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In this paper, we investigate the theoretical aspects of the nonuniform node distribution strategy used to mitigate the energy hole problem in wireless sensor networks (WSNs). We conclude that in a circular multihop sensor network (modeled as concentric coronas) with nonuniform node distribution and constant data reporting, the unbalanced energy depletion among all the nodes in the network is unavoidable. Even if the nodes in the inner coronas of the network have used up their energy simultaneously, the ones in the outermost corona may still have unused energy. This is due to the intrinsic many-to-one traffic pattern of WSNs. Nevertheless, nearly balanced energy depletion in the network is possible if the number of nodes increases in geometric progression from the outer coronas to the inner ones except the outermost one. Based on the analysis, we propose a novel nonuniform node distribution strategy to achieve nearly balanced energy depletion in the network. We regulate the number of nodes in each corona and derive the ratio between the node densities in the adjacent (i + 1)th and ith coronas by the strategy. Finally, we propose (q-switch routing, a distributed shortest path routing algorithm tailored for the proposed nonuniform node distribution strategy. Extensive simulations have been performed to validate the analysis.