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Urbanization by continent 2020

This statistic shows the degree of urbanization by continent in 2020. In mid-2020, the degree of urbanization worldwide was at around 56 percent.

Urbanization worldwide by continent

Shown here is 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 82 percent of the population living in cities. Latin America and the Caribbean were also reported as having a high degree of urbanization — with 79 percent of the population living in cities. Europe ranked third in terms of degree of urbanization. It is projected that the global share of people living in urban areas will to increase to 70 percent 2050, compared to 56 percent in 2020.

Though North America was ranked number one in degree of urbanization, no U.S. cities ranked within the largest ten worldwide. Tokyo, Japan, was the largest urban area in the world as of 2018, with 37.5 million inhabitants. New York-Newark came in at 18.8 million inhabitants, ranking eleventh. Los Angeles, California was the second largest city in America and the 23rd largest in the world with 12.5 million inhabitants in 2018.

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 2019, more than 83 percent of people who lived in urban areas owned a smartphone. 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 2019, urbanites were also slightly more likely to report having read a book in the past 12 months, 75 percent of respondents from urban areas vs. 66 percent of respondents from rural areas and 74 percent of respondents from suburban areas.

Degree of urbanization (percentage of urban population in total population) by continent in 2020

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Release date

July 2020



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

According to the source the data from the above statistic originates from official statistical yearbooks and bulletins of the particular country. Moreover, publications of the United Nations, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Population Division) of the UN and the U.S. Census Bureau serve as data sources. Further sources are recent demographic studies, special studies and direct interviews with demographers and inquiries at statistical offices of the U.S. and other countries.

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Statistics on "Global mega trends 2017"

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