Degree of urbanization (percentage of urban population in total population) by continent in 2017

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Degree of urbanization
Northern America81%
Latin America and the Caribbean80%
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The graph shows the degree of urbanization by continent in 2017. In 2017, the degree of urbanization worldwide was at around 54 percent.

Urbanization worldwide by continent

The Population Reference Bureau released data on global urbanization by continent in 2016. This statistic shows the percentage of total population living in areas that are defined as "cities" in the countries respectively. Some countries counted settlements with 100 houses or more as "urban," while others only included the capital of a country or provincial capitals in their count. According to the source, North America was the most urbanized continent worldwide, with 81 percent of the population living in cities. Additional statistics from the World Bank, estimate America’s degree of urbanization at 81.62 percent as of 2015. Latin America and the Caribbean were also reported as having a high degree of urbanization—with 80 percent of the population living in cities. Europe ranked third in terms of degree of urbanization. Meanwhile, as of 2010, the global share of people living in urban areas was estimated at 51 percent. This share is projected to increase to 70 percent of the global population by 2050.

Though North America was ranked number one in degree of urbanization, only one of the United State’s cities ranked within the largest ten worldwide: New York City. Tokyo, Japan, was the largest city in the world as of 2010, with 36.7 million inhabitants. New York-Newark came in at 19.4 million inhabitants in 2010, ranking sixth. Los Angeles, California was the second largest city in America with 3.8 million inhabitants in 2011.

It may be hard to imagine what life could be like in 2050, with 70 percent of the global population living in cities, but some statistics illustrate the ways urban living differs from suburban and rural living. American urbanites may lead more “connected” (i.e. internet connected) lives than their rural and/or suburban counterparts. As of May 2013, more than fifty percent(59%) of all smartphone owners lived in urban areas. As of October 2009, seventy percent of urban households had internet connections, compared to 63.4 percent of rural households. According to one study in 2014, urbanites were also slightly more likely to report having read a book in the past 12 months, seventy-seven percent of respondents from urban areas vs. 76 percent of respondents from rural areas and 75 percent of respondents from suburban areas.

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