UNITED NATIONS -- Two Latin American cities are among the top five most populated urban centers in the world, although the fastest urban growth is happening in other regions, says a new U.N. report released Thursday.
Mexico City and Sao Paulo are listed as the fourth and fifth most populated cities, each with around 21 million inhabitants, according to the latest revision of World Urbanization Prospects, a report produced by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai claimed the top three spots, with populations of 38 million, 25 million and 23 million respectively.
By 2030, Latin American cities near the top are expected to drop down on the list to make way for rapidly growing cities in Nigeria, India and China. Together, they are expected to account for 37 percent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population, which will present “major challenges” for urban planners in those regions, said John Wilmoth, director of UNDESA’s population division.
“It’s very difficult to stop the growth of cities,” Wilmoth said. “From an urban planning standpoint — public transportation, water and sanitation — it is very important that countries think ahead and plan for this growth. Hopefully, this is a wake up call.”
Latin America and the Caribbean are home to just 13 percent of the world’s urban population, but 80 percent of the hemisphere’s inhabitants live in the region’s large cities, according to the report.
Globally, over half of the world’s population resided in urban areas in 2014, up from 30 percent in 1950. Continued growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s cities. By 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will be city dwellers, according to the report.