World Cities Day

More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities — and by 2050, this is expected to rise to 66%. This is largely because of the huge population growth expected in China, India and Nigeria.

World Cities Day has been observed on October 31st each year since 2014, in order to raise awareness of the issues raised by the world’s increasing urbanisation — such as rising inequality, environmental difficulties, and rapid migration.

Last year, the United Nations (UN) launched an initiative to encourage the development of “smart” cities, which use technology to reduce their carbon footprint, while improving quality of life for residents.

Despite the urban challenges, World Cities Day is also a chance to celebrate all the wonderful opportunities which cities have to offer. In many cases, urban areas have more employment options and higher levels of productivity, helping to lift people out of poverty. Often they are also thriving creative and cultural hotspots.

For many, this tension between the good and the bad is what makes cities so appealing. Or, as Christopher Morley once wrote: “All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim.”

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London is often called the capital of the world. Explore some amazing maps and graphics about the city in this slideshow.


  1. Class debate: What is the best city in the world?
  2. Design a new “smart” city, following the UN’s encouragement, which uses technology to create a sustainable, connected, open place to live and work.
  3. Write about the last time that you were walking through a city centre. What sights, sounds, and smells did you notice? How has it changed since it was first built, and what might it be like in the future?