Mapping the World’s Urban Population from 1500 – 2050
In 133 BC, Rome was the first city to hit a population of one million people.
While that number might seem small now, the truth is that modern megacities are just a blip in the long timeline of human history.
Today’s interactive data visualization from Our World in Data maps out how many people have lived in urban areas over time, as well as the powerful economic pull of cities after the Industrial Revolution.
Shifting Human Geography
The stages of urbanization can be roughly broken into two parts.
1500s – 1900s
Most people lived an agrarian life until the first Industrial Revolution. The urban population quadrupled over this lengthy timeframe, from 4.1% to 16.4%.
Urbanization accompanied the moves away from agricultural employment, but it was still a slow burn until the 20th century.
1900s – Present
The expansion of the global economy and population saw urbanization skyrocket along with it. The urban public leaped from 16% to 55% today, a trend which comes from both births within urban areas and rising human migration out of rural areas.
This turning point between the centuries becomes pretty clear when we look at the population shifts relative to each other:
What Defines An Urban Area?
While this widely cited data comes from the United Nations, many researchers suggest that the actual numbers are much more dramatic.
Why is there a discrepancy? It turns out that the definition of an urban population varies widely around the world. The UN figures are based on nationally-defined urban shares – but the thresholds and metrics used to calculate these are not uniform. Here are just a few examples:
|Argentina||Localities with 2,000 inhabitants or more.|
|Australia||Significant Urban Centres representing concentrations of urban development with 10,000 inhabitants or more.|
|Belgium||Communes with 5,000 inhabitants or more.|
|Canada||Areas with 1,000 inhabitants or more and at least 400 inhabitants per square kilometre.|
|Iceland||Localities with 200 inhabitants or more.|
|Japan||Cities defined as shi (A municipality that is 50,000 inhabitants or more); 60 per cent or more of the population engaged in urban type of business.|
|Netherlands||In the present publication, municipalities with 20,000 inhabitants or more.|
|United States of America||Territory that meets minimum population density requirements and with 2,500 inhabitants or more.|
Cities That Never Sleep
In 1950, two-thirds of the global population lived in rural areas, but this distribution will be reversed in a matter of decades. Almost 70% of the world will live in urban areas by 2050.
In total, 2.5 billion people could be added to global urban areas by 2050, and a whopping 90% of this increase will take place in Asia and Africa.
By the time the dust has settled, large portions of the urban population will be concentrated in megacities, which are areas defined as having 10 million or more inhabitants. These are projected to be the top 10 megacities by the middle of the 21st century:
|City||Country||2010 Population (millions)||2050 Population (millions)|
Mapped: The Safest Cities in the U.S.
How safe is small town America? This map reveals the safest cities in the U.S. in terms of the total crime rate per every 1,000 residents.
Mapped: The Safest Cities in America
The phrase “small town America” often conjures up images of white picket fences, well-trimmed lawns, and big houses. But how safe is modern-day suburbia in America?
Some of the smallest places in the country can actually be among the most dangerous. Take for example Bessemer, Alabama, with a population of around 26,000 and a violent crime rate of 33.1 per every 1,000 residents.
That said, there are many small cities that are true havens for families across the United States. This map showcases the safest cities in the U.S., using FBI data and Census Bureau populations compiled by NeighborhoodScout in 2023.
Note: The source only considered cities with a population of 25,000 or higher. This report is based on total index crimes reported in each city, which includes arson, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, murder, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault.
Top 100 Safest Cities in the U.S.
40% of the cities in the ranking are located in Northeastern states, which are typically rated the “safest” based on FBI data.
Here’s a closer look at the full list:
|Rank||City||State||Total Crime Rate(per 1,000 residents)||Chance of Beinga Victim|
|1||Ridgefield||Connecticut||1.9||1 in 510|
|2||Franklin||Massachusetts||2.9||1 in 344|
|3||Lake in the Hills||Illinois||3.1||1 in 321|
|4||Marshfield||Massachusetts||3.3||1 in 300|
|5||Arlington||Massachusetts||3.4||1 in 292|
|6||Fulshear||Texas||3.6||1 in 276|
|7||Zionsville||Indiana||3.6||1 in 275|
|8||Lexington||Massachusetts||3.7||1 in 270|
|9||Muskego||Wisconsin||3.8||1 in 265|
|10||Rexburg||Idaho||3.9||1 in 253|
|11||Independence||Kentucky||3.9||1 in 253|
|12||Oswego||Illinois||4.1||1 in 238|
|13||Milton||Massachusetts||4.2||1 in 233|
|14||Needham||Massachusetts||4.2||1 in 233|
|15||White Lake||Michigan||4.2||1 in 233|
|16||Avon Lake||Ohio||4.3||1 in 232|
|17||Madison||Mississippi||4.5||1 in 221|
|18||Wakefield||Massachusetts||4.5||1 in 218|
|19||Windsor||Colorado||4.5||1 in 218|
|20||South Kingstown||Rhode Island||4.7||1 in 212|
|21||Colleyville||Texas||4.8||1 in 206|
|22||West Bloomfield||Michigan||4.9||1 in 204|
|23||Johns Creek||Georgia||4.9||1 in 202|
|24||Billerica||Massachusetts||5.1||1 in 195|
|25||Mason||Ohio||5.1||1 in 192|
|26||Reading||Massachusetts||5.1||1 in 192|
|27||North Andover||Massachusetts||5.2||1 in 190|
|28||Wellesley||Massachusetts||5.2||1 in 189|
|29||Mundelein||Illinois||5.3||1 in 187|
|30||Brandon||Mississippi||5.3||1 in 186|
|31||Cumberland||Rhode Island||5.4||1 in 184|
|32||Andover||Massachusetts||5.4||1 in 182|
|33||Edwardsville||Illinois||5.5||1 in 178|
|34||Little Elm||Texas||5.6||1 in 176|
|35||Merrimack||New Hampshire||5.7||1 in 172|
|36||Waltham||Massachusetts||5.8||1 in 169|
|37||Wylie||Texas||5.9||1 in 169|
|38||Commerce Township||Michigan||5.9||1 in 169|
|39||Milton||Georgia||5.9||1 in 167|
|40||Melrose||Massachusetts||6.0||1 in 164|
|41||Ballwin||Missouri||6.1||1 in 162|
|42||North Kingstown||Rhode Island||6.1||1 in 162|
|43||Beverly||Massachusetts||6.2||1 in 161|
|44||Rochester Hills||Michigan||6.2||1 in 160|
|45||Keller||Texas||6.3||1 in 158|
|46||Shrewsbury||Massachusetts||6.4||1 in 156|
|47||Dracut||Massachusetts||6.4||1 in 155|
|48||Prosper||Texas||6.4||1 in 155|
|49||Newton||Massachusetts||6.5||1 in 152|
|50||Friendswood||Texas||6.5||1 in 152|
|51||McHenry||Illinois||6.5||1 in 152|
|52||Fort Mill||South Carolina||6.6||1 in 151|
|53||Wallingford||Connecticut||6.8||1 in 146|
|54||Caledonia||Wisconsin||6.9||1 in 144|
|55||Belmont||Massachusetts||6.9||1 in 144|
|56||De Pere||Wisconsin||6.9||1 in 143|
|57||Flower Mound||Texas||7.0||1 in 142|
|58||Easton||Massachusetts||7.0||1 in 141|
|59||Highland Park||Illinois||7.0||1 in 141|
|60||Carmel||Indiana||7.2||1 in 138|
|61||Sachse||Texas||7.2||1 in 138|
|62||Algonquin||Illinois||7.2||1 in 137|
|63||Hendersonville||Tennessee||7.2||1 in 137|
|64||San Luis||Arizona||7.3||1 in 136|
|65||Fishers||Indiana||7.3||1 in 135|
|66||Perrysburg||Ohio||7.4||1 in 135|
|67||Lake Stevens||Washington||7.4||1 in 134|
|68||Cheshire||Connecticut||7.4||1 in 134|
|69||Milford||Massachusetts||7.5||1 in 132|
|70||Saratoga Springs||Utah||7.5||1 in 132|
|71||Bella Vista||Arkansas||7.5||1 in 132|
|72||Princeton||New Jersey||7.5||1 in 131|
|73||Bluffton||South Carolina||7.6||1 in 130|
|74||Novi||Michigan||7.6||1 in 130|
|75||Chelmsford||Massachusetts||7.6||1 in 130|
|76||Amherst||Massachusetts||7.7||1 in 129|
|77||Rosemount||Minnesota||7.7||1 in 129|
|78||Gloucester||Massachusetts||7.7||1 in 129|
|79||Syracuse||Utah||7.8||1 in 127|
|80||Waukee||Iowa||7.8||1 in 126|
|81||Mequon||Wisconsin||7.9||1 in 126|
|82||Westfield||Indiana||7.9||1 in 126|
|83||Spring Hill||Tennessee||7.9||1 in 126|
|84||Upper Arlington||Ohio||7.9||1 in 126|
|85||Rahway||New Jersey||7.9||1 in 125|
|86||Montclair||New Jersey||7.9||1 in 125|
|87||Greenwich||Connecticut||8.0||1 in 125|
|88||Hutto||Texas||8.0||1 in 124|
|89||Vestavia Hills||Alabama||8.0||1 in 123|
|90||Brownsburg||Indiana||8.1||1 in 123|
|91||Wilmette||Illinois||8.1||1 in 123|
|92||New Milford||Connecticut||8.1||1 in 122|
|93||Hilliard||Ohio||8.2||1 in 120|
|94||Royal Oak||Michigan||8.2||1 in 120|
|95||Derry||New Hampshire||8.3||1 in 121|
|96||Dublin||Ohio||8.3||1 in 120|
|97||West Warwick||Rhode Island||8.5||1 in 116|
|98||Watertown||Massachusetts||8.5||1 in 116|
|99||Walpole||Massachusetts||8.6||1 in 115|
|100||Kaysville||Utah||8.6||1 in 115|
One quarter of the safest cities are located in Massachusetts, with the vast majority clustered around Boston.
The median population of the cities and towns in the top 100 is just 32,000, and few widely-recognized cities make the list. Carmel, Indiana (#60) is the only city with a population above 100,000 to make the rankings. This would seem to follow the logic that bigger cities are more dangerous, but our map covering the most dangerous cities in America shows that many small cities were just as dangerous, and some even more.
Regardless, small towns can truly be idyllic. For example, a person’s chance of falling victim to crime in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the safest ranked city in the U.S., is just 1-in-510. That’s an overall rate of fewer than two incidents of crime per every 1,000 residents.
One surprising observation from the data is that many of the safest U.S. cities are in very close proximity to some of the most dangerous.
One example that illustrates this is Detroit, which ranks as the sixth most dangerous city in America. Despite this, as shown on the map above, there are four communities nearby that have some of the lowest crime rates in America.
In other words, America’s metro areas contain much contrast, and these insights provide valuable information for individuals and families seeking secure places to live across the country.
Markets4 days ago
Ranked: 15 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets
Markets4 weeks ago
The 25 Best Stocks by Shareholder Wealth Creation (1926-2022)
Business2 weeks ago
Ranked: The 20 Best Franchises to Open in the U.S.
Markets3 days ago
Visualizing the Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs in 2023
Money4 weeks ago
How Much Does it Take to Be Wealthy in America?
Markets2 weeks ago
Ranked: The Highest Paid CEOs in the S&P 500
Misc2 days ago
Ranked: The World’s Top 10 Automotive Exporters (2000-2022)
Business3 weeks ago
Visualizing the Number of Costco Stores, by Country