Urban Population (%)

Indicator name
(English / Spanish)
Urban Population (%)
Población urbana (%)
Indicator ID Pop_Urban_Prop_Per_100
Domain Sociodemographic
Subdomain Demographic

Proportion of the population of a country, territory or geographic area that resides in areas defined as urban, at a given time, usually in mid-year (July 1). It is expressed as a percentage of the total population.

The classification of urban area is defined by the countries as part of their census procedures, so a single definition cannot be applied to all countries. It refers essentially to cities, towns and other densely populated areas, also considering other criteria such as the size of the population in the localities, the distance between common areas, the type of predominant economic activity, administrative or legal limits, the level of availability, and access to basic services.

Unit Percent
Measure Proportion
Type of statistics Corrected/Predicted

The proportion of the population residing in urban areas is used to measure the need for basic services. It supports the budget allocation and the planning, management and evaluation of national public policies related to health, education, work and social security. It also contributes to the analysis of health inequalities.

Together with the proportion of the population residing in rural areas, it makes it possible to evaluate the effects of migratory flows by analyzing changes in the territorial and temporal distribution of the population.

Method of estimation

The urban population data represent mid-year estimated values (July 1), obtained by linear interpolation of the corresponding United Nations five-year urban population projections, using the medium-variant projections.

Interpretation example

The percentage of urban population in country A in 2018 was 80.8%, that is, 8 out of 10 people resided in areas considered urban.

Disaggregation Urban-rural area

There is no internationally agreed definition of urban-rural area and national operational definitions may vary from country to country and may also be modified over time.

International comparability of this indicator may be limited due to the quality of population censuses, civil registration systems, or demographic surveys on the basis of which estimates are made.

The estimates of this indicator may differ from the calculations made by each country, due to factors such as methodological differences, for example, to prepare population estimates and projections.

Data source

For countries with a population greater than 90 thousand inhabitants:
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects. Available in:United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects. Available from: https://population.un.org/wpp/

For countries with a population of less than 90 thousand inhabitants:
Census Bureau of the United States of America. International database. Available from: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/international-programs/about/idb.html

PAHO update periodicity Annual
Link to SDG


PAHO Contact Andrea Gerger, gergeran@paho.org
Update date August 13, 2021