Number of people in Tahrir Square in the 1 Million March (More like 50,000?)

February 1, 2011

UPDATE 6-feb: Initially I calculated there could not be more than 50,000 protesters at a given time. However it could be feasible with the adjacent areas that there were up to 200,000. A friend told me about this better picture, than the one I used in the original post below See picture 44.
UPDATE 15-feb: Please read the comments. Special attention to Adham, GeoCom and NooNoo.


An interruption from my normal posts in this blog, to show how a little geographical concepts can help.

Social network software and media are discussing the amount of people who met today for the 1 Million people protest in Cairo, Egypt. Al Jazeera reports that there is “More than a million gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square”. New York Times says “Hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square on Tuesday demanded the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak”. Haaretz mentions “At least one million in Egypt take to the streets to call for Mubarak’s ouster”. Fox News says “An estimated 250,000 Egyptians mass in the heart of Cairo”. Le Monde talks about 200,000. All the media I quickly checked agree that there are hundreds of thousands.

Indeed, we can see the massive amount of people in the square, surrounded by military checkpoints.

Well, I have to be a bubble buster or arrogant. But I can not believe there are in Tahrir Square more than 50,000. I’m an economic geographer, more economist than geographer, so I know some basic geographic tools. Ok, ok, Google Planimeter can be hardly classified as a geographic information science… So the calculation it’s a rough estimate (with all the caveats of google maps and planimeter).

That is an area of 31,890 square meters.

If we generously put 1 person for each square meter, then we would have 32,000 people. 2 people per square meter would be extremely dense and not likely according to the pictures. Still that would be 65,000.

Perhaps what Japan Today reported “More than 10,000 people beat drums, played music and chanted slogans in Tahrir Square”, maybe closer than the Western and Middle Eastern media. (I never though one could put all of them together).

Wow! right now a Top Tweet in Twitter (this means massively repeated) is “army has estimated number of protesters at entrance of tahrir at 2 million #jan25“.

If the media buys it, we would have this amount of people, and the history books will say it too. If you read this post, you could tell your grandchildren, that maybe there were not so many people.

Image from Twitter. Who said social media would bring us transparent numbers?

But before posting this. 2 postscripts:

p.s. My heart is with the people of Egypt. I mourn the 300 people killed these last days (according to the UN) and the thousands imprisoned in harsh conditions. I hope that there are free elections in the near future and transparency emerges. In Spain we had to wait 40 years for dictator Franco to die. Many believed another Civil War could erupt back then in 1975, but there was a peaceful transition.

p.s.2 I would believe, though, there could have been 1 million, and even 2 million people protesting all around Egypt today. But not in the Tahrir Square.

p.s. (30 Nov 2011). In Spain democracy came after Franco died, because of 3 things, not necessarily in order. a) international support, b) intelligent nationalistic and communists to agree to accept mainstream democracy (including accepting the King appointed by Franco), c) brave militaries to accept mainstream democracy.

14 Responses to “Number of people in Tahrir Square in the 1 Million March (More like 50,000?)”

  1. amro Says:

    You just calculated at tahrir’s square area….You missed the count at el sherif street and downtown area and kasr el nil bridge and salah salem

    • carlos9900 Says:

      Thank you Amro. It seems you know the area. I don’t know it and probably I’m missing some, and I’m relying in some photos from the media that may not be the best. Besides reports suggest that many could not enter or prefer to stay in the adjacent areas. Also this morning I watched some images that could indicate a higher density than 1 person per square meter. So today Friday, there could be easily more than 100,000 people.

    • Hala Says:

      if u were there u would have known because people call all area around tahrir square including the surrounding squares as medan ta7rir, I think u r not egyptian if u were, it would have made a big fat huge difference.

  2. remy Says:

    Carlos, I´m journalist, but I was thinking about the same thing as you did. People can be massed three or four per sq meter, but never everywhere. So the medium estimate is two on a sq meter, and as we see on the picture, there’s a huge construction site on the square. Even with the streets around, no more than 60.000 to 100.000 people are gathered there in the best days. I have seen many demonstrations in other countries, so I now that organizers are always exagerating. Neverless I support the Egyptians in their fight. Salem!

  3. halimam Says:

    control the number of participants by the barages of the army and the fear
    Therefore participants are those who have defied a real risk
    and that’s huge

  4. carlos9900 Says:

    Absolutely. We all admire the courage of these thousands of people (hundreds of thousands over these last 10 days) in this police state.

  5. […] Será que havia um milhão de pessoas na Praça Tahrir, no Cairo? Este artigo desmonta a propaganda dos me(r)dia. […]

  6. Ahmed Says:

    this is a great job
    mass of protesters in the day of 1 million march has expanded in the street of talaat harb and reached the square of talaat harb so the estimation that is based only on the geography of only tahrir square is not enough
    the picture we saw of this mass to be just in tahrir square is real but when the numbers of protesters reduced so their area shrinked to be more safe
    that is my opinion

  7. adham Says:

    hi. good point but the boundaries are extremely in accurate, i used the tool @ this website
    and pin pointed the exact boundries here :

    where the army set gates and roadblocks and the area turned out to be around double of what you calculated (64659m2) so that should ouput around 120,000 person in Tahrir alone, not to mention the surrounding streets as mentioned by Amro. my personal guess would be all in all 250,000 , 5 times your est. still not million though !

  8. Geocom Says:


    From day one of the protests in Tahrir Square, I’ve been sending my friends a google earth pro map that shows results similar to yours. I deal with large crowds for a living, and, for a large outdoor event, the standard we apply in the U.S. is no more than 2.5 square feet per person–and that’s when people are crammed shoulder to shoulder. Depending on how I define the crowd area, I get roughly 275,000 to 375,000 square feet–the latter being quite generous. So, at most, the square can accommodate roughly 150,000; but based on photos of the square, the number probably does not exceed 80,000 to 90,000 people.

    This is not a small issue. There is a big difference between two million people turning out in protest, and a crowd that is little larger than the latest Egypt vs. Jordan football match. If governments are going to be toppled, accuracy in media cannot be the first to fall.

  9. NooNoo Says:

    You are right, Tahrir itself can only hold 150-250 thousand. However the MARCHES on Fridays are different. Cairo is the biggest city in Africa and middle east with a population of about 15-20 million. people marched from all around Cairo to the tahrir. I live in a Cairo suburb called NasrCity that’s far from tahrir. My brother and his friends from around joined the marches at noon and 5 hours later he reached Ramses street which was still very far from the tahrir and decided he should turn back if he wants to make it home before midnight . He never really got to tahrir on friday. According to him, the main streets were always packed all the way beyond sight. So, the march is different from the stand.
    however, to be truthful, the power wasn’t so much a power of number as it was a power of chaos and holding the tahrir hostage. This is a strategic place to Cairo’s central traffic. if u shut down tahrir with even one person u shut down downtown Cairo. U shutdown downtown Cairo and the whole world leaves everything at hand and starts paying attention!!!!! I dont know if there is a logic to that or not, but thats wut happened. It just happened!!!

  10. NooNoo Says:

    by the way, after lookin at boundaries u put on the map again… wut we call “tahrir” is actually double that area!!!

  11. […] قريت نوت عن إن الأعداد أقصاها تكون وصلت لربع مليون بس Number of people in Tahrir Square in the 1 Million March (More like 50,000?) __________________ I've seen what I was – I know what I'll be I've seen it all – there is no more […]

  12. Anonymous Says:

    cos omak

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