Humans are the most mobile species on Earth. We are able to trav­el from one side of the world to the oth­er faster than the speed of sound, thanks to our inventions.

We’ve pop­u­lat­ed almost every dry part of the plan­et, from moun­tain tops to islands.

We have built mas­sive cities to live in, some home to more than 10-mil­lion people.

Our migra­to­ry instincts are strong. But migra­tion isn’t always vol­un­tary and often aris­es out of con­flict, often over resources.

As social ani­mals, humans are com­fort­able liv­ing in large groups. But mod­ern urban­iza­tion is often fuelled by con­flict and social prob­lems such as unem­ploy­ment in rur­al areas and the (often unful­filled) promise of a bet­ter life in the city.

Tokyo

By 2003, Tokyo had a pop­u­la­tion of 35-mil­lion, mak­ing it the largest urban area in the world

In 1900, only about 10 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lived in cities, but by 2000 this had increased to near­ly 50 percent.

Over the next 30 years, the world’s urban pop­u­la­tion is expect­ed to grow to 5-bil­lion, with urban growth pro­ject­ed most­ly in devel­op­ing countries.

Big cities are a glob­al phe­nom­e­non: think of Sao Paulo, Mex­i­co City, Lon­don, Moscow, Tokyo, Lagos, Mum­bai and New York.

In 1800, Tokyo (then called Edo), had a pop­u­la­tion of about 700,000. In 1900, this had grown to 1.5-million. By 2003, Tokyo had a pop­u­la­tion of 35-mil­lion, mak­ing it the largest urban area in the world.

Big cities often sym­bol­ise eco­nom­ic, social and cul­tur­al growth.

Our human need for shel­ter and mate­r­i­al com­fort is not good for our plan­et. We spend a stag­ger­ing 30% of world ener­gy flow a year on light­ing, heat­ing and cooling.

Return to the Exhi­bi­tion Guide.