We present examples to show that people and economic activities are unevenly distributed across space. The variations in density result in strong agglomeration in some important centres. We briefly analyse urban development and illustrate ‘spikiness’ at different spatial scales (global regions, countries, provinces, and counties). We also show that the distribution across space is not random but often displays a remarkably stable and uniform pattern across time and for various levels of geographical aggregation. These observations suggest that similar spatial economic forces are relevant for explaining agglomeration and the regularities of distribution and interaction across space.