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People have been living in cities for thousands of years, first migrating and settling near ocean coasts or river valleys as a way to sustain life. Permanent settlements began to be established at the dawn of human history when people discovered the advantages of living and working together. Many of these simple settlements of millenia past have evolved continuously into diverse metropolitan centers, but for most of history the majority of the world's population still inhabited rural country regions.
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The rise of the industrial revolution in the late 1800s resulted in a great urban migration as many people moved closer to cities looking for employment. Subsequently, many cities began to establish themselves as hubs of technology, culture, and entertainment, contributing to a further expanding urban population and paving the way for a shift in population density. After 2007, the majority of the world's inhabitants no longer resided in rural areas.
The current population of regions designated as "cities" varies widely. The tiny capital city of Adamstown in the Pitcairn Islands of the South Pacific has a population of around 50, while the enormous metropolis of Tokyo, Japan boasts over 32 million. Cities around the world range from relatively young to historically rich centers such as Damascus and Jericho which have been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. Many of today's large cities are not only hubs for global travel but also important worldwide financial centers.
Currently, there are more people worldwide living in cities than rural regions, and the urban population is growing at an enormous rate. An estimated 180,000 new people move to cities around the world every day in search of employment and habitation. Currently, there are over 450 cities worldwide with populations of over one million, and the United Nations estimates that 60% of the world's population will live in cities by the year 2030. Over 80% of the U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas and the number is expected to continue to grow in conjunction with the explosion of the worldwide urban population.
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City Maps - History of Cities - Urban Demographic Trends