New UN report reveals global population becoming more urban

10:01, March 26, 2010      

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With half of the people living in cities worldwide, a new United Nations report on Thursday revealed that the apparent rise of urbanization comes at the expense of rural areas.

The 2009 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects report, launched on Thursday by the UN Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at the UN Headquarters in New York, said that with 50.5 percent, or 3.5 billion people worldwide living in cities in 2010, the global population as a whole is becoming more urban and less rural.

The new UN report highlighted Northern America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Oceania as "highly urbanized" areas.

With proportions ranging from 70 percent in Oceania to 82 percent in North America, the report underscored that these rates are expected to rise.

Even if the rates of urbanization rise slowly, those areas are expected to be more than 84 percent urban with the exception of Oceania by 2050, the report said.

It took note of the uneven distribution of the world urban population, namely that 52 percent of the urban population live in urban centers with fewer than half a million inhabitants.

The rest live in 961 cities, which have more than half a million inhabitants -- with only 54 of the cities having populations that surpass 5 million, the report said. Those include 21 megacities which are cities with at least 10 million inhabitants.

In 2010, the report forecasted that small urban centers with fewer than half a million inhabitants are expected to see their population increase by 0.5 billion between 2010 and 2010. This will absorb the 45 percent of the projected increase in the world urban population, the report said.

In contrast, the report said that globally, the rural population is expected to start decreasing around 2020 with 0.56 billion fewer rural inhabitants projected in 2050 than today.

Asia, which has the largest number of rural inhabitants, is said to experience the most notable decline in rural population -- from 2.4 billion in 2010 to 1.8 billion in 2050. The 2009 Revision report presents estimates and projections of the total, urban and rural populations for the period 1950-2050.

The Population division of the DESA has been issuing every two years revised and updated estimates as well as projections of urban and rural populations of all countries in world.

Source: Xinhua
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