Thanks to drastic increases in crop yields and the falling need for manual farm labor, a mass migration towards cities started in the years following the Industrial Revolution.
This phenomenon first originated in developed economies as people moved to work in factories that produced consumer goods at a scale never before seen. Then in the 1950s, developing economies started to follow suit.
The results have been staggering, and today a country like China has at least 35 massive cities that each have an economic output comparable to entire countries.
After many decades of urbanization, the portion of people living in urban areas has surpassed the total rural population. This happened in 2007, and we are now in the first window in human history in which more people are city dwellers.
So what cities are the meccas for urban migration today? And which are falling out of favor?
The Fastest Growing Cities (2000-2016)
The following interactive and zoomable map was put together by Datawrapper, using data from the United Nations.
It lists 500 cities with over 1 million people, and is shaded based on annualized population growth rate between 2000 and 2016. Percent growth corresponds with darker shades of teal, while orange symbolizes negative growth over the timeframe.
It’s strongly recommended to explore the map by zooming in on particular regions. Highlighting cities themselves will give you population details for 2000 and 2016, as well as an annualized percentage growth rate.
Here are some areas we thought were worth looking at in more detail:
North America is mostly what one may expect. The biggest cities (NYC, LA, Chicago, Toronto) aren’t changing too fast, while some cities in the Rust Belt (Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) have slightly negative growth rates. Austin, TX and Charlotte, NC seem to be the fastest growing cities in the U.S., overall.
Colombia’s Bogotá stands out as the city in South America growing at the most blistering pace. It gained 3.6 million people in the 2000-2016 year period, good for a 2.8% annual growth rate.
China and India
These two populous countries are home to many of the dark-shaded circles on the map. It’s worth looking at an additional screenshot here (just in case if you haven’t zoomed in above).
Look at the coast of China – it’s dotted with rapidly expanding cities. Incredibly, in the 16-year span of data, some of these cities have doubled in terms of population. Others like Xiamen have tripled in size. Shanghai alone has gained 10.5 million people in this span of time.
In India, the fastest growing cities are in the south, where there are at least 10 large cities that have roughly doubled in size. Delhi, which is in the north, has added nearly 11 million inhabitants over the same stretch.
In Africa, we see the names of many of the cities that are projected to be the world’s largest megacities by 2100.
Lagos in Nigeria has doubled to nearly 14 million people between 2000-2016, and it is expected to explode to 88.3 million people by 2100 to be the world’s most populous city overall. Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Kinshasa (DRC) are two other places that are set to grow rapidly by 2100, rounding out the list of the world’s three most populous megacities.
Visualizing China’s Dominance in Rare Earth Metals
Rare earth deposits exist all over the planet, but the majority of the world’s rare earth metals are produced and refined in China.
China’s Dominance in Rare Earth Metals
Did you know that a single iPhone contains eight different rare earth metals?
From smartphones and electric vehicles to x-rays and guided-missiles, several modern technologies wouldn’t be what they are without rare earth metals. Also known as rare earth elements or simply “rare earths”, this group of 17 elements is critical to a number of wide-ranging industries.
Although deposits of rare earth metals exist all over the world, the majority of both mining and refining occurs in China. The above graphic from CSIS China Power Project tracks China’s exports of rare earth metals in 2019, providing a glimpse of the country’s dominating presence in the global supply chain.
China’s Top Rare Earth Export Destinations
Around 88% of China’s 2019 rare earth exports went to just five countries, which are among the world’s technological and economic powerhouses.
|Export Destination||Share of China's Rare Earth Exports||Top Rare Earth Import (tons)|
|Rest of the World||12.1%||Cerium|
Japan and the U.S. are by far the largest importers, collectively accounting for more than two-thirds of China’s rare earth metals exports.
Lanthanum, found in hybrid vehicles and smartphones, was China’s largest rare earth export by volume, followed by cerium. In dollar terms, terbium was the most expensive—generating $57.9 million from just 115 metric tons of exports.
Why China’s Dominance Matters
As the world transitions to a cleaner future, the demand for rare earth metals is expected to nearly double by 2030, and countries are in need of a reliable supply chain.
China’s virtual monopoly in rare earth metals not only gives it a strategic upper hand over heavily dependent countries like the U.S.—which imports 80% of its rare earths from China—but also makes the supply chain anything but reliable.
“China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage to deal with the [Trade War] situation.”
—Gao Fengping et al., 2019, in a report funded by the Chinese government via Horizon Advisory.
A case in point comes from 2010 when China reduced its rare earth export quotas by 37%, which in part resulted in skyrocketing rare earth prices worldwide.
The resulting supply chain disruption was significant enough to push the EU, the U.S., and Japan to jointly launch a dispute settlement case through the World Trade Organization, which was ruled against China in 2014.
On the brighter side, the increase in prices led to an influx of capital in the rare earth mining industry, financing more than 200 projects outside China. While this exploration boom was short-lived, it was successful in kick-starting production in other parts of the world.
Breaking China’s Rare Earth Monopoly
China’s dominance in rare earths is the result of years of evolving industrial policies since the 1980s, ranging from tax rebates to export restrictions. In order to reduce dependence on China, the U.S. and Japan have made it a priority to diversify their sources of rare earth metals.
For starters, the U.S. has added rare earth metals to its list of critical minerals, and President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order to encourage local production. On the other side of the world, Japan is making efforts to reduce China’s share of its total rare earth imports to less than 50% by 2025.
Increasing rare earth mining outside of China has reduced China’s global share of mining, down from 97.7% in 2010 to 62.9% in 2019. But mining is merely one piece of the puzzle.
Ultimately, the large majority of rare earth refining, 80%, resides in China. Therefore, even rare earths mined overseas are sent to China for final processing. New North American refining facilities are being set up to tackle this, but the challenge lies in managing the environmental impacts of processing rare earths.
Mapped: The Top Surveillance Cities Worldwide
Which cities have the most CCTV cameras? This map reveals the top surveillance cities worldwide in terms of the prevalence of CCTV cameras.
The Top Surveillance Cities Worldwide
Since the world’s first CCTV camera was installed in Germany in 1942, the number of surveillance cameras around the world has grown immensely. In fact, it only took us 79 years to go from one camera to nearly one billion of these devices.
In the above interactive graphic, Surfshark maps out how prevalent CCTV surveillance cameras are in the world’s 130 most populous cities.
Big Brother is Watching
So how many of us are being watched? China and India are the countries with the highest densities of CCTV surveillance cameras in urban areas. Chennai, India has 657 cameras per square kilometer, making it the number one city in the world in terms of surveillance.
Here’s a closer look at the world’s top 10 cities by CCTV density.
|Rank||City||CCTVs per square km||CCTVs per 1,000 people|
|#1||🇮🇳 Chennai, India||657||25.5|
|#2||🇮🇳 Hyderabad, India||480||30.0|
|#3||🇨🇳 Harbin, China||411||39.1|
|#4||🇬🇧 London, England||399||67.5|
|#5||🇨🇳 Xiamen, China||385||40.3|
|#6||🇨🇳 Chengdu, China||350||33.9|
|#7||🇨🇳 Taiyuan, China||319||119.6|
|#8||🇮🇳 Delhi, India||289||14.2|
|#9||🇨🇳 Kunming, China||281||45.0|
|#10||🇨🇳 Beijing, China||278||56.2|
London is the only non-Asian city to crack the list with 399 CCTV cameras per square kilometer.
Beijing ranks in tenth place. The Chinese capital has the highest number of CCTV cameras in total, at just over 1.1 million installed in the city.
Although CCTV cameras have become extremely prevalent in cities around the world, this does not mean these cameras are seeing and recognizing our every move. In most instances, cameras are in a fixed position—and some of the more invasive aspects of CCTV, like accompanying facial recognition technology, are not universal yet.
The Need for CCTV
The ubiquity of surveillance cameras can be unnerving to some, as they represent diminishing privacy. However, there are also those that feel the presence of cameras creates added safety.
While governments like China’s claim that having high amounts of surveillance cameras helps reduce crime, the actual data gets messy. For example, the Chinese city of Taiyuan has roughly 120 cameras per every thousand people and yet the city has a higher crime index than most.
Freedom vs. Security
As surveillance networks become more sophisticated and granular, there is increasing concern about breaches to personal freedoms.
China is doubling down with surveillance in its cities by pioneering the usage and exportation of facial recognition technology. This technology is integral to China’s proposed social points system. With a database of 1.3 billion pictures that can be matched to a face on a CCTV camera in seconds, troublemaking citizens can easily be identified.
In India, on the other hand, the amount of cameras can be attributed to mass urbanization, rising crime, and scarcity of urban resources. Overall, there is a rising middle class that wishes to protect itself with the use of CCTV cameras.
As we close in on one billion CCTV surveillance cameras globally by the end of 2021, we will undoubtedly continue to be monitored well into the future.
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