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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Urban growth: Facts and figures
The world is steadily becoming more urbanised, as the pace of growth of urban populations far outpaces world population growth. Some time in the next year, the proportion of the human race living in cities is projected to cross the 50% threshold. Explore the key facts and figures about urbanisation.

  • In 1955, there were 732m urban dwellers making up 29% of the world's population. In 2015 there will be 3.8bn, making up 53% of the world's population.

  • Urban growth worldwide was at its fastest in the mid 20th Century, slowing gradually as more and more parts of the world have made the shift from being predominantly rural to predominantly urban.

  • Africa has consistently been the region with the highest rate of urban growth since 1955, although the percentage of its population (38% in 2005) living in cities is smaller than that in any other major region.

  • Latin America and the Caribbean urbanised early, only a little behind the rich countries of Europe and North America. The region crossed the 50% urban threshold in the 1960s. In 2005, 77% of its population were urban dwellers, more than 72% of Europeans who lived in cities.

  • Although Asian growth rates are slowing, the volume of people being added to the region's urban population each year is vast. In 1960, with only 22% of its population urbanised, Asia overtook Europe in terms of numbers of urban dwellers. In 2015, Asia will have more urban dwellers than the rest of the world put together, even with only 45 % of its population urbanised.

    World cities over 5 million (1950 - 2015)
    Populations shown in millions
    City Country 1950 1980 2005 2015
    Tokyo Japan 11.3 28.5 35.2 35.5
    Bombay India 8.7 18.2 21.9
    Mexico City Mexico 13.0 19.4 21.6
    Sao Paulo Brazil 12.1 18.3 20.5
    New York US 12.3 15.6 18.7 19.9
    Delhi India 5.6 15.0 18.6
    Shanghai China 6.1 7.6 14.5 17.2
    Calcutta India 9.0 14.3 17.0
    Dhaka Bangladesh 12.4 16.8
    Jakarta Indonesia 6.0 13.2 16.8
    Lagos Nigeria 10.9 16.1
    Karachi Pakistan 5.0 11.6 15.2
    Buenos Aires Argentina 5.1 9.4 12.6 13.4
    Cairo Egypt 7.3 11.1 13.1
    Los Angeles US 9.5 12.3 13.1
    Manila Philippines 6.0 10.7 12.9
    Beijing China 6.4 10.7 12.9
    Rio de Janeiro Brazil 8.6 11.5 12.8
    Osaka-Kobe Japan 10.0 11.3 11.3
    Istanbul Turkey 9.7 11.2
    Moscow Moscow 5.4 8.1 10.7 11.0
    Guangzhou China 8.4 10.4
    Paris France 5.4 8.9 9.8 9.9
    Seoul South Korea 8.3 9.6 9.5
    Chicago US 7.2 8.8 9.5
    Kinshasa DR Congo 6.0 9.3
    Shenzhen China 7.2 9.0
    Bogota Colombia 7.7 8.9
    London UK 8.4 7.7 8.5 8.6
    Tehran Iran 5.1 7.3 8.4
    Madras India 6.9 8.3
    Lahore Pakistan 6.3 8.3
    Wuhan China 7.1 8.2
    Tianjin China 5.2 7.0 8.1
    Lima Peru 7.2 8.0
    Bangalore India 6.5 7.9
    Hong Kong China 7.0 7.8
    Bangkok Thailand 6.6 7.4
    Hyderabad India 6.1 7.4
    Chongqing China 6.4 7.3
    Baghdad Iraq 5.9 7.2
    Ho Chi Minh Vietnam 5.1 6.4
    Belo Horizonte Brazil 5.3 6.4
    Ahmadabad India 5.1 6.3
    Santiago Chile 5.7 6.2
    Madrid Spain 5.6 6.1
    Khartoum Sudan 6.0
    Miami US 5.4 5.9
    Toronto Canada 5.3 5.9
    Philadelphia US 5.4 5.8
    Chittagong Bangladesh 5.7
    Pune India 5.5
    Riyadh Saudi Arabia 5.4
    Shenyang China 5.4
    St Petersburg Russia 5.3 5.4
    Dongguan China 5.4
    Bandung Indonesia 5.3
    Hanoi Vietnam 5.3
    Rangoon Burma 5.2
    Dallas US 5.1
    Barcelona Spain 5.1
    Source: UN DESA (2005)






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