Not sure about which servers being dominated by certain regions, but the ones with the highest populations show up at the bottom of the server list with 3 chocobos. Selbina, Gysahl, Figaro & Mysidia should be in that group I think. Sometimes even on the crowded servers people are pretty quiet in this game though.
As for equipment, the game isn't extremely friendly on new players. NPC prices get crazy and most players will focus on selling more profitable gears. That means tons of high rank stuff available and lower rank gear becomes rare & often overpriced. To somewhat make up for that you can get by easily without being properly equipped early on. You level up so quickly in the beginning that sometimes I would suggest passing on overpriced equipment you'll soon want replaced anyway.(Normally I wouldn't give advice that promotes half-assing, but you can get away with it early on)
I'd suggest the database here for looking up equipment and finding what you need. It also lets you know if an NPC sells it, where they're at, and for how much. Quite useful. You might find the guides on here helpful as well. http://ffxiv.zam.com/en/itemlist.html http://ffxiv.zam.com/wiki/Category:Guides_%28FFXIV%29
Also, it seems rough at first because you don't make much gil on the opening leves & such, but as you move to higher ranks it becomes much easier to make gil. Edited, May 19th 2011 9:06pm by TwistedOwl