Urban area over the long-term

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What you should know about this indicator

  • Built-up areas are computed by dividing total urban population in a country at a given year by the average urban densities in a country at that year.
  • The order of allocation is as follows: first, we allocate cropland, then rice, then irrigation and finally grazing land.
Urban area over the long-term
Total built-up area of a country over time.
HYDE (2023) – with minor processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
January 2, 2024
Next expected update
June 2029
Date range
10000 BCE – 2023 CE
km² per grid cell

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

This database presents an update and expansion of the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE, v 3.3) and replaces former HYDE 3.2 version from 2017. HYDE is and internally consistent combination of updated historical population estimates and land use. Categories include cropland, with a new distinction into irrigated and rain fed crops (other than rice) and irrigated and rain fed rice. Also grazing lands are provided, divided into more intensively used pasture, converted rangeland and non-converted natural (less intensively used) rangeland. Population is represented by maps of total, urban, rural population and population density as well as built-up area. The period covered is 10 000 BCE to 2023 CE. Spatial resolution is 5 arc minutes (approx. 85 km2 at the equator), the files are in ESRI ASCII grid format.

Retrieved on
January 2, 2024
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.
Utrecht University/PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency - History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE v 3.3, 2023).
Klein Goldewijk, C.G.M., Beusen, A., Doelman, J., Stehfest, E., 2017, Anthropogenic land use estimates for the Holocene – HYDE 3.2, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 927–953

How we process data at Our World in Data

All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

At the link below you can find a detailed description of the structure of our data pipeline, including links to all the code used to prepare data across Our World in Data.

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  • All data produced by third-party providers and made available by Our World in Data are subject to the license terms from the original providers. Our work would not be possible without the data providers we rely on, so we ask you to always cite them appropriately (see below). This is crucial to allow data providers to continue doing their work, enhancing, maintaining and updating valuable data.
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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: Urban area over the long-term”, part of the following publication: Hannah Ritchie, Lucas Rodés-Guirao, Edouard Mathieu, Marcel Gerber, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, Joe Hasell and Max Roser (2023) - “Population Growth”. Data adapted from PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Retrieved from [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:

HYDE (2023) – with minor processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

HYDE (2023) – with minor processing by Our World in Data. “Urban area over the long-term” [dataset]. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, “History Database of the Global Environment 3.3” [original data]. Retrieved July 14, 2024 from