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The Globalization Index 2007: Urban Outfitted

Why the least-globalized countries should be wary of their boomtowns.

Cities can be a blessing or a curse. Millions leave their villages each year and head to bustling cities to find a better life. But urban centers can also be home to massive slums or sprawl — and the crime, disease, and poverty that come with it. It is generally true that the more urban a country, the more globalized it tends to be. Top-ranking Singapore is the best example; it is 100 percent urban, and its citizens are well educated and relatively affluent. Meanwhile, a less globalized society like Bangladesh is a quarter urban. In fact, less globalized countries often have faster-growing cities. And that is hardly good news. For example, in low-ranking Nigeria, the urban jungle grows by more than 2.5 million people each year. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, was originally designed for a population of 1 million people; today that number stands at 12 million, and demographers predict that the city will be home to more than 23 million people by 2015. Pressures that great can push any city beyond its breaking point.

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