It’s already the most urban region in the world, but in the coming years more people in Latin America will continue to move to cities. By 2050, the U.N. predicts in a new report, that roughly 90 percent of the region will reside in cities.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) report says that, currently, 80 percent of the region lives in cities. South America dominates the list of the largest cities in Latin America. While Mexico City leads the way with a metropolitan population of 21.4 million, it is followed by São Paulo (19.9 million), Buenos Aires (13 million), Rio de Janeiro (11.5 million), Lima (9.3 million), Bogotá (8.5 million), Caracas (7 million), Santiago (6 million), Belo Horizonte (5.4 million), and Guadalajara (4.4 million).
But as the Associated Press reports, fast urban growth has lead to social inequality and environmental degradation. The U.N. authors believe that the urban story will be different in the coming decades in Latin America. As Erik Vittrup, the head of human settlements of UN-Habitat’s regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean, told the AP:
“We’re at the end of an era of urban explosion, with few exceptions,” said Vittrup. “We’re seeing a reduction in poverty, indigence in urban areas; unemployment is going down.”
Overall, he said, Latin America is primed for “a new urban transition to quality of life, equity and sustainability.”
The percentage of urbanites living in shantytowns is down. Still, the overall number has gone up to 111 million. Though it might actually be better economic situation than staying in the countryside.