Ten urbanization statistics

Population growth and rapid urbanization mean we need to create the equivalent of one new city of one million people every 5 days between now and  2050. Ref.

Ten referenced statistics on urbanization

  1. Global urban population: 3.5 billion.
  2. In 2008, civilisation crossed a landmark: half the global population now living in urban areas. Fifty years ago it was 30%. A century ago it was 10%.
  3. In 1800, Beijing was the only city with a population of one million or greater. By 1900, 16 cities had reached this figure. By 2000, it was 378 cities. By 2025, there will be about 600 cities of one million or more worldwide.
  4. By 2030, the world’s urban population is expected to hit five billion. By 2100, an additional three-to-five billion people will live in cities (creating an urban population of 6.4-8.4 billion people).
  5. China has the highest rates or urban expansion. Annual rates of urban land expansion vary from 13.3% for coastal areas to 3.9% for the western regions.
  6. In 2010, 33% of the urban population in developing regions lived in slums. Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest slum population, 199.5 million (61.7%) people, followed by Southern Asia with 190.7 million (35%).
  7. By 1950, the New York City metropolitan area became the first urban area to reach a population of 10 million. In 1962 Tokyo was the first city to have a population of 10 million. Today there are 19 urban agglomerations with populations of 10 million or more.
  8. Tokyo is the world’s largest city with the population in the Tokyo-Yokohama area hitting 36.7 million. The urban extent of Tokyo-Yokohama covers 13,500 km² , an area bigger than Jamaica (11,000 km² ). Tokyo  accounts for almost 2% of the world’s GDP.
  9. Global urbanization is following the blueprint of North American cities, but faster and at larger scales. These trends are most evident in developing countries.
  10. Urban areas in low-lying coastal zones are growing faster than elsewhere. Inadequate responses to protecting coastal urban areas from climate change will be devastating to the economies and infrastructure of 13 percent of the world’s urban population.


1 UNEP Keeping track of our changing environment (2011)

2, 3, 7. United Nations. 2008. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision. New York: United Nations 

4 Michail Fragkias, Karen C Seto 2011. The rise and rise of urban expansion. IGBP Global Change.

Karen C Seto et al. 2010. The New Geography of Contemporary Urbanization and the Environment. Annual Review Environmental Resources

6. UN Millennium Development Goals 2011 Report. UN Habitat State of the World’s Cities

8  Karen C Seto et al. 2010. The New Geography of Contemporary Urbanization and the Environment. Annual Review Environmental Resources and UNEP Keeping track of our changing environment (2011) and UN Habitat State of the World’s Cities (Tokyo GDP).

9. McGranahan G, Balk D, Anderson B 2007. The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones. Environment and Urbanization 19: 17–37.

10. Karen C. Seto et al. 2011. A Meta-Analysis of Global Urban Land Expansion. PloS ONE.

One thought on “Ten urbanization statistics

  1. Hello, I do believe your website may be having browser compatibility issues.
    Whenever I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from
    that, wonderful blog!


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s