The world has been urbanizing rapidly in recent decades. In 1950, only 30 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas, a proportion that grew to 55 percent by 2018. The global urbanization rate masks important differences in urbanization levels across geographic regions.
Northern America is the most urbanized region, with 82 percent of its population residing in urban areas, whereas Asia is approximately 50 percent urban, and Africa remains mostly rural with 43 percent of its population living in urban areas in 2018 (United Nations, 2018).
The maps below show the share of the population which live in urban versus rural areas. Here, “majority urban” indicates more than 50 percent of the population live in urban centers; “majority rural” indicates less than 50 percent. Urban populations are defined based on the definition of urban areas by national statistical offices. This is based on estimates to 2016, combined with UN projections to 2050.
The recent history of urbanization
- Urbanization on the United Nations website
- The speed of urbanization around the world on the United Nations website
- Do more people live in urban or rural areas? on Our World in Data
- Urbanization on Wikipedia