What is urbanisation?
Urbanisation is the rise in the percentage of people living in urban areas (towns and cities) in comparison with rural areas.
Useful BBC News interactive web page on the history of urbanisation: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/world/06/urbanisation/html/urbanisation.stm
How is urbanisation happening?
The graph to the left shows how the world’s population has changed over time and is expected to change over time (the black line). The red line shows the number of people living in urban areas. As can be seen from the red line it is expected that the number of people who live in urban areas to rise to as many as 5 billion people living in urban areas. On the other hand the green line which represents rural areas is expected to stop rising at 2010 and then start to decrease from roughly 2020.

Urbanisation in rich countries
Many richer countries in Europe and North America, including the UK, experienced urbanisation during the late 18th and 19th century – during the industrial revolution. As these countries industrialised and expanded their manufacturing, millions of people left the countryside to work in the new urban factories. Today up to 90% of the
population of the richer countries already live in towns and cities, so the rate
of urbanisation is very slow – in the UK it’s just 0.5% a year.

Urbanisation in poorer countries
Urbanisation in poorer countries has only really been happening since the 1950s (although some people did begin leaving the countryside to move to Mumbai in the 19th century). As well as starting later, urbanisation in poorer countries is now
happening much faster than in richer countries, as the poorer countries catch
· In India, 29% of the population now live in cities (about 340 million people). The
rate of urbanisation is about 2.4% a year.
· In Botswana, in southern Africa (awesome country), the percentage of people living in urban areas increased from 4% in 1966 to 60% in 2010.
More than half of the world’s population (over 3.3 billion people) now live in cities. As a result, the number of really big cities (with
populations of over 5 million) is growing. Megacities have over 10 million people are also growing. The map below shows the size and location of the world’s megacities.
Causes of urbanisation
There are a number of reasons why urbanisation is happening. These can be classified as push and pull factors.

Pull factors are those that attract people to major cities
This may include some of the following – Better quality of life, better services (education, health and entertainment), better opportunities, better paid jobs and better housing.

Push factors are those that push people from the countryside to the major cities
This may include some of the following – Lack of services, few opportunities, low pay, rural poverty, drought and flooding.

This results in what is known as rural-urban migration when people move from the countryside to the towns.

Generally younger people migrate to the cities and this results in a high level of natural increase of the populations . This is due to falling death rates due to improved
medical care.
Useful videos
The weblinks explain urbanisation, rural-urban migration and the reasons for it: