Watch as the world’s cities are born one-by-one, beginning with the very first city in 3700 BC and continuing up to the present.
Use the controls at the bottom to pause/resume the map and to move back and forth in time.
By 2030, 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. Today, about 54 percent of us do. In 1960, only 34 percent of the world lived in cities.
Urbanization didn’t begin in the 1960’s. But until recently, tracking its history much further back than that was a challenging task. The most comprehensive collection of urban population data available, U.N. World urbanization prospects, goes back only to 1950. But thanks to a report released last week by a Yale-led team of researchers, it’s now possible to analyse the history of cities over a much longer time frame.
The researchers compiled the data by digitizing, geocoding, and standardizing information from past research published about historical urban populations. The result is a clean, accessible dataset of cities, their locations, and their populations over time, going as far back as 3700 B.C.