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    For information only - not an official document.
    Press Release No:  UNIS/POP/29
    Release Date:  27 March 2000
     World Population Growth Will Occur in Urban Areas
    Of World, United Nations Report States
     

    NEW YORK, 23 March (DESA) -- Virtually all population growth from now until 2030 will be concentrated in the urban areas of the world.  By 2007, the number of urban dwellers is also expected to exceed the number of rural dwellers for the first time in history.

    Those data are part of the 1999 Revision of the United Nations official estimates and projections of urban, rural and city populations, just released by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  First results have been issued in two wall charts:  Urban and Rural Areas, 1999 (ST/ESA/SER.A/185) and Urban Agglomerations, 1999 (ST/ESA/SER.A/184). 

    Major findings of the study are:

    -- the world is expected to reach 50 per cent urban for the first time in history in 2007.  In 2000, 2.9 billion people live in urban areas, comprising 47 per cent of the world population.  By 2030, 4.9 billion are expected to live in urban areas, or 60 per cent of the world.

    -- virtually all the population growth expected from 2000 to 2030 will be concentrated in the urban areas of the world.  During that period, the urban population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons, the same number that will be added to the whole population of the world.

     -- most of the population increase expected during 2000-2030 will be absorbed by the urban areas of the less developed regions.  The urban population of the less developed regions will probably rise from 1.9 billion in 2000 to 3.9 billion in 2030. 

    -- in 1995-2000, the world’s urban population grew at a rate of 2.1 per cent per year.  During 2000-2030, it will grow at an average annual rate of 1.8 per cent.  At that rate of growth, the world’s urban population will double in 38 years.

    -- the urban growth rate of less developed regions reached 2.9 per cent per year in 1995-2000, compared to 0.6 per cent in more developed regions.  The urban growth rate will continue to be particularly rapid in urban areas of less developed regions, averaging 2.3 per cent per year during 2000-2030, consistent with a doubling time of 30 years. 

    -- in contrast, the rural population of the less developed regions is expected to grow very slowly, at just 0.1 per cent per year during 2000-2030.  The world rural population will remain nearly stable during 2000-2030, varying between 3.2 billion and 3.3 billion.

    -- the process of urbanization is already very advanced in the more developed regions, where 76 per cent of the population lives in urban areas.  Nevertheless, the concentration of population in cities is expected to continue, so that, by 2030, 84 per cent of the inhabitants of more developed countries will be urban dwellers.

    -- the level of urbanization is considerably lower in less developed regions, where just 40 per cent of the population lives today in urban areas.  This proportion is expected to rise to 56 per cent by 2030.

    -- there are marked differences in the level and pace of urbanization among the major areas constituting the less developed regions.  Latin America and the Caribbean are highly urbanized, with 75 per cent of the population living in cities in 2000.  Asia and Africa are considerably less urbanized, with 37 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, of their populations living in urban areas.  Being less urbanized, Africa and Asia are expected to experience rapid rates of urbanization during 2000-2030.  Consequently, by 2030, 55 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively, of their inhabitants will live in urban areas.  At that time, 83 per cent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean will be urban.

    -- in Europe and North America, the percentage of the population living in urban areas is expected to rise from 75 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively, in 2000, to 83 per cent and 84 per cent in 2030.  The increase in Oceania is likely to be smaller, from 70 per cent in 2000 to 74 per cent in 2030.

    -- the proportion of people living in very large urban agglomerations is still small.  In 2000, 4.3 per cent of the world population lived in cities of 10 million inhabitants or more and by 2015 that proportion will rise to 5.2 per cent.

    -- in 2000, it is estimated that 28.5 per cent of the world population will reside in small cities of less than a million inhabitants.  By 2015, that proportion will probably rise to 30.6 per cent.  In 2000, 48 per cent of the population in developed countries lived in cities of less than 1 million inhabitants and by 2015 that proportion is expected to rise to 49 per cent.  In less developed regions, where most of the population still lives in rural areas, the proportion of people living in small cities is 24 per cent currently and will rise to 27 per cent by 2015. 

    -- large urban agglomerations do not necessarily experience fast population growth.  In fact, some of the fastest growing cities have small populations and, as population size increases, the growth rate of a city’s population tends to decline.

    -- Tokyo is the largest urban agglomeration in the world, with 26.4 million residents, and is expected to remain the largest, although its population will not grow.  It is followed by Mexico City, Bombay, São Paulo and New York. 

    The 1999 Revision presents estimates and projections of the number of people living in the urban and rural areas of the countries of the world for the period 1950-2030.  It also provides estimates and projections for the period 1950-2015 of the population living in urban agglomerations.  In addition to the wall charts, forthcoming publications will provide detailed data tables and expanded analyses of the results.

    Further information may be obtained from the office of Joseph Chamie, Director, Population Division, United Nations, New York, NY, 10017, USA. Tel. (212) 963-3179. Fax (212) 963-2147.

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