world's most urban countries

Concrete jungles: the world’s most urban countries

City life is stressful. It presses on our weary bones, wafts through windows on pungent fumes and boxes up our personal space. It affects our mental health and, according to a 2011 study by neuroscientist Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, increases the risk of mood and anxiety disorders including depression and schizophrenia. The specific causes of city stress are unconfirmed but it’s likely we can safely assume a mix of toxins, pollutants, noise and social behaviours unique to cities.

Noise in particular has been identified as a culprit of heightened stress among city dwellers. A 2014 study based in the Dutch city of Maastricht found that “residents of neighborhoods with more car traffic nuisance and more disturbance from railway noise reported worse mental health.” With increasing urbanisation all across the world, it’s clear that governments need to examine and invest in ways to mitigate the negative effects of city living.

In some countries, the percentage of the population living in urban areas has already reached 100. Below, we list the world’s most urban countries based on data from The World Bank. This is based on the percentage of people living in urban areas as defined by national statistical offices, and is calculated using World Bank population estimates and urban ratios from the United Nations World Urbanisation Prospects.

RankCountry% population in urban areas
1Hong Kong SAR, China100
2Singapore100
3Bermuda100
4Macao SAR, China100
5Cayman Islands100
6Sint Maarten (Dutch part)100
7Monaco100
8Qatar99
9Kuwait98
10Belgium98
11Malta95
12Virgin Islands (U.S.)95
13Uruguay95
14Guam94
15San Marino94
16Iceland94
17Puerto Rico94
18Japan93
19Israel92
20Turks and Caicos Islands92
21Argentina92
22Netherlands90
23Luxembourg90
24Curacao89
25Chile89
26Australia89
27Northern Mariana Islands89
28Venezuela, RB89
29Bahrain89
30Lebanon88
31Denmark88
32American Samoa87
33Gabon87
34Palau86
35New Zealand86
36Greenland86
37Sweden86
38Andorra86
39Brazil85
40United Arab Emirates85
41Finland84
42Jordan83
43Saudi Arabia83
44Bahamas, The83
45Korea, Rep.82
46United Kingdom82
47Canada82
48United States81
49Norway80
50Spain79
51France79
52Mexico79
53Libya78
54Peru78
55Dominican Republic78
56Greece78
57Djibouti77
58Oman77
59Cuba77
60Brunei Darussalam77
61Belarus76
62Colombia76
63Costa Rica76
64Germany75
65West Bank and Gaza75
66Malaysia74
67Russian Federation74
68Switzerland74
69Bulgaria74
70Czech Republic73
71Turkey73
72Iran, Islamic Rep.73
73Marshall Islands72
74Mongolia71
75Hungary71
76Algeria70
77New Caledonia70
78Ukraine69
79Iraq69
80Dominica69
81Italy69
82Bolivia68
83Estonia68
84Latvia67
85Cyprus67
86Tunisia67
87Lithuania67
88Panama66
89El Salvador66
90Suriname66
91Austria66
92Congo, Rep.65
93Cabo Verde65
94Sao Tome and Principe65
95South Africa64
96Montenegro64
97Ecuador64
98Ireland63
99Portugal63
100Armenia63
101Korea, Dem. Rep.61
102Poland61
103Morocco60
104Paraguay59
105Mauritania59
106Gambia, The59
107Tuvalu59
108Croatia59
109Nicaragua58
110Haiti57
111Syrian Arab Republic57
112Botswana57
113Macedonia, FYR57
114Albania56
115French Polynesia56
116Serbia55
117Jamaica55
118China54
119Romania54
120Azerbaijan54
121Honduras54
122Cameroon54
123Slovak Republic54
124Seychelles54
125Cote d’Ivoire53
126Georgia53
127Ghana53
128Fiji53
129Kazakhstan53
130Indonesia53
131Isle of Man52
132Guatemala51
133St. Vincent and the Grenadines50
134Slovenia50
135Turkmenistan50
136Liberia49
137Thailand49
138Guinea-Bissau49
139Nigeria47
140Namibia46
141Moldova45
142Maldives44
143Philippines44
144Kiribati44
145Belize44
146Benin44
147Senegal43
148Angola43
149Egypt, Arab Rep.43
150Congo, Dem. Rep.42
151Aruba42
152Faeroe Islands42
153Zambia40
154Mauritius40
155Central African Republic40
156Equatorial Guinea40
157Bosnia and Herzegovina40
158Sierra Leone40
159Togo39
160Mali39
161Somalia39
162Pakistan38
163Bhutan38
164Lao PDR38
165Guinea37
166Uzbekistan36
167Kyrgyz Republic36
168Grenada36
169Madagascar34
170Yemen, Rep.34
171Sudan34
172Myanmar34
173Bangladesh34
174Vietnam33
175Zimbabwe33
176India32
177Timor-Leste32
178St. Kitts and Nevis32
179Mozambique32
180Barbados32
181Tanzania31
182Burkina Faso29
183Guyana28
184Comoros28
185Rwanda28
186Lesotho27
187Tajikistan27
188Afghanistan26
189Vanuatu26
190Kenya25
191Antigua and Barbuda24
192Tonga24
193Micronesia, Fed. Sts.22
194Chad22
195Eritrea22
196Solomon Islands22
197Swaziland21
198Cambodia21
199Samoa19
200Ethiopia19
201South Sudan19
202St. Lucia18
203Niger18
204Sri Lanka18
205Nepal18
206Malawi16
207Uganda16
208Liechtenstein14
209Papua New Guinea13
210Burundi12
211Trinidad and Tobago9

Source: The World Bank

For incredible, beautiful, terrifying depictions of life in Hong Kong, see Architecture of Density by Michael Wolf. 

(Lead image: Michael Wolf)

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