By 2000, most of us will live in cities

WITHIN the next four years, humanity will, for the first time in its two million year history, become a predominantly urban species, writes Geoffrey Lean. Experts agree that, by 2000, more people will be living in the world's towns and cities than in the countryside.

This change of habitat is happening at astonishing speed. The world's urban population is growing far faster than the already rapid increase in human numbers as a whole and will almost double over the next 30 years.

"As recently as 1975, just over one third of the world's people lived in urban areas," says a report by three top international bodies, including the World Bank, and a leading think-tank. "By 2025, the proportion will have risen to almost two thirds." In 1900, only New York and London had more than 8 million people; now, London is not even among the world's top 25 cities, which are headed by Tokyo with 26.8 million people.

The report, to be published this week, is one of the first shots in a campaign to alert governments to a coming urban crisis.

Inside Story, page 17

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