Just over 40% of the EU population lives in cities

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The FINANCIAL — Out of 100 persons in the European Union (EU) in 2014, 40 were living in densely-populated areas (or cities), 28 in thinly-populated (or rural) areas and 32 in intermediate areas (or towns and suburbs). There are significant discrepancies between the EU Member States, some of them having a mainly urban population while in others the population is mainly rural.

With an overall average score of 6.9 on a scale from 0 to 10, the EU urban population aged 16 and over was globally satisfied with their city’s offer of recreational and green spaces, albeit to a lesser extent than the population living in thinly-populated areas (7.4/10).

On the occasion of today’s World Habitat Day, whose theme is “Public spaces for all”, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, publishes some information on the population in the EU living in cities.

The UK with the most urban population, Luxembourg with the most rural

In the EU in 2014, the share of the population living in cities stood at 40.2% in 2014, compared with 27.8% for rural areas and 32.0% for towns and suburbs. Across Member States, more than half of the population was living in cities in the United Kingdom (58.6%) and Cyprus (54.7%). A large part of the population was also concentrated in urban areas notably in Spain (48.5%), Malta (48.0%), Bulgaria (45.7%) and the Netherlands (45.2%).

In contrast, the largest share of the population was living in rural areas in Luxembourg (51.0%), followed by Slovenia (49.8%), Lithuania (47.6%), Slovakia (45.6%), Denmark (44.4%), Ireland (43.5%) and Romania (43.1%). The population living in intermediate areas was predominant in Belgium (57.1%), while the population was almost evenly distributed between urban, intermediate and rural areas in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Finland.

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Highest satisfaction with cities’ public spaces in the Nordic Member States

On a scale from 0 (“not satisfied at all”) to 10 (“fully satisfied”), EU residents aged 16 and over and living in cities rated their satisfaction with recreational and green spaces at 6.9. Among the EU Member States, satisfaction with recreational and green areas for the population living in densely-populated areas was highest in the three EU Nordic Member States: Finland (8.5/10), Sweden (8.2/10) and Denmark (8.0/10). At the opposite end of the scale, urban populations with the lowest rated satisfaction were those living in Greece (5.0/10), Bulgaria (5.3/10) and Cyprus (5.9/10).


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