Mapping changes to the World’s urban population between 1950 – 2030

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World City Population Geoawesomeness

For the first time in history more than half the world’s population live in cities. The world’s urban population now stands at 3.7 billion people, and this number is expected to double by 2050. In 1950 only 30% of the world’s population was living in cities. Today the number  reached as much as 54%.

A really cool map by urban geographer Duncan Smith is trying to capture this change. The map shows the population size of cities around the world for 1950, 1990 and 2015. The map also shows the predicted population size in the year 2030. Each city is represented by 4 circles that are colour coded according to the year and their size represents change in the population of each city. The overall effect is a really delightful and easy to follow map.

When you move mouse over particular city you’ll get a detailed information its dynamics. You can observe that for some cities growth trajectory is almost exponential like for Dhaka the capital of Bangladesh:

World City Population Dhaka Geoawesomenes

while the dynamics of several other World’s largest cities are different. Tokyo for example has been growing fast between 1950 and 1980, when the growth dynamics started to slow down and by 2030 the population of the agglomeration might even shrink.

World City Population Tokyo Geoawesomenes

Data comes from the UN World Urban Propospects – a report where UN tracked the populations of major cities from 1950 to 2014 as well as predicted how these populations would change up to the year 2030.

The global urbanisation is a fact and it has profound implications for a wide range of issues including food, water, and energy consumption. As city life becomes a reality for an ever-greater share of the world’s population, governments, companies, and civil society must recognise it and get prepared to deal with city-level problems.

One thing is sure. Spatial data and technologies are the key to properly manage this issue.

source: World City Population 1950-2030

Aleks Buczkowski
I'm a professional always thinking outside the box and a self-confessed gadget addict. As a son of a professor of cartography I was surrounded by maps all my life and as a result spatial way of thinking and seeing reality is naturally embedded in who I am.