Harry Potter World Building

Recently JK Rowling updated some tidbits on what the other wizarding worlds are like. I would say that JK Rowling is a great writer. However, her world building skills leave a lot to be desired. There are some issues about her elaborating more in magical worlds in international locations other than Great Britain and Ireland. The main issue would be the inconsistencies within in her universe and between her universe and our universe, leading to inadequate representation of international worlds in real life.

Mathematically Inconsistent Populations
There is the matter of the wizarding population based on JK Rowling’s assertions. According to her, there are about 600 – 1,000 students at Hogwarts at a given time. Her estimate of the total wizarding population in the UK is 3,000. 3,000 would be too low of a number for the student ratio and not enough to create a functional wizarding society in Great Britain.
To determine the demographics of wizarding population we make these assumptions.
  1. Great Britain age breakdown in the muggle population will be similar to that of wizarding population except for the 100 years + bracket.
  2. The estimation is based on 2013 data, both the breakdown by age and total population (couldn’t find data for any other year)
  3. The population breakdown in 2013 would be similar to the breakdown in previous and later years.
UK 2014 age

The Muggle % of population in the age group of 10 to 18 years would be 10.2 %. If we are going to apply the % to 1,000 total number of Hogwarts students, then we would have about the minimum of 9,804 wizards in GB. This would clearly be over her 3,000 estimate. Of the total population in GB, the percentage of wizarding population would make up of about 0.0157 %.

Note, the numbers are not definite since they are estimates based on the data I was able to find.

Wizarding Schools in Asia, Middle East, and Egypt

As JK Rowling stated that the wizard / muggle ratio is the same everywhere else, extrapolating this data, we would have about 1,118,625 wizards in the world based on the total population of 7,125,000,000 in 2013.

Since there are 11 established wizarding schools in the world, the population of Asian wizards would be significant in the discussion. There is one confirmed school in Asia and that is Mahoutokoro, which is in Japan. Why would Mahoutoko have the smallest student body of the 11 schools if the total wizarding population would be about 19,986, which would be higher than GB’s 9,804? Even if the student body is 599, it would be still a stretch.

Also, why is it that China and India with the largest populations in the world and two of the four oldest civilizations don’t seem to have established wizarding schools? There would be about 213,049 wizards in China and 196,564 wizards in India. Due to the populations, China and India would likely have more than one established wizarding schools within each of the nations. It is also unlikely that all adult wizards in those countries opted for the apprenticeship model for their children and unlikely that both countries never established any esteemed schools in their long years of history. This is also the problem with the middle east, in which the cradle of civilization originated, and Egypt. If there had been esteemed schools in those locations, did the schools got destroyed recently? Did ISIS bombed the wizarding schools in middle east (sarcasm)?

ISIS Dark Lord

Overgeneralization

As Uagadou is a school in Africa, what languages would they instruct in? Since there are thousands of languages in Africa, how do they pick which ones are standard in Uagadou? Do wizards have a higher ability to learn languages? Africa is a diverse continent, not a country. The countries in Africa are seriously varied, with the world’s 20 most ethnically diverse countries are all African.

On another topic, North American history was revealed recently. The main issue seems to be the concept of skin walkers in the Harry Potter universe. The belief in skin walkers is mainly from Navajo, which doesn’t represent all Native American beliefs and tribes.

With her depiction of other worlds, it would be equally ridiculous had the whole European continent be based on only UK traditions and customs.

Overall, there is a quite mishandling in representing the diversity in other cultures. Africa shouldn’t be treated as one country when it is more diverse than Europe, which has three wizarding schools. Associating skin walkers to all Native American tribes  has also the negative implication of seeing all of the tribes as the same. Seriously, it shouldn’t be hard to hire some cultural consultants for the world building.

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