More than 95 percent of the world’s population lives in less than 10 percent of the earth’s land area, according to a new study and map by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and published in the World Bank’s World Development Report 2009. The research conceptualizes the world and its cities in terms of accessibility and connectivity measured as proximity and travel time to 8,500 major cities worldwide. Here’s the map.
And here’s a summary of the study in Science Daily:
[H]uman population is more concentrated than ever before. Europe’s urban sprawl gradually fades as we move eastwards into the steppes of central Asia, soon to re-emerge into the dense networks of people and places in India, China and Japan. The attraction of Australia’s coasts is dramatically revealed, while North America appears to adopt a grid system not just for its streets and road networks, but for distribution of the cities themselves.
Cities exercise enormous control over national economies – even the global economy. They provide jobs, access to the best cultural, educational and health facilities and they act as hubs for communication and transport. Of course, they also cluster massive demands for energy, generate large quantities of waste, and concentrate pollution as well as social hardship.
By using travel-time as a unit of measurement … the map represents accessibility through the … concept of “how long will it take to get there?” Accessibility links people with places, goods with markets and communities to vital services. Accessibility – whether it is to markets, schools, hospitals or water – is a precondition for the satisfaction of almost any economic need. Furthermore, accessibility is relevant at all levels, from local development to global trade.