Wednesday, June 2

Our World

I'm taking a class on Mission Strategies. This week's lecture delved into thoughts on urban/rural and rich/poor ministries. I found the following statistics to be quite fascinating and thought I'd share them with you, in case you're into that type of thing.

Simply consider the following:

1. The world’s population has exploded over the last two hundred years.
  • It is estimated that by the time farming techniques were introduced and the paradigm shift from nomads to settled people took place around 8,000 BC, the world’s population was approximately 100,000,000 and 99.9% rural.
  • By the time of Christ, it had grown to 169,000,000 (an addition of only 69,000,000 over the previous 8,000 years)!
  • By 1650 AD, there was an estimated 500,000,000 people on the planet.
  • That grew to the first BILLION by 1830 - 180 years to double!
  • Over the next 70 years, and with the advent of the Industrial Age, the population jumped to 1,620,000,000 by 1900.
  • The 100 years from 1900 to 2000 saw the population EXPLODE fivefold to 6,070,000,000.
  • By 2050 it will grow by another 50% to almost 9 BILLION.
  • Some project that the earth’s population will reach 14 BILLION before leveling off sometime in this century. (Frank Jansen, ed. Target Earth. Colorado Springs: Global Mapping International. 1989:12.)
  • Presently, there are 6,453,628,000 people inhabiting the earth of which 49% are classified as “urban dwellers”. In 1900 it was closer to 14% urban! (David Barret and Todd M. Johnson, “Documenting Global Statistics of World Mission” in The International Bulletin of Missionary Researc”, Vol 29, No 1. January 2005:28-29.)
2. The growth of the world’s cities, however, superseded the pace of population growth.
  • Enoch, the first city to be built (Gen 4.17), rose from the Middle Eastern plains soon after man was ousted from the Garden of Eden and in direct disobedience to God’s commands to Cain.
  • Babel, the first major center of urban power was built by Nimrod - who was some kind of city builder! Check out Genesis 10.9-12 and count the number of cities this man built. Nimrod was a compulsive city builder! I dare say his equal has not since been duplicated.
  • Jericho, the oldest existing city on earth, was probably first built around 8,900 BC. Its population at that time was estimated to be around 3,000.
  • 4400 BC - The Mesopotamia Valley sees the emergence of cities, city states and local powers vying for control.
  • 1360 BC - the world’s five largest cities were:
    • Thebes - 100,000
    • Memphis - 74,000
    • Babylon - 54,000
    • Chengchow - 40,000
    • Khattushas - 40,000 (capital city of the old Hittite Empire)
  • 650 BC - Nineveh is the world’s largest city at 120,000.
  • 100 AD - Rome is the world’s largest city at 1,100,000. Sixty percent of these were slaves.
  • 100 AD - Teotihuacán is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere at 160,000. This is present day Mexico City!
  • 1800 AD - Peking is the world’s largest city at 1,100,000.
  • 1850 AD - London is the world’s largest city at 2,320,000. New York has 682,000 (3rd place).
  • 1900 AD - London is the world’s largest city at 6,480,000. New York is in second place with 4,242,000.
  • 1925 AD - New York is the world’s largest city at 7,774,000. London is now in second place at 7,742,000.
  • 1990 AD - Tokyo is the world’s largest city at 23,000,000, and New York is 4th. London is no longer in the top ten.
  • In 1800 only 2% of our world population of 903 million was urban. By 1900, 9% of a world population of 1,620,000,000 people had come to the city, but by 2000 almost 50% of our world population of 6,070,000,000 was classified as urban. (David Barrett. World-Class Cities and World Evangelization. Birmingham: New Hope. 1986:39-46.)

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