This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.
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This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.

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This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.

The United States is the third most populous country in the world, made up of close to 20,000 cities and towns, and 333 million individuals.

Dividing these population clusters into a coherent framework of statistical areas is no small feat, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest map shows just how complex of a task it is.

This enormous map—which covers the entire country, including Puerto Rico—includes 392 metropolitan statistical areas and 547 micropolitan statistical areas.

For reference, here are all the current metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, organized by population:

RankMetropolitan statistical areaPopulation (2020)Change since 2010
1New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA20,140,4706.58%
2Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA13,200,9982.90%
3Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA9,618,5021.66%
4Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA7,637,38719.96%
5Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA7,122,24020.30%
6Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA6,385,16213.02%
7Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA6,245,0514.69%
8Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA6,138,33310.31%
9Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA MSA6,089,81515.19%
10Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA4,941,6328.55%
11Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ MSA4,845,83215.57%
12San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA4,749,0089.54%
13Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA4,599,8398.88%
14Detroit–Warren–Dearborn, MI MSA4,392,0412.23%
15Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA4,018,76216.83%
16Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MSA3,690,26110.26%
17San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA MSA3,298,6346.57%
18Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA3,175,27514.09%
19Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO MSA2,963,82116.53%
20Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD MSA2,844,5104.94%
21St. Louis, MO-IL MSA2,820,2531.17%
22Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA2,673,37625.25%
23Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC MSA2,660,32918.56%
24San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA2,558,14319.40%
25Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSA2,512,85912.89%
26Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA MSA2,397,38211.55%
27Pittsburgh, PA MSA2,370,9300.62%
28Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX MSA2,283,37133.04%
29Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV MSA2,265,46116.10%
30Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN MSA2,256,8845.58%
31Kansas City, MO-KS MSA2,192,0359.09%
32Columbus, OH MSA2,138,92612.46%
33Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN MSA2,111,04011.82%
34Cleveland-Elyria, OH MSA2,088,2510.53%
35San Juan-Bayamón-Caguas, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area2,002,906-14.77%
36San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA2,000,4688.90%
37Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN MSA1,989,51920.86%
38Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA1,799,6745.00%
39Providence-Warwick, RI-MA MSA1,676,5794.73%
40Jacksonville, FL MSA1,605,84819.34%
41Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI MSA1,574,7311.21%
42Oklahoma City, OK MSA1,425,69513.78%
43Raleigh-Cary, NC MSA1,413,98225.08%
44Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSA1,337,7791.65%
45Richmond, VA MSA1,314,43410.78%
46Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA1,285,4396.88%
47New Orleans-Metairie, LA MSA1,271,8456.89%
48Salt Lake City, UT MSA1,257,93615.63%
49Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT MSA1,213,5310.09%
50Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY MSA1,166,9022.76%
51Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA1,115,2895.11%
52Rochester, NY MSA1,090,1350.97%
53Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI MSA1,087,5929.45%
54Tucson, AZ MSA1,043,4336.44%
55Urban Honolulu, HI MSA1,016,5086.64%
56Tulsa, OK MSA1,015,3318.30%
57Fresno, CA MSA1,008,6548.40%
58Worcester, MA-CT MSA978,5296.71%
59Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA MSA967,60411.82%
60Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT MSA957,4194.43%
61Greenville-Anderson, SC MSA928,19512.63%
62Albuquerque, NM MSA916,5283.32%
63Bakersfield, CA MSA909,2358.29%
64Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY MSA899,2623.28%
65Knoxville, TN MSA879,7737.96%
66McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX MSA870,78112.39%
67Baton Rouge, LA MSA870,5695.41%
68El Paso, TX MSA868,8598.05%
69New Haven-Milford, CT MSA864,8350.27%
70Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA861,8894.96%
71Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSA843,8432.49%
72North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL MSA833,71618.72%
73Columbia, SC MSA829,4708.06%
74Dayton-Kettering, OH MSA814,0491.85%
75Charleston-North Charleston, SC MSA799,63620.32%
76Stockton, CA MSA779,23313.71%
77Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA776,5667.29%
78Boise City, ID MSA764,71824.03%
79Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA760,82222.96%
80Colorado Springs, CO MSA755,10516.96%
81Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR MSA748,0316.90%
82Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL MSA725,04620.42%
83Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA MSA709,46616.98%
84Akron, OH MSA702,219-0.14%
85Springfield, MA MSA699,1620.90%
86Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY MSA697,2214.02%
87Ogden-Clearfield, UT MSA694,86316.36%
88Madison, WI MSA680,79612.45%
89Winston-Salem, NC MSA675,9665.52%
90Provo-Orem, UT MSA671,18527.41%
91Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL MSA668,92113.32%
92Syracuse, NY MSA662,057-0.08%
93Durham-Chapel Hill, NC MSA649,90315.18%
94Wichita, KS MSA647,6103.94%
95Toledo, OH MSA646,604-0.74%
96Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC MSA611,0008.17%
97Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL MSA606,61211.64%
98Jackson, MS MSA591,9780.97%
99Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSA591,7127.69%
100Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA MSA585,78413.80%
101Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA MSA567,5590.70%
102Chattanooga, TN-GA MSA562,6476.53%
103Lancaster, PA MSA552,9846.46%
104Modesto, CA MSA552,8787.47%
105Portland-South Portland, ME MSA551,7407.32%
106Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR MSA546,72524.22%
107Lansing-East Lansing, MI MSA541,2971.24%
108Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA MSA541,243-4.34%
109Fayetteville, NC MSA520,3788.17%
110Lexington-Fayette, KY MSA516,8119.47%
111Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL MSA509,90513.57%
112Huntsville, AL MSA491,72317.75%
113Reno, NV MSA490,59615.32%
114Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA MSA488,8631.03%
115Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC MSA487,72229.46%
116Port St. Lucie, FL MSA487,65714.98%
117Lafayette, LA MSA478,3842.49%
118Springfield, MO MSA475,4328.87%
119Killeen-Temple, TX MSA475,36717.29%
120Visalia, CA MSA473,1177.00%
121Asheville, NC MSA469,01510.39%
122York-Hanover, PA MSA456,4384.94%
123Vallejo, CA MSA453,4919.71%
124Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA MSA448,2295.74%
125Salinas, CA MSA439,0355.78%
126Salem, OR MSA433,35310.91%
127Mobile, AL MSA430,197-0.09%
128Reading, PA MSA428,8494.23%
129Manchester-Nashua, NH MSA422,9375.54%
130Corpus Christi, TX MSA421,9334.17%
131Brownsville-Harlingen, TX MSA421,0173.64%
132Fort Wayne, IN MSA419,6017.97%
133Salisbury, MD-DE MSA418,04611.84%
134Gulfport-Biloxi, MS MSA416,2597.15%
135Flint, MI MSA406,211-4.60%
136Savannah, GA MSA404,79816.45%
137Peoria, IL MSA402,391-3.33%
138Canton-Massillon, OH MSA401,574-0.70%
139Anchorage, AK MSA398,3284.60%
140Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX MSA397,5652.27%
141Shreveport-Bossier City, LA MSA393,406-1.30%
142Trenton-Princeton, NJ MSA387,3405.68%
143Montgomery, AL MSA386,0473.07%
144Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL MSA384,3241.22%
145Tallahassee, FL MSA384,2984.60%
146Eugene-Springfield, OR MSA382,9718.89%
147Ocala, FL MSA375,90813.47%
148Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA375,75216.87%
149Ann Arbor, MI MSA372,2587.97%
150Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC MSA365,276-0.06%
151Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH MSA359,862-2.98%
152Fort Collins, CO MSA359,06619.84%
153Lincoln, NE MSA340,21712.60%
154Gainesville, FL MSA339,24711.20%
155Rockford, IL MSA338,798-3.04%
156Boulder, CO MSA330,75812.29%
157Greeley, CO MSA328,98130.12%
158Columbus, GA-AL MSA328,8836.85%
159Green Bay, WI MSA328,2687.19%
160Spartanburg, SC MSA327,99715.37%
161South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI MSA324,5011.65%
162Lubbock, TX MSA321,36810.51%
163Clarksville, TN-KY MSA320,53517.01%
164Roanoke, VA MSA315,2512.12%
165Evansville, IN-KY MSA314,0490.80%
166Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA MSA307,614-0.62%
167Kennewick-Richland, WA MSA303,62219.85%
168Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA MSA294,79316.86%
169Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA293,8449.18%
170Utica-Rome, NY MSA292,264-2.38%
171Duluth, MN-WI MSA291,6380.34%
172Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL MSA286,97321.67%
173Longview, TX MSA286,1842.21%
174Aguadilla-Isabela, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area286,064-15.72%
175Wilmington, NC MSA285,90512.17%
176San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA MSA282,4244.74%
177Merced, CA MSA281,2029.93%
178Waco, TX MSA277,5479.80%
179Sioux Falls, SD MSA276,73021.23%
180Cedar Rapids, IA MSA276,5207.20%
181Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA MSA275,6119.75%
182Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ MSA274,534-0.01%
183Erie, PA MSA270,876-3.45%
184Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA MSA270,8613.23%
185Amarillo, TX MSA268,7616.68%
186Tuscaloosa, AL MSA268,67412.32%
187Norwich-New London, CT MSA268,555-2.01%
188College Station-Bryan, TX MSA268,24817.31%
189Laredo, TX MSA267,1146.72%
190Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA261,6704.53%
191Lynchburg, VA MSA261,5933.55%
192Charleston, WV MSA258,859-6.89%
193Yakima, WA MSA256,7285.55%
194Fargo, ND-MN MSA249,84319.67%
195Binghamton, NY MSA247,138-1.82%
196Fort Smith, AR-OK MSA244,310-1.57%
197Appleton, WI MSA243,1477.75%
198Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ MSA236,20911.93%
199Macon-Bibb County, GA MSA233,8020.65%
200Tyler, TX MSA233,47911.33%
201Topeka, KS MSA233,152-0.31%
202Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL MSA231,76727.16%
203Barnstable Town, MA MSA228,9966.07%
204Bellingham, WA MSA226,84712.78%
205Rochester, MN MSA226,3299.40%
206Burlington-South Burlington, VT MSA225,5626.77%
207Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN MSA223,7166.38%
208Medford, OR MSA223,2599.87%
209Champaign-Urbana, IL MSA222,5382.17%
210Lake Charles, LA MSA222,40211.42%
211Charlottesville, VA MSA221,5249.91%
212Las Cruces, NM MSA219,5614.94%
213Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC MSA215,90815.45%
214Athens-Clarke County, GA MSA215,41511.88%
215Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ MSA213,2676.53%
216Chico, CA MSA211,632-3.80%
217Ponce, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area211,465-19.48%
218Columbia, MO MSA210,86410.76%
219Springfield, IL MSA208,640-0.73%
220Johnson City, TN MSA207,2854.31%
221Houma-Thibodaux, LA MSA207,137-0.50%
222Monroe, LA MSA207,1041.31%
223Elkhart-Goshen, IN MSA207,0474.80%
224Jacksonville, NC MSA204,57615.08%
225Yuma, AZ MSA203,8814.15%
226Gainesville, GA MSA203,13613.05%
227Florence, SC MSA199,964-2.73%
228St. Cloud, MN MSA199,6715.59%
229Bend, OR MSA198,25325.69%
230Racine, WI MSA197,7271.19%
231Warner Robins, GA MSA191,61414.33%
232Saginaw, MI MSA190,124-5.02%
233Punta Gorda, FL MSA186,84716.80%
234Terre Haute, IN MSA185,031-2.49%
235Billings, MT MSA184,16710.17%
236Redding, CA MSA182,1552.78%
237Dover, DE MSA181,85112.04%
238Kingston, NY MSA181,851-0.35%
239Joplin, MO MSA181,4093.36%
240Yuba City, CA MSA181,2088.58%
241Jackson, TN MSA180,5040.45%
242St. George, UT MSA180,27930.53%
243El Centro, CA MSA179,7022.96%
244Bowling Green, KY MSA179,63913.27%
245Abilene, TX MSA176,5796.85%
246Muskegon, MI MSA175,8242.11%
247Iowa City, IA MSA175,41914.96%
248Midland, TX MSA175,22023.68%
249Panama City, FL MSA175,2163.77%
250Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA174,24124.24%
251Arecibo, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area173,218-13.16%
252Hattiesburg, MS MSA172,2316.05%
253Eau Claire, WI MSA172,0076.74%
254Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA171,7302.84%
255Burlington, NC MSA171,41513.42%
256Coeur d'Alene, ID MSA171,36223.73%
257Bloomington, IL MSA170,9540.81%
258Greenville, NC MSA170,2431.25%
259Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA MSA168,4610.38%
260East Stroudsburg, PA MSA168,327-0.89%
261Pueblo, CO MSA168,1625.72%
262Wausau-Weston, WI MSA166,4282.22%
263Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA MSA166,3782.10%
264Odessa, TX MSA165,17120.45%
265Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI MSA164,7546.41%
266Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA163,6872.09%
267Bloomington, IN MSA161,0390.93%
268Jackson, MI MSA160,3660.07%
269Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL MSA159,78815.76%
270State College, PA MSA158,1722.72%
271Idaho Falls, ID MSA157,42918.13%
272Decatur, AL MSA156,4941.73%
273Madera, CA MSA156,2553.57%
274Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA MSA155,9324.22%
275Grand Junction, CO MSA155,7036.12%
276Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY MSA155,5724.88%
277Santa Fe, NM MSA154,8237.39%
278Monroe, MI MSA154,8091.83%
279Niles, MI MSA154,316-1.59%
280Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ MSA154,152-1.75%
281Homosassa Springs, FL MSA153,8438.93%
282Hanford-Corcoran, CA MSA152,486-0.32%
283Bangor, ME MSA152,199-1.12%
284Alexandria, LA MSA152,192-1.12%
285Dothan, AL MSA151,0073.69%
286Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL MSA150,7912.48%
287Jefferson City, MO MSA150,3090.34%
288Sioux City, IA-NE-SD MSA149,9404.43%
289Albany, GA MSA148,922-3.21%
290Wichita Falls, TX MSA148,128-2.10%
291Valdosta, GA MSA148,1266.12%
292Texarkana, TX-AR MSA147,519-1.13%
293Logan, UT-ID MSA147,34817.46%
294Flagstaff, AZ MSA145,1017.95%
295Rocky Mount, NC MSA143,870-5.59%
296Lebanon, PA MSA143,2577.25%
297Dalton, GA MSA142,8370.43%
298Morristown, TN MSA142,7094.47%
299Winchester, VA-WV MSA142,63211.02%
300Morgantown, WV MSA140,0387.96%
301La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN MSA139,6274.46%
302Wheeling, WV-OH MSA139,513-5.70%
303Rapid City, SD MSA139,07410.04%
304Napa, CA MSA138,0191.12%
305Sumter, SC MSA136,700-4.02%
306Springfield, OH MSA136,001-1.69%
307Harrisonburg, VA MSA135,5718.26%
308Sherman-Denison, TX MSA135,54312.13%
309Battle Creek, MI MSA134,310-1.35%
310Jonesboro, AR MSA134,19610.88%
311Manhattan, KS MSA134,0465.48%
312Bismarck, ND MSA133,62620.79%
313Johnstown, PA MSA133,472-7.10%
314Carbondale-Marion, IL MSA133,435-4.11%
315Hammond, LA MSA133,1579.96%
316The Villages, FL MSA129,75238.89%
317Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSA129,52310.80%
318Pittsfield, MA MSA129,026-1.67%
319Albany-Lebanon, OR MSA128,61010.23%
320Glens Falls, NY MSA127,039-1.46%
321Lawton, OK MSA126,652-2.79%
322Cleveland, TN MSA126,1648.96%
323Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ MSA125,447-4.49%
324Staunton, VA MSA125,4335.85%
325Ames, IA MSA125,2528.12%
326Mansfield, OH MSA124,9360.37%
327San Angelo, TX MSA122,8888.78%
328Altoona, PA MSA122,822-3.36%
329New Bern, NC MSA122,168-3.65%
330Wenatchee, WA MSA122,01210.04%
331Farmington, NM MSA121,661-6.45%
332Owensboro, KY MSA121,5595.93%
333St. Joseph, MO-KS MSA121,467-4.60%
334San Germán, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area120,280-12.50%
335Lawrence, KS MSA118,7857.18%
336Sheboygan, WI MSA118,0342.19%
337Missoula, MT MSA117,9227.89%
338Goldsboro, NC MSA117,333-4.31%
339Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH MSA116,903-6.07%
340Watertown-Fort Drum, NY MSA116,7210.42%
341Anniston-Oxford, AL MSA116,441-1.80%
342Beckley, WV MSA115,079-7.86%
343Twin Falls, ID MSA114,28314.74%
344Williamsport, PA MSA114,188-1.66%
345California-Lexington Park, MD MSA113,7778.20%
346Brunswick, GA MSA113,4951.00%
347Michigan City-La Porte, IN MSA112,4170.85%
348Muncie, IN MSA111,903-4.90%
349Lewiston-Auburn, ME MSA111,1393.19%
350Longview, WA MSA110,7308.12%
351Kankakee, IL MSA107,502-5.24%
352Ithaca, NY MSA105,7404.11%
353Grand Forks, ND-MN MSA104,3625.99%
354Fond du Lac, WI MSA104,1542.48%
355Decatur, IL MSA103,998-6.11%
356Bay City, MI MSA103,856-3.63%
357Gettysburg, PA MSA103,8522.41%
358Mankato, MN MSA103,5667.06%
359Gadsden, AL MSA103,436-0.95%
360Lima, OH MSA102,206-3.88%
361Sebring-Avon Park, FL MSA101,2352.48%
362Cheyenne, WY MSA100,5129.56%
363Hot Springs, AR MSA100,1804.33%
364Dubuque, IA MSA99,2665.99%
365Rome, GA MSA98,5842.35%
366Victoria, TX MSA98,3314.60%
367Cape Girardeau, MO-IL MSA97,5171.29%
368Fairbanks, AK MSA95,655-1.97%
369Ocean City, NJ MSA95,263-2.06%
370Corvallis, OR MSA95,18411.22%
371Cumberland, MD-WV MSA95,044-7.99%
372Pocatello, ID MSA94,8964.68%
373Mayagüez, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area93,412-19.62%
374Parkersburg-Vienna, WV MSA89,490-3.43%
375Grants Pass, OR MSA88,0906.50%
376Pine Bluff, AR MSA87,751-12.47%
377Great Falls, MT MSA84,4143.80%
378Elmira, NY MSA84,148-5.27%
379Yauco, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area84,112-21.63%
380Kokomo, IN MSA83,6581.09%
381Midland, MI MSA83,494-0.16%
382Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA MSA82,863-3.15%
383Columbus, IN MSA82,2087.05%
384Hinesville, GA MSA81,4244.50%
385Casper, WY MSA79,9555.97%
386Grand Island, NE MSA77,0385.93%
387Danville, IL MSA74,188-9.11%
388Guayama, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area72,240-14.22%
389Lewiston, ID-WA MSA64,3755.73%
390Enid, OK MSA62,8463.74%
391Walla Walla, WA MSA62,5846.47%
392Carson City, NV MSA58,6396.09%

From Metro to Micro

The wide variety of population patterns around the country can make it tricky to divide regions up into uniform units. There are two main divisions to consider when viewing this map:

  1. Metropolitan Areas (metro areas) have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population. These are the largest population centers, sometimes encompassing many counties. In some instances, these metro areas are further subdivided into Metropolitan Divisions.
  2. Micropolitan Areas are the smallest areas measured on this map (indicated by a lighter shade of green). These smaller regions, which are generally located further away from large cities, have at least one urban core area of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people.

One thing to note about all of these definitions is that the cities in these regions must have significant ties to a neighboring region—usually in the form of commuting ties. This is what warrants binding adjacent counties into a measurable area.

Another unique layer of data on this map is the shading that indicates the actual urbanized area within metro areas. In the example of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, it’s easy to see how urban sprawl has expanded the urban area into a number of neighboring counties.

With this context in mind, we’ll take a closer look at three points of interest on the map that show this concept at work with varying degrees of complexity.

Level One: The Central City

The Texas Triangle offers what is perhaps the most straightforward example of metro areas.

central texas metro areas

As seen above, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio anchor their respective regions, and surrounding counties are bundled into a metro area. The surrounding counties have all been identified as having ties to the central county, and, in some cases, the urban area has spread into the neighboring county over time.

Level Two: The City Cluster

The region anchored by Salt Lake City requires more thought to divide into statistical areas.

salt lake city metro area

While there are a number of population centers in the area, including Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, they all have enough of an economic “magnetic pull” to warrant splitting the region into distinct statistical areas.

Of course, regions are always evolving, and occasionally these areas are updated. Salt Lake City and Ogden were previously combined into a single metro area, but were separated in 2005.

Level Three: The Megaregion

New York City is the ultimate challenge for planners looking to categorize population centers into a neat and tidy statistical box.

For one, the contiguous urban area is massive, stretching from the west side of Long Island out to the east side of New Jersey. In addition to New York City itself, the metro area includes 19 other municipalities with over 100,000 people.

Next, NYC is an unparalleled economic magnet. Measuring commuting activity is a challenge because a wide variety of people visit the city for so many different reasons. The interconnectedness of the Northeast Megaregion also adds to the complexity.

new york city metro area

New York-Newark-Jersey City is such a big pie to carve up, that four of the country’s 11 metro divisions (as indicated by the italicized text and dotted lines) occur in this one area.

Blurring the Lines

Population patterns are constantly changing across the country, so the next version of this map may have a number of changes on it. Our “straightforward” Texas Triangle example may become tougher to divide up as the population boom continues in the region.

Here’s how the population of U.S. countries changed over the past decade:

population change U.S. 2010-2020

Further complicating matters is the rapid move to remote work and distributed teams. A key element of these census divisions are commuting ties. With work increasingly not bound by geographic limitations, it remains unclear how that trend will impact this type of statistical exercise in the future.

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Green

Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

This detailed map looks at where humans have (and haven’t) modified Earth’s terrestrial environment. See human impact in incredible detail.

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human impact on earths surface

Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

With human population on Earth approaching 8 billion (we’ll likely hit that milestone in 2023), our impact on the planet is becoming harder to ignore with each passing year.

Our cities, infrastructure, agriculture, and pollution are all forms of stress we place on the natural world. This map, by David M. Theobald et al., shows just how much of the planet we’ve now modified. The researchers estimate that 14.6% or 18.5 million km² of land area has been modified – an area greater than Russia.

Defining Human Impact

Human impact on the Earth’s surface can take a number of different forms, and researchers took a nuanced approach to classifying the “modifications” we’ve made. In the end, 10 main stressors were used to create this map:

  1. Built-Up Areas: All of our cities and towns
  2. Agriculture: Areas devoted to crops and pastures
  3. Energy and extractive resources: Primarily locations where oil and gas are extracted
  4. Mines and quarries: Other ground-based natural resource extraction, excluding oil and gas
  5. Power plants: Areas where energy is produced – both renewable and non-renewable
  6. Transportation and service corridors: Primarily roads and railways
  7. Logging: This measures commodity-based forest loss (excludes factors like wildfire and urbanization)
  8. Human intrusion: Typically areas adjacent to population centers and roads that humans access
  9. Natural systems modification: Primarily modifications to water flow, including reservoir creation
  10. Pollution: Phenomenon such as acid rain and fog caused by air pollution

The classification descriptions above are simplified. See the methodology for full descriptions and calculations.

A Closer Look at Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

To help better understand the level of impact humans can have on the planet, we’ll take a closer look three regions, and see how the situation on the ground relates to these maps.

Land Use Contrasts: Egypt

Almost all of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile and its delta, making it an interesting place to examine land use and human impact.

egypt land use impact zone

The towns and high intensity agricultural land following the river stand out clearly on the human modification map, while the nearby desert shows much less impact.

Intensive Modification: Netherlands

The Netherlands has some of the heavily modified landscapes on Earth, so the way it looks on this map will come as no surprise.

netherlands land use impact zone

The area shown above, Rotterdam’s distinctive port and surround area, renders almost entirely in colors at the top of the human modification scale.

Resource Extraction: West Virginia

It isn’t just cities and towns that show up clearly on this map, it’s also the areas we extract our raw materials from as well. This mountainous region of West Virginia, in the United States, offers a very clear visual example.

west virginia land use impact zone

The mountaintop removal method of mining—which involves blasting mountains in order to retrieve seams of bituminous coal—is common in this region, and mine sites show up clearly in the map.

You can explore the interactive version of this map yourself to view any area on the globe. What surprises you about these patterns of human impact?

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Politics

Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity

Every day, hunger affects more than 700 million people. This live map from the UN highlights where hunger is hitting hardest around the world.

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The World Hunger Map

Interactive Map: Tracking Global Hunger and Food Insecurity

Hunger is still one the biggest—and most solvable—problems in the world.

Every day, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population) go to bed on an empty stomach, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The WFP’s HungerMap LIVE displayed here tracks core indicators of acute hunger like household food consumption, livelihoods, child nutritional status, mortality, and access to clean water in order to rank countries.

The World Hunger Map

After sitting closer to 600 million from 2014 to 2019, the number of people in the world affected by hunger increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, 155 million people (2% of the world’s population) experienced acute hunger, requiring urgent assistance.

The Fight to Feed the World

The problem of global hunger isn’t new, and attempts to solve it have making headlines for decades.

On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.

The event was followed by similar concerts at other arenas around the world, globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations, raising more than $125 million ($309 million in today’s dollars) in famine relief for Africa.

But 35+ years later, the continent still struggles. According to the UN, from 12 countries with the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the world, nine are in Africa.

Country % Population Affected by HungerPopulation (millions)Region
Afghanistan 🇦🇫93%40.4Asia
Somalia 🇸🇴68%12.3Africa
Burkina Faso 🇧🇫61%19.8Africa
South Sudan 🇸🇸60%11.0Africa
Mali 🇲🇱60%19.1Africa
Sierra Leone 🇸🇱55%8.2Africa
Syria 🇸🇾55%18.0Middle East
Niger 🇳🇪55%22.4Africa
Lesotho 🇱🇸50%2.1Africa
Guinea 🇬🇳48%12.2Africa
Benin 🇧🇯47%11.5Africa
Yemen 🇾🇪44%30.0Middle East

Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation, and poverty.

Wasted Leftovers

Although many of the reasons for the food crisis around the globe involve conflicts or environmental challenges, one of the big contributors is food waste.

According to the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, worth approximately $1 trillion.

All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe. Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Solving Global Hunger

While many people may not be “hungry” in the sense that they are suffering physical discomfort, they may still be food insecure, lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development.

Estimates of how much money it would take to end world hunger range from $7 billion to $265 billion per year.

But to tackle the problem, investments must be utilized in the right places. Specialists say that governments and organizations need to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, increase agricultural productivity, and invest in more efficient supply chains.

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