More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, UN report finds

BY Talia Mindich  July 10, 2014 at 4:30 PM EDT
Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Flickr user Carlos Pereria

Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Flickr user Carlos Pereria

The world’s urban population has ballooned to 3.9 billion — 54 percent of the total population — in 2014, the United Nations reported Thursday. By 2050, this proportion is expected to grow to 66 percent.

According to the 2014 revision of the World Urbanization Prospects, the largest urban growth will take place in India, China and Nigeria — the three of which account for 37 percent of the projected growth between 2014 and 2050. Countries in developing regions, especially Africa, are expected to see the most urban growth.

The report stressed the importance of accommodating these urban populations with housing, infrastructure, education, health care and more.

“Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division in the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs.