The mighty metropolises

Urban islands of prosperity: Global cities are growing in power and influence. But can they survive if they break the bonds with their host countries?

The World Today Published 6 February 2015 Updated 5 January 2021 4 minute READ

Mathieu Lefevre

Executive Director, New Cities Foundation. Riccardo Mastini contributed research to this article

Sometime in the middle of 2009, the number of people living in cities exceeded the world’s rural population for the first time in history. By 2050, some 70 per cent of the world’s population will live on only 3 per cent of the earth’s surface – in cities. These conurbations are becoming global economic and geo-political players to be reckoned with. This will radically affect the way we live, work and plan for the future.

The bulk of urban population growth is taking place in Asia and Africa through migration from the countryside. Globally, about 70 million people migrate each year from rural to urban areas. Countries such as India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria will witness huge increases – upwards of 800 million people – in the size of their urban populations over the next 20 years.

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