In 1950, less than 20 percent of Africans lived in cities, that number has increased to 43 percent for 2020. Image: Unsplash/Son Vu Le
Explore and monitor how Cities and Urbanization is affecting economies, industries and global issues
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:
Cities and Urbanization
- To celebrate Cities Day, the U.N. has revealed the change in those living in urban areas, from 1950 to 2020.
- 56.2% of the global population now lives in cities.
- The biggest change has been in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 81.2% of the population living in urban areas, up from 41.3% in 1950.
The U.N. celebrated Cities Day on 31st October to bring a focus to urbanization. Data from its own Population Division shows where in the world urban populations are growing fastest. Africa and Asia – which already have urban populations bigger in total than those in Europe, Latin America or North America – have been increasing their share of urban dwellers most in the last 70 years.
While in 1950, less than 20 percent of Africans and Asians lived in cities, that number had increased to 43 percent and 51 percent, respectively, by 2020 South America also increased urban populations majorly during the same time period, arriving at an urban population share of more than 80 percent – higher than that of Europe.
Urban populations made up the highest share in Northern American countries – 83.6 percent of residents lived in cities in 2020.
Overall, more people in the world live in urban than in rural setting since 2010. In 2020, 56.2 percent of the world population was urban. Half of these people lived in towns of less than 500,000 inhabitants.
Don't miss any update on this topic
Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.
License and Republishing
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
More on Cities and UrbanizationSee all
February 22, 2024
February 15, 2024
Takashima Soichiro and Nona Yehia
February 14, 2024
Ann Aerts and Diana Rodríguez Franco
February 12, 2024
February 7, 2024
Nicholas D. Evans and Ibrahim S. Odeh
February 6, 2024