In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of humanity was living in urban areas. Perhaps the most remarkable observation about this trend is the speed at which it has happened: as recently as 1900 urban areas accounted for 13% of the global population. Towns and cities are seen as the crucibles of opportunity for many rural dwellers.
The UN estimates that by 2030 urban areas will host 60% of the world’s population – up from 54.5% in 2016 – with the pace of urban growth especially rapid across Africa and parts of Asia. Urban areas are home to more than 470m people in Africa, accounting for 40% of the continent’s population, up from 14% in the middle of the 20th century.
In 2016 there were 512 cities around the world with at least 1m inhabitants, more than 100 of which were in China. By 2030 this number is set to increase to 660, with around 40 being categorised as mega-cities home to more than 10m inhabitants, including Bogotá, Bangkok, Dar es Salaam and Ho Chi Minh City.