Why does Egypt look different than the rest of northern Africa in the population count and density rasters?

In Egypt, we used input data at the district level from the 2006 Population Census. Egypt’s administrative boundaries separate populated areas from the surrounding uninhabited desert areas.

If you look at the Data Context layer in the Data Quality Indicators data set, you can see that all the pixels in Egypt with zero population count or population density are coded as ‘Uninhabited’.
 
While many neighboring countries release census data at a similar resolution, they do not separate uninhabited areas from populated areas. These large administrative units smooth out the population across the entire unit, resulting in population counts and densities that are very low, but are not zero.

Therefore, because the census boundaries for Egypt explicitly include large units with zero population, it appears quite different in the population count and density rasters than in the rest of northern Africa.

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