Visual Capitalist November 5, 2018
Iman Ghosh

In 133 BC, Rome was the first city to hit a population of one million people.

While that number might seem small now, the truth is that modern megacities are just a blip in the long timeline of human history.

Today’s interactive data visualization from Our World in Data maps out how many people have lived in urban areas over time, as well as the powerful economic pull of cities after the Industrial Revolution.


The stages of urbanization can be roughly broken into two parts.

1500s – 1900s
Most people lived an agrarian life until the first Industrial Revolution. The urban population quadrupled over this lengthy timeframe, from 4.1% to 16.4%.

Urbanization accompanied the moves away from agricultural employment, but...