SINGAPORE — The Pearl River Delta comprising a cluster of cities in southern China has overtaken Tokyo as the world’s largest urban area in terms of both population and land area, the World Bank said on Jan 26.
The Pearl River Delta, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan and Dongguan, has 42 million inhabitants, a population larger than that of Argentina, Canada or Malaysia, the bank said in a report on urbanization in East Asia.
The report said that almost 200 million people in East Asia, which includes Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, moved to urban areas in the decade that ended in 2010.
About 36 percent of the population in the region lived in urban areas as of 2010, up from 29 percent at the beginning of the decade.
The report, based on data including those gathered through satellite imagery and geospatial mapping, said that the region has 869 urban areas with more than 100,000 people, including eight megacities with a population of over 10 million as of 2010. Urban areas in the region expanded at an average rate of 2.4 percent per year during the decade, with urban land reaching 134,800 square kilometers in 2010. Urban populations rose at a faster rate of 3 percent.
The report also finds a link between urbanization and income growth.
World Bank urban development expert Abhas Jha said he hopes the report will push policy makers to a shift from a “car centric” to a “people centric” strategy in growing cities to address challenges such as traffic congestions.
The report also said that data shows that only less than one percent of the total area studied is urbanized and that the urbanization in the region has just begun given that only 36 percent of the population is urban.