Urbanization is a defined by the United Nations as the movement of people from rural to urban areas. The UN projected at least half of the world's population would be living in urban areas by the end of 2008. The underlying explanation for urbanization involves changing employment opportunities as structural change takes place in the economy. The report predicted August 16 2008 would ...
Urbanization is a defined by the United Nations as the movement of people from rural to urban areas. The UN projected at least half of the world's population would be living in urban areas by the end of 2008. The underlying explanation for urbanization involves changing employment opportunities as structural change takes place in the economy. The report predicted August 16 2008 would be the day when the shift in where the world's population lived would change from the majority dwelling in rural areas to urban metropolises. It was further forecast the figure would rise to 70 percent by 2050.
The data also predicted the trend of urbanization would continue into the future, eventually leading to the creation of 27 "megacities" with at least a 10 million population by mid-century, compared to 19 today. But the UN's report also suggests at least half the urban growth in the coming decades will be in many smaller cities with less than 500,000 residents.
It was estimated in 2006, only Tokyo qualified as a "hyper city" but the greater city areas of Mumbai, Lagos, Dhaka and Sao Paulo will also surpass 20-million by 2015, according to UN projections.
The trend of urbanization could first be seen first in some Western countries in the second half on the 19th century. The United Kingdom was the first country to become urbanized, with 50 percent of its population living in urbanized areas by 1851. Australia became urbanized by 1901, Germany in 1910, and the United States by 1918.
Eastern countries such as Japan, some Gulf states, and some Latin American countries have been predominantly urban since the middle of the 20th century. But it took most of the Asian and African countries until the turn of the 21st century to become urbanized. It has been predicted China, the world's most populated nation and where 40 percent of the population live in an urban area, will see urbanization increase to 70 percent by 2050. In contrast, only 29 percent of residents in the world's second biggest country, India, live in an urban area although this is expected to expand to 55 percent by 2050.
Urbanization is often viewed as a negative trend, with many poor people moving to cities in search of work. Those who are unsuccessful can easily slip into the underworld of the city, living hand-to-mouth in dangerous slums, far from family support with problems such as cramped living spaces, higher costs, long commutes and often more crime and pollution also being prevalent. This led the UN to warn that people who live in slums suffer as much as the rural poor.
There have also been worries about the effects of urbanization on the environment, with communities facing universal issues including the loss of wildlife, climate change and increased air pollution. This was a particular problem for metropolises like Shanghai, Jakarta and Mexico City in the 1990s. On the flip side, urbanization was credited with bringing better health, literacy and wealth. Some people move to areas of urbanization to experience living in a cultural melting pot, greater opportunities to take part in social activities or to live in centers of power and innovation.
There are two measures involved in working out how urbanized a country's population is. The first is the percentage of the total population living in urban areas. The second is the rate of urbanization which describes the projected average rate of change of the size of the population over a given time period.
Figures from the CIA World Fact book revealed 100 percent of Singapore residents live in urban areas and it has an urbanization rate of 1.2 percent. Nauru is the world's second most urbanized country, with 100 percent of residents living in urban areas and a 0.3 percent rate of urbanization. The principality of Monaco and the Chinese regions of Macau and Hong Kong share the title of the third most urbanized areas in the world. The United Kingdom is 15th, with 90 percent of the population living in areas of urbanization and a rate of 0.5 percent growth in urbanization. The United States ranks 28th on the list, with 82 percent of the population living in areas of urbanization with a growth rate of 1.3 percent.
Burundi ranks bottom of the table with just ten percent of their population living in urbanized areas, with a rate of urban growth of 6.8 percent.