Data

Share of the population living in urban areas

What you should know about this indicator

Urban population refers to people living in urban areas as defined by national statistical offices. The data are collected and smoothed by United Nations Population Division.

Limitations and exceptions: Aggregation of urban and rural population may not add up to total population because of different country coverage. There is no consistent and universally accepted standard for distinguishing urban from rural areas, in part because of the wide variety of situations across countries.

Most countries use an urban classification related to the size or characteristics of settlements. Some define urban areas based on the presence of certain infrastructure and services. And other countries designate urban areas based on administrative arrangements. Because of national differences in the characteristics that distinguish urban from rural areas, the distinction between urban and rural population is not amenable to a single definition that would be applicable to all countries.

Estimates of the world's urban population would change significantly if China, India, and a few other populous nations were to change their definition of urban centers.

Because the estimates of city and metropolitan area are based on national definitions of what constitutes a city or metropolitan area, cross-country comparisons should be made with caution.

Statistical concept and methodology: Urban population refers to people living in urban areas as defined by national statistical offices. The indicator is calculated using World Bank population estimates and urban ratios from the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects.

Percentages urban are the numbers of persons residing in an area defined as ''urban'' per 100 total population. They are calculated by the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Particular caution should be used in interpreting the figures for percentage urban for different countries.

Countries differ in the way they classify population as "urban" or "rural." The population of a city or metropolitan area depends on the boundaries chosen.

Source
Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range
1960–2022
Unit
% of total

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI).

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Citations

How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Share of the population living in urban areas”. Our World in Data (2024). Data adapted from UN Population Division (via World Bank). Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/share-of-population-urban [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data

Full citation

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data. “Share of the population living in urban areas” [dataset]. UN Population Division (via World Bank), “World Development Indicators” [original data]. Retrieved June 12, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/share-of-population-urban