While it might sound like a difficult concept to grasp, urbanization is simple: it is meant to answer one question: how many people in a country do live in cities?
Urbanization is often linked with a wide variety of social and economic factors. It is also associated with population growth and many other things that have a prominent impact on the quality of life and on many other things that affect people every day. Different countries and areas might experience different urbanization rates, and having a look at the urbanization factor of a nation might be a good way to learn more about it. A more urbanized nation usually has more densely populated cities, while countries with low urbanization rates are generally more rural. This is definitely a generic example, but before we dive deeper and crush some numbers related to some specific countries, it is important to take a step back and answer one question: what is urbanization?
Long story short, urbanization is simply the process of making an area more urban. Most people get confused with the term “gentrification,” which is not exactly the same thing. Urbanization is about modernizing the landscape: turning a few houses into a well-connected town that’s accessible and creates community in the most modern sense of what it means. On the other hand, gentrification is a process that occurred within an urban community as areas that have been historically regarded as dangerous or low-income are becoming more expensive and sought-after. As cities grow, areas that have been previously considered undesirable start to become pricier, appealing to businesses and people.
Just to clarify, higher urbanization rates do not necessarily mean that a country is more developed than another. In fact, it is not always the case. A territory like Hong Kong is highly urbanize, as most of its residents live in a city environment. However, Sweden, a country that is considered highly advanced, has a fairly low urbanization rate because most Swedish cities are fairly small and not as densely populated, with the exception of some of their large towns, such as Stockholm or Gothenburg.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s check out some urbanization stats by country!
Kuwait, Monaco, and Nauru happen to be the countries with the highest rates of urbanization. This might seem surprising, but if you really think about it, these are relatively small countries whose people are highly concentrated in urban hubs. In the case of Monaco, the entire country is literally an urban area! Vatican City is barely even a country, and it is one of the most urbanized in the world with an urban population rate that is 100% - Not surprising, considering that the entire nation is actually located within the city of Rome, Italy, a large urban area in itself!
By contrast, a country like India has a rather low urbanization rate, ranking at number 161 worldwide. The country is home to some of the biggest cities in the world, but there are just as many people who live in non-urban areas.