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How Has the World's Urban Population Changed over Time?

About half of the world's population now lives in cities, up from about one-third in the 1960s. Today's percentage translates to about 4 billion people, and the percentage is expected to increase by 10 percentage points by 2060. The United Nations estimated that in 2007, the urban population was higher than the rural population for the first time in history.

More facts about urbanization:

  • The most urbanized countries in the world are Hong Kong, Monaco, Nauru, Singapore and the Vatican, all of which are considered to be 100 percent urban. Rwanda, Bhutan, Burundi, Nepal and Uganda are considered the least urbanized countries in the world.

  • In 1800, only about 3 percent of the world's population lived in cities, and in 1900, there were only 12 cities that had more than 1 million inhabitants. By 2005, there were more than 300 cities with at least that many people.

  • Almost all future urbanization is expected to occur in developing nations, especially those in Asia and Africa.

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