon run, they can feed themselves. The second largest village is this one, at
the mouth of the second largest river. Then here’s the third largest, the fourth
largest, and the rest of the top ten. Then from eleven to twenty. From twenty one to thirty. From thirty one to forty. From forty one to fifty. From fifty one to to sixty. And the rest of the long tail. Except for village one hundred? I guess I only ever had ninety nine? But I will add it here. So even though the average is two hundred
twenty four people per village, only nineteen of them have two hundred twenty four inhabitants
or more. And over half of them have fewer than a hundred
inhabitants, and are just a few houses standing around in the middle wilderness.

37 thoughts on “Bird Island | The Size of Every Village

  1. dang it. now i wanna do this for some of my conworlds.

    i really can't afford the time to do this for most of my conworlds….

  2. I love how, despite the fact that not that many people watch this channel, there are so many comments immediately after every video comes out. A bunch of us just stop whatever we're doing to watch them.

  3. I would love to visit Bird Island. Are there any interesting landmarks? What is the daily routine for the villagers? Do they have pets?

  4. I wonder how much migration there us between villages? Is it more likely for the outskirts to migrate downstream to the bigger river mouths, or the other way around?

    Maybe one of the bigger drivers of migration could be marriage, assuming that one spouse moves to live with the other and inter-village marriage is common.

  5. that picture at the end of the few-houses village reminds me of one of the planets in the game Heaven's Vault, which i beat recently! have you ever played this, ewa? (i don't know if you're much of a gamer 😅)

    it's very up this channel's alley! you get to decipher a sort of con-script, and learn more about the ways of people who populated various worlds in your nebula thousands of years ago by the things they left behind… i found it entertaining and engaging! 😜

  6. Love that you’re videos are starting to get better and better, even if they were already amazing from the beginning?

    On a side note, can anyone help me with figuring out the approximate number of villages there’d most likely be for one of the countries in my conworld? It seems to me Zipf’s Law helps significantly in terms of population distribution, but not in terms of the total number of settlements and cities.

  7. Zipf's law often works at the top of the list, but it tends to break down at the bottom. There are far fewer small towns (<10,000) compared with larger cities than Zipf's law would predict, possibly because of economies of scale. See for example www.nlc.org/number-of-municipal-governments-population-distribution for statistics on the United States. (Of course, it might be different for pre-industrial societies.)

  8. The <100 people villages are “just a few houses standing aroundin the middle of the wilderness” implying that the larger villages have a more complex layout? What other elements might they have?

  9. I’m not totally sure why Bird Island is my favourite, but I always get so excited when you make another video on it!
    Like, I genuinely cried with joy when I saw it on the map of the River Basin planet bc I hadn’t thought it would’ve survived the de-eggifying.
    I mean it probably didn’t survive completely unscathed, all that tectonic shifting probably caused earthquakes and tsunamis and things, but hopefully the culture and biodiversity wasn’t completely wiped out

  10. If the River basin and the island of both on the same planets does that River basin can do the same Magic or is it not Universal and only works in certain places like the magic creature under them. If that is the case other things you can do with the universal or do they have completely different rules. Or is it exclusive to the island.

  11. You should've put the smallest and last of the villages in the middle of the island! That way it could be the smallest and most isolated village, the ultimate country bumpkin hamlet. 🙂

  12. The funny thing is, despite seeming actually crammed with villages, this is an island the size of *Estonia*. Therefore, the population density is around one person per 2 square kilometers. For reference, the population density of Mongolia is 1.9; making it nearly 40x as densely populated as this island. Crazy, these people are actually extremely scattered when you think about it. You might travel a full day along the river and maybe reach only a single village with 60 people in it. I could totally see multiple different cultures on this island sprout up as a result, seeing as those outside of direct river systems would be incredibly isolated from one another. Love these videos, this project especially seems to have the science behind it to really come together well.

  13. I was wondering about the small population sizes for the smaller villages, how that population would avoid inbreeding and such, but then I remembered that they literally reproduced asexually through magical eggs so it isn't as important
    Does this video mean we'll be getting more of the bird island??

  14. I like that the upland areas have smaller populations than lowland areas because less arable land means less people can be supported

  15. Zipfs law: exists

    UK: oi wots dat.

    Seriously London and Manchester completely ignores that lol, with Manchester being 3 times smaller, I think the World builders who came up with the UK completely messed up.

    edit: just realised Birmingham is the 2nd largest city in the UK, but the fact still stands.

  16. It looks like you have this remote region below village 79. I don’t want to tell you how to make your conworld, but I think it would be cool if you wade that area religiously cursed for some reason.

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