The last six decades have been a period of rapid urbanisation. More than half of the world’s population now live in cities and towns, compared to just over a third in 1955, and that figure is expected to grow to two-thirds by 2050, meaning a projected additional 2.5 billion people living in urban areas.
At the moment around half of all urban citizens live in cities of less than 500,000 inhabitants. Only one in eight live in one of the world’s 28 “mega-cities”, i.e. cities with a population of more than 10 million people. From 1950 to 1960, 60% of the growth of mega-cities was in the developing world. Between 2000 and 2010, the developing world accounted for 90%. Out of the 28 biggest cities on Earth, only six are in the advanced economies.
The profile of the world’s largest cities has changed dramatically over the past 60 years, as revealed in these charts based on United Nations data from the 2014 revision of the World Urbanization Prospects report. The two illustrations speaks for themselves.