Monday, June 21, 2010


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I am not now nor have I ever been a numbers person. Oh, I am not phobic and I can do the necessary arithmetic for groceries, knitting pattern adjustments and converting Centigrade to Fahrenheit and so on, but given my preference, I'd estimate or rely on a quantitative assessment that was more of a summary--"too much" "too big" "too little" etc. More than that is just well, details. And I tend not to be fond of details unless they get swept up in one of my big ideas.

An aversion to details and numbers is going to be very hard to avoid in describing why or how Northern Loops is going to be successful. So rather than the poetic description I have used of the relative density of Caithness and Sutherland--more sheep than people, then more rocks than sheep is a perfectly good description of population density of the Caithness-Sutherland area. In its own way, it sums up perfectly the situation. However, in an attempt to be more quantitative, I found myself looking up the population density of Caithness-Sutherland. The 1999 statistics gave a population density for the two counties of 5 inhabitants per square kilometer. I assumed they were not counting sheep in their total. And I was chuffed, although not surprised, to discover that gives us the honour of being "one of the least densely populated areas of Europe." I'll check the numbers in a minute, but my hunch is that puts us in the running with places like North Dakota.

One of my other concerns about saying 5 inhabitants per square kilometer is that when I say something I want to be certain that it is precise. Estimates and numeric hunches carry with them enough wiggle room to allow me to be certain of the veracity of the statement. So in keeping with that honesty, I want to add here a disclaimer. If you calculate the population density of Caithness alone, it is more like 14 inhabitants per square kilometer.

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