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Over the past few decades we have witnessed a global trend of people moving from rural environments and resettling in urban locales. In fact, by the year 2030, the World Health Organization predicts that as many as 60% of the planet’s residents will live in cities. This is a profound change from the preceding millennia of human history, and one with ramifications we have yet to fully understand. What we do know is that already some of most densely inhabited areas give anthills a run for their money. There are also regions where one can roam for hours without seeing their nearest neighbor.
5 The Most Populous City in the World
For sheer number of human beings living within the limits of a city, Shanghai is far and away the most populous city on earth. Shanghai sprawls across 6,340 square kilometers of coastal northeastern China, and has been a continuously inhabited population center for well over fifteen hundred years. How many people make up that population today? Oh, only a little more than twenty three million people. That means more people live in this one municipality than the entire populations of The Netherlands and Denmark combined.
4 The Most Densely Populated Nation on Earth
Tiny, rich as hell and full of people: that’s Monaco, baby! This postage stamp-sized sovereign state is carved out of southern France’s Mediterranean coast, but don’t feel too badly for the French, because Monaco’s land is only 2.02 square kilometers total. You could easily walk across the entire nation several times in a single day. In fact, you could likely do that with your shoelaces tied together, even. But you might bump into a lot of folks while doing it, because this tiny little city-state is home to more than 36,000 people, thus giving it the number #1 spot in national population density with more than 18,000 residents per KM2.
3 The Least Densely Populated Nation on Earth
With more than 1.5 million square kilometers of land and fewer than 2.9 million residents, Mongolia is the world’s least populous sovereign nation. An average KM of Mongolian soil would have only two residents were they spread out evenly across the land. Of course, they’re not, though, largely because much of this rugged country is instead occupied by some of tallest mountains on earth.
2 The Most Densely Populated City in the World
Shanghai may have the most people in total, but Manila has the most human bodies squeezed into every square kilometer. At 1,652,000 people, the population of this Philippine capital city is far smaller than dozens of other global population centers. But, being as Manila is only a little over 38 square kilometers, that means that there are nearly 43,000 people per square KM! Shanghai, for perspective, has only around 3,600 residents per square kilometer, or almost twelve times less density.
1 The Population of the World Itself
Planet Earth is a big place, with a total surface area of around 510 million square kilometers. On this planetary surface (keeping in mind that 70% of it is water) live around 7.1 billion people. A hundred years ago, there were about 1.6 billion of us. 200 years ago, we had not yet reached a billion. And 500 years ago, there were only around 500 million of us. So, as you can see, the population is growing rather rapidly. And as the move toward cities continues as well, one can only wonder whether some day in the future, Shanghai, with its 23 million residents, or Manila, with its 43,000 people per square KM, will seem like sleepy little backwaters to the new megacities.