Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



The famous “Hu Line”, proposed by Hu Huanyong in 1935, divided China into two regions of comparable area sizes that drastically differ in population: about 4% in the northwest part and 96% in the southeast. However, the Hu Line was proposed largely by visual examination of hand-made maps and arduous experiments of numerous configurations, and has been subject to criticism of lack of scientific rigor and accuracy. Furthermore, it has been over eight decades since the Hu Line was proposed. During the time, China sustained several major man-made and natural disasters (e.g., the World War II, the subsequent Civil War and the 1958-62 Great Famine), and also experienced some major government-sponsored migrations, economic growth and unprecedented urbanization. It is necessary to revisit the (in) stability of Hu Line. By using a GIS-automated regionalization method, termed REDCAP (Regionalization with Dynamically Constrained Agglomerative Clustering and Partitioning), this study re-visits the Hu Line in three aspects. First, by reconstructing the demarcation line based on the latest census of 2010 county-level population by REDCAP, this study largely validates and refines the classic Hu Line. Secondly, this research also seeks to uncover the underlying physical environment factors that shape such a contrast by proposing a habitation environment suitability index (HESI) model. In the third part, this study examines the population density change and disparity change over time by using all the six censuses (1953, 1964, 1982, 1990, 2000, and 2010) since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. This study advances the methodological rigor in defining the Hu Line, solidifies the inherent connection between physical environment and population settlement, and strengthens the findings by extending the analysis across time epochs.



Committee Chair