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    MEGACITIES: LONDON 3 OF 3

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    Laissez-Faire Social Club

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    MEGACITIES: LONDON PART 3 OF 3

    A Megacity is usually defined as a recognized metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people. Some definitions also set a minimum level for population density (at least 2,000 persons/square km). A megacity can be a single metropolitan area or two or more metropolitan areas that converge upon one another. The term metacity is also sometimes used to describe cities with more than 20 million people.

    In 1800 only 3% of the world's population lived in cities. By the 20th century's close, 47% did so. In 1950, there were 83 cities with populations exceeding one million; but by 2007, this had risen to 468 agglomerations of more than one million. If the trend continues, the world's urban population will double every 38 years, say researchers. The UN forecasts that today's urban population of 3.2 billion will rise to nearly 5 billion by 2030, when three out of five people will live in cities.

    The increase will be most dramatic in the poorest and least-urbanised continents, Asia and Africa. Surveys and projections indicate that all urban growth over the next 25 years will be in developing countries. One billion people, one-sixth of the world's population, now live in shanty towns, which are seen as "breeding grounds" for social problems such as crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, poverty and unemployment.

    In many poor countries overpopulated slums exhibit high rates of disease due to unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of basic health care. By 2030, over 2 billion people in the world will be living in slums. Already over 90% of the urban population of Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda, three of the world's most rural countries, live in slums.

    In 2000, there were 18 megacities – conurbations such as Tokyo, Mexico City, Bombay, Sao Paulo and New York City – that have populations in excess of 10 million inhabitants. Greater Tokyo already has 35 million, more than the entire population of Canada.