Washington: Cities in India, China and Africa are recording the world`s highest rates of urbanisation, according to a new study.
Population growth is driving urbanisation, especially in developing regions like India, says Burak Güneralp, research assistant professor in geography at Texas A&M University.
"This massive urbanisation...is happening worldwide, but India, China and Africa have experienced the highest rates of urban land expansion," Güneralp explains.
Güneralp, who led the study, says by 2030 expanding cities will gobble up a landmass as big as Mongolia or 590,000 sq miles, globally.
He is part of a team that includes three other researchers from Yale, Stanford and Arizona State, the journal Public Library of Science ONE reports.
"Our study covered the 30 years from 1970 to 2000, and we found that urban growth is occurring at the highest rates in developing countries," according to a Texas statement.
The United Nations predicts that by 2030 there will be an additional 1.47 billion people living in urban areas.
"Where cities grow the most seem to be near coastal areas, and this is a very noticeable trend," Güneralp says.
"This makes coastal areas a special area of concern because people and infrastructures are at risk to rising sea levels, flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters. "All over the world, people like to live by the water, so it`s a trend that will likely not change."
Güneralp adds that often urbanisation occurs near lands that are environmentally sensitive and in some cases, protected by law.