Mapping the World's Proximity to Urban Areas

When it's said that most people live in cities, a significant portion of that number are people living in suburbs near cities. A new map shows just how far everyone travels to get to a big city.

January 16, 2018, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Ken Cook / Flickr

Jessica Stewart shares news of a new mapping project by the University of Oxford's Malaria Atlas Project, published by the journal Nature, by citing the oft-quoted-but-largely-misleading statistic about 50 percent of the world's population living in cities. The study's findings are more nuanced than that lede-friendly nugget: in 2015, 80.7% of all people lived within an hour of a city.

Other findings of the study including insight into the geography of poverty:

In some areas, like sub-Saharan Africa, access to the city is also a large indicator of wealth, with only 50% of people living in low-income areas residing within an hour of the city. This is in stark contrast to people living in high-income areas, as 90.7% of these individuals can reach the city in less than an hour.

The Malaria Atlas Project made its findings public as an interactive online map and data explorer.

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