Population growth: Fastest growing urban area? It may surprise you

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It has a smaller population than San Jose, Calif. -- but it’s the fastest growing urban area in the world.

New estimates from the United Nations peg Samut Prakan as the population center expected to grow the most between 2010 and 2015, its population anticipated to surge 9%. The Thai province located south of Bangkok is known for its fishing and boasts that it has the world’s largest crocodile farm.


Close behind are the booming metropolises of Can Tho (Vietnam), Mogadishu (Somalia), Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso.)

Of course, it’s easier for little cities to grow quickly, and even with big growth smaller burgs like Mogadishu and Yamoussoukro aren’t going to catch up to Tokyo, Delhi or Los Angeles anytime soon.

But the cities on the list reflect a wider trend: Africa and Asia are expected to make up 86% of the growth in urban populations worldwide in the decades leading up to 2050, according to the United Nations. Newly released estimates show the urban population in Africa is expected to roughly triple, exceeding 1.2 billion; urbanites in Asia will soar from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion.

There’s an upside to urbanization: Educating people and bringing them other services is easier when they’re clustered in cities. The downside: Countries will have to scramble to provide enough urban jobs, housing, energy and infrastructure to avoid an explosion of slums, the U.N. says.

Where in the world is urbanizing fastest? The United Nations map above shows which cities are anticipated to grow the most between 2011 and 2025. For more information, check out the U.N. website, which includes online databases showing the projected growth of urban areas worldwide.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles