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Mapping Human Impact Across the World

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This graphic maps the extent of humanity’s impact on the world from 1993 to 2009

Mapping Human Impact Across the World

Since the dawn of human history, our activities have left an impact on Earth—from gathering food to farming, from building homes and cities to traveling across oceans.

And as the global population expanded and civilizations became more complex, that impact grew alongside it. Mass agriculture, natural resource extraction, and creation of urban infrastructure are just some of the visible markers of modern human development.

In this graphic, Adam Symington maps the extent of humanity’s impact on the world from 1993 to 2009, using information provided by the scientific paper titled “Global Terrestrial Human Footprint Maps for 1993 and 2009.”

Variables for Measuring Human Impact

To accurately plot and measure human impact, the researches compiled studies and surveys from 1993 to 2009 across eight variables of human “pressure”:

  1. Built environments
  2. Population density
  3. Night-time lights
  4. Croplands
  5. Pasture
  6. Roads
  7. Railways
  8. Navigable waterways
  9. These different pressures were then normalized and weighted, as some have a noticeably greater impact on the surrounding environments than others. Once plotted and overlayed, we can see where human impact was the highest.

    What Caused the Largest Impact?

    According to the research, increases in population density, housing development, and road and rail networks were the primary growth factors for human impact.

    This caused the overall footprint to increase dramatically in densest urban centers of the world. The brightest and most visible on the map include:

    • The Boston–Washington corridor (including New York City) in the U.S.
    • The “Blue Banana” corridor in Europe from the UK to Northern Italy.
    • The Nile Delta and Greater Cairo in Egypt.
    • The Taiheiyō Belt in Japan (including Tokyo and Osaka).
    • Many other areas in South America, Central Africa, and South Asia, also saw human impact increase due to both increased urbanization and agriculture. Especially noticeable is the relatively even growth in human impact across Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

      Untouched Wildernesses

      While humanity’s footprint has transformed various parts of the world, some areas have been left untouched, to some extent.

      The frigid Arctic terrains of Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Eastern Russia barely saw any change between 1993 and 2009.

      Likewise, the Amazon rainforest in South America, the Sahara Desert in Africa, the Tibetan Plateau in Asia and the desert in Western Australia had large swaths of land with almost no human impact. However, they all had small patches of measured human impact, either through infrastructure development or resource extraction.

      And though there were still corners of the Earth with little to no human impact in 2009, changes since in demographics, politics, and consumption could have an outsized effect on humanity’s footprint both now and into the future.

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      This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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population

Mapped: Indian States with Cities Over 1 Million People

Ten Indian states—most of them from the northeast region of the country—don’t have a single city with 1 million residents.

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A cropped map of Indian states and the number of 1 million+ cities in them.

Mapped: Indian States with Cities Over 1 Million People

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Slightly more than one-third of the 1.4 billion Indian population lives in an urban area. So where are the country’s most populous cities, and how are they spread across the country’s 28 states and eight union territories?

This map shows the number of Indian urban agglomerations (cities) with more than a million residents in each jurisdiction. Data for this graphic is sourced from 2024 urban agglomeration estimates in the UN World Urbanization Prospects.

Ranked: Indian States by Cities with 1M Residents

India’s Uttar Pradesh state has 10 cities with a population size of 1 million or more. It is also India’s most populous state, home to 240 million people. This makes it comparable to the size of Pakistan, the fifth most populous country in the world.

Indian StateCities with 1M Residents (2024)City Names
Uttar Pradesh10Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Meerut,
Varanasi, Prayagraj,
Bareilly, Aligarh,
Moradabad, Saharanpur
Kerala7Kozhikode,
Malappuram,
Thrissur, Kochi,
Thiruvananthapura,
Kannur, Kollam
Maharashtra6Mumbai, Pune,
Nagpur, Nashik,
Aurangabad, Solapur
Tamil Nadu6Chennai, Coimbatore,
Madurai, Tiruppur,
Tiruchirappalli, Salem
Gujarat4Ahmedabad, Surat,
Vadodara, Rajkot
Madhya Pradesh4Indore, Bhopal,
Jabalpur, Gwalior
Jharkhand3Jamshedpur, Ranchi,
Dhanbad
Karnataka3Bengaluru, Mysore,
Hubli-Dharwad
Punjab3Ludhiana, Amritsar,
Jalandhar
Rajasthan3Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota
West Bengal3Kolkata, Asansol, Siliguri
Andhra Pradesh2Visakhapatnam,
Vijayawada
Chhattisgarh2Raipur, Durg-Bhilainagar
Telangana2Hyderabad, Warangal
Assam1Guwahati
Bihar1Patna
Odisha1Bhubaneswar
Uttarakhand1Dehradun
Chandigarh*1Chandigargh
Delhi*1New Delhi
Jammu & Kashmir*1Srinagar

*Union Territories. Figures rounded. Some city names may have changed since this data was published.

Further south, Kerala (7), Maharashtra (6), and Tamil Nadu (6) also have more than five cities with a million or more people.

Meanwhile, some cities, including India’s national capital, New Delhi, are either in or are themselves union territories—areas directly administered by the central government.

Ten Indian states—most of them from the country’s northeast region—don’t have a single city with 1 million residents.

All together, India has 65 cities with more than one million inhabitants. For comparison, China has 105, and the U.S. has nine.

RankCityState/Union Territory2024 Population
Estimates
1New DelhiDelhi*34M
2MumbaiMaharashtra22M
3KolkataWest Bengal16M
4BengaluruKarnataka14M
5ChennaiTamil Nadu12M
6HyderabadTelangana11M
7AhmadabadGujarat9M
8SuratGujarat8M
9PuneMaharashtra7M
10JaipurRajasthan4M
11KozhikodeKerala4M
12MalappuramKerala4M
13LucknowUttar Pradesh4M
14ThrissurKerala4M
15KochiKerala4M
16IndoreMadhya Pradesh3M
17KanpurUttar Pradesh3M
18NagpurMaharashtra3M
19CoimbatoreTamil Nadu3M
20ThiruvananthapuramKerala3M
21PatnaBihar3M
22BhopalMadhya Pradesh3M
23AgraUttar Pradesh3M
24KannurKerala2M
25VisakhapatnamAndhra Pradesh2M
26VadodaraGujarat2M
27NashikMaharashtra2M
28VijayawadaAndhra Pradesh2M
29KollamKerala2M
30RajkotGujarat2M
31LudhianaPunjab2M
32MaduraiTamil Nadu2M
33RaipurChhattisgarh2M
34MeerutUttar Pradesh2M
35VaranasiUttar Pradesh2M
36SrinagarJammu & Kashmir*2M
37TiruppurTamil Nadu2M
38JamshedpurJharkhand2M
39AurangabadMaharashtra2M
40JodhpurRajasthan2M
41RanchiJharkhand2M
42KotaRajasthan2M
43JabalpurMadhya Pradesh2M
44AsansolWest Bengal2M
45GwaliorMadhya Pradesh2M
46AllahabadUttar Pradesh2M
47AmritsarPunjab1M
48DhanbadJharkhand1M
49BareillyUttar Pradesh1M
50AligarhUttar Pradesh1M
51MoradabadUttar Pradesh1M
52MysoreKarnataka1M
53Durg-BhilainagarChhattisgarh1M
54BhubaneswarOdisha1M
55TiruchirappalliTamil Nadu1M
56ChandigarhChandigarh*1M
57SaharanpurUttar Pradesh1M
58Hubli-DharwadKarnataka1M
59GuwahatiAssam1M
60SalemTamil Nadu1M
61SiliguriWest Bengal1M
62JalandharPunjab1M
63SolapurMaharashtra1M
64WarangalTelangana1M
65DehradunUttarakhand1M

*Union Territories. Figures rounded. Some city names may have changed since this data was published.

Interestingly, three of the five most populous Indian cities (Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai) were villages that became key British trading outposts. As a result all three cities have a fort within their city limits which acted as protection against competing colonial interests at the time.

Finally, Uttar Pradesh—which leads the states by number of cities with 1M people—doesn’t have a single metropolis within the top 10.

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