High risk: 40% of world population lives near coasts
Close to 40% of the world’s total population lives within 100 km of the coast, and this proportion is only growing.
Civilization, commerical activity and urbanization have historically tended to cluster around ports, and this is trend continues. In 2007, 14 of the world’s 19 biggest cities, including Tokyo, New York, Mumbai and Shanghai, were located in close proximity to the sea or a major water body, according to UN HABITAT.
This pattern continues at regional level too. Fourteen of the 20 largest cities in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean are located on a coastline or along river bank. In Asia, 17 of the region’s 20 largest cities are either coastal, on a river bank or in a delta. China’s eastern coast’s cities are driving the country’s economic boom, growing five times as fast as inland areas, according to UN HABITAT.
Eighty five of the world’s countries are entirely coastal meaning that 100% of their population lived within 100 km of the coast in 2000, according to the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of Columbia University. In India, 23% of the population lives within 100 km of the coast and 35% lives within 200 km of the coast. Population densities in coastal city areas were close to 100 people per square kilometer compared with inland densities of 38 people per square kilometer in 2000.
This trend is more pronounced in the developing than in the developed world. The one exception is Japan, which, with an average population density of 1,500 inhabitants per square kilometer in its urban low elevation coastal zones, is as densely populated on its low elevation coastline as the developing world. Within the coastal population, 71% live within 50 kilometers of estuaries; in tropical regions, settlements are concentrated near mangroves and coral reefs.
According to estimates by the scientists at the Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, by 2025, the proportion of the world’s population that lives within 100 km from the coast will have increased by 35% over 1995.
IN DANGER ZONE
The 10 biggest countries that are fully coastal (100% population within 100km of the coast): Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, North Korea, Cuba, Greece, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Hong Kong.