The global rural population, which is close to 3.4 billion at present, is expected to decline to 3.1 billion by 2050, according to the UN World Urbanisation Prospects Report 2014. “The rural population of the world has grown slowly since 1950 and is expected to reach its peak around 2020. While Africa and Asia are urbanizing rapidly, the regions are still home to nearly 90 per cent of the world’s rural population. India has the largest rural population with 857 million, followed by China with 635 million,” says the report.
The report notes that mega-cities with more than 10 million people are increasing in number in the world. Today, in 2014, there are 28 mega-cities worldwide, home to 453 million people or about 12 percent of the world’s urban dwellers. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with 10 million inhabitants or more. There were ten “mega-cities” with 10 million or more inhabitants in 1990, which were home to 153 million people or slightly less than seven per cent of the global urban population at that time. Out of 28 mega -cities in the world today, sixteen are located in Asia, four in Latin America, three each in Africa and Europe, and two in Northern America.
India is projected to add 404 million urban dwellers, China 292 million and Nigeria 212 million by 2050. These three countries will account for 37 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050. The 2014 revision of the World Urbanisation Prospects produced by the UN Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs notes that the largest urban growth will take place in India, China and Nigeria. According to the report, Asia, despite its lower level of urbanization, is home to 53 per cent of the world’s urban population, followed by Europe with 14 per cent and Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 per cent.