- Topic: Environment: Density & urbanization
- Definition: Urban population refers to people living in urban areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated using World Bank population estimates and urban ratios from the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects.
- Source: World Bank staff estimates based on the United Nations Population Division's World Urbanization Prospects.
- Statistical concept and methodology: Urban population refers to people living in urban areas as defined by national statistical offices. The indicator is calculated using World Bank population estimates and urban ratios from the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects. To estimate urban populations, UN ratios of urban to total population were applied to the World Bank's estimates of total population. Countries differ in the way they classify population as "urban" or "rural." The population of a city or metropolitan area depends on the boundaries chosen.
- Development relevance: Explosive growth of cities globally signifies the demographic transition from rural to urban, and is associated with shifts from an agriculture-based economy to mass industry, technology, and service. In principle, cities offer a more favorable setting for the resolution of social and environmental problems than rural areas. Cities generate jobs and income, and deliver education, health care and other services. Cities also present opportunities for social mobilization and women's empowerment.
- Limitations and exceptions: There is no consistent and universally accepted standard for distinguishing urban from rural areas, in part because of the wide variety of situations across countries. Most countries use an urban classification related to the size or characteristics of settlements. Some define urban areas based on the presence of certain infrastructure and services. And other countries designate urban areas based on administrative arrangements. Because of national differences in the characteristics that distinguish urban from rural areas, the distinction between urban and rural population is not amenable to a single definition that would be applicable to all countries. Estimates of the world's urban population would change significantly if China, India, and a few other populous nations were to change their definition of urban centers. Because the estimates of city and metropolitan area are based on national definitions of what constitutes a city or metropolitan area, cross-country comparisons should be made with caution.
List of countries ordered by: Urban population growth (annual %)
Source: Health Nutrition and Population Statistics - World Bank - Downloaded in August 2017