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By 1800, still over 90 percent of the global (and country-level) population lived in rural areas.Urbanization in the United States began to increase rapidly through the 19th century, reaching 40 percent by 1900. This increased rapidly, reaching over half of the population by 1950; nearly 80 percent by 2000, and surpassing the USA to over 90 percent today.Here we see that across most countries, urban shares have been increasing. Higher-income countries, particularly across Europe, North America and Australasia already had large urban populations in the mid-20th century.Most had more than half of their population living in urban areas, with some exceeding 80 percent.

By then, both had around 1-in-4 living in urban areas.

Using the timeline feature and "play" button in the bottom-left of the chart, you can explore how this has changed over time.

Also included are UN Urbanization projections to 2050.

As we see, urban living is a very recent development.

For most of our history humans lived in low-density, rural settings.

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