53% of urban population lives in small towns By 2050

Posted By indiaspaces . on 14 Nov 2010
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In mid-2009 it was declared that the tipping point has been crossed: world urban population crossed the 50% mark for the first time in human history. Contrary to the general impression, the bulk of this urban population does not stay in big metropolises. Over 53% of the world’s total urban population of 3.4 billion resides in towns with less than 5 lakh population. Of these, about 1.14 billion, or one third, stay in towns with less than 1 lakh population. At the other end of the spectrum are the better-known mega-cities, each with population of over 10 million (1 crore). Only about 9% of the world’s urban population lives in the 21 such mega-cities existing today. These stunning details of the fast changing face of the urban world have been released by the Population Division of the United Nations in its latest report on urbanization released on Thursday in New York.
    The report provides first official confirmation that current urban population is just over 50% of the world population of 6.8 billion. It is expected that world population will increase to 9.1 billion by 2050. The urban segment will jump by 84% to reach about 6.3 billion by that year. In other words 70% of humanity will be living in urban areas by then. Rural populations are projected to start declining by the end of this decade and by 2050, there will be 0.5 billion less rural people than today.
    The distribution of urban populations among different sizes of cities varies widely across the globe. In Europe, 67% of urban dwellers live in cities with fewer than half a million inhabitants and only 8% live in cities with 5 million inhabitants or more. Africa is similar to Europe, with 58% of urban dwellers living in smaller cities (those with fewer than half a million inhabitants) and just 9% living in cities with over 5 million inhabitants.
    In Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Northern America, about one in every five urban dwellers live in a large urban agglomeration. The proportion of urban dwellers living in small cities is about 50% in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean, but it is a low 37% in Northern America.
    In India, about 14% of urban population — about 53 million people — stay in the three 10 million plus urban agglomerations (Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata). Another 9%, or 32 million stay in cities of size ranging between 5 to 10 million. A whopping 27%, of total urban population, that is, about 101 million people dwell in cities between half a million and 5 million in size. The bulk of urban Indians — 181 million or 50% — stay in small towns with less than half a million (5 lakh) population. The report also says the rate of growth of urbanization is slowing down.