The World Countries Urban Population Size dataset comprises information on urban population per each country for the period 1500-2000. Data has been gathered and organized in 50-years intervals, using as geographical reference the current list of existing world countries


Jonathan Fink-Jensen

Production date



Urban Population


Demography, population sizes, world countries, urban population

Time period


Geographical coverage

Entire World

Methodologies used for data collection and processing

The urban population for each country has been estimated by summing up the number of inhabitants for each city within a given country as given by Eltjo Buringh (see: sources). For China, the urban population is unknown for this period. Urbanization ratio's as calculated by Xu, Van Leeuwen and Van Zanden (2015) have been given for 1630, 1644, 1776, 1851, 1893, and 1918. The urban population for these years has been calculated by multiplying the urbanization ratio with the total population in China as estimated by other authors (see dataset: `World Countries Total Population, 1500-2000'). It is, however, important to note that Buringh's database consists of urban settlements with a minimal size of 5.000 inhabitants in 1850 or a minimal size of 100.000 in 2000, whereas the figures as given by Xu, Van Leeuwen and Van Zanden for China include cities with more than 2,000 inhabitants

Period of collection

April 2015

Data collectors

Jonathan Fink-Jensen

i. Central statistical agencies ii. Historical reconstructions iii. Estimates iv. Conjectures

General references

Buringh, Eltjo, Urbanization Hub. The Clio-Infra database on urban settlement sizes: 1500-2000

(http://www.cgeh.nl/urbanisation-hub: 27-4-2015).

Xu, Yi, Bas van Leeuwen and Jan Luiten van Zanden, `Urbanization in China, 1100-1900', CGEH

Working Paper Series, 63 (2015).


Anguilla[No Data]

Antigua and Barbuda1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Aruba[No Data]

Bahamas1500 (5)-2013 (23)

Barbados1500 (5)-2016 (28)

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba[No Data]

British Virgin Islands[No Data]

Cayman Islands[No Data]

Cuba1500 (8)-2016 (35)

Curaçao[No Data]

Dominica1500 (5)-2016 (21)

Dominican Republic1500 (6)-2018 (38)

Grenada1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Guadeloupe[No Data]

Haiti1500 (6)-2018 (36)

Jamaica1500 (6)-2018 (35)

Martinique[No Data]

Montserrat[No Data]

In 2010, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a subsidy to the Clio Infra project, of which Jan Luiten van Zanden was the main applicant and which is hosted by the International Institute of Social History (IISH). Clio Infra has set up a number of interconnected databases containing worldwide data on social, economic, and institutional indicators for the past five centuries, with special attention to the past 200 years. These indicators allow research into long-term development of worldwide economic growth and inequality.

Global inequality is one of the key problems of the contemporary world. Some countries have (recently) become wealthy, other countries have remained poor. New theoretical developments in economics - such as new institutional economics, new economic geography, and new growth theory - and the rise of global economic and social history require such processes to be studied on a worldwide scale. Clio Infra provides datasets for the most important indicators. Economic and social historians from around the world have been working together in thematic collaboratories, in order to collect and share their knowledge concerning the relevant indicators of economic performance and its causes. The collected data have been standardized, harmonized, and stored for future use. New indicators to study inequality have been developed. The datasets are accessible through the Clio Infra portal which also offers possibilities for visualization of the data. Clio Infra offers the opportunity to greatly enhance our understanding of the origins, causes and character of the process of global inequality.