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Growth of China's cities fastest in human history

The map below shows the explosive urbanization in the mostly North China Plain. The red pixels are urban areas, yellow is farmland, and gray is everything else. It was made using a new land cover dataset from the European Space Agency, which reanalyzed data from five different satellite missions and combined it into one dataset.

Why it matters: The scale and speed of urbanization in China has no parallel in human history. According to data from the United Nations, China's urban population in 2000 was about 459 million. In 2015, it increased to about 780 million — that growth is equivalent to roughly the population of the United States moving from the countryside to large cities in the space of 15 years.