Urbanization is one of the major trends currently shaping Southeast Asian societies, cultures, economies, businesses and environments. Being on the verge of counting more than half of its population living in urban areas, ASEAN comprises some of the largest and some of the fastest growing cities of the world.
The following infographic details urbanization in ASEAN and its largest and fastest growing cities, as it is one of the key forces that shape the future of Southeast Asia. It was realized from the data compiled by the United Nations and its projections for the coming years and decades published in the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects.
In the data aggregated in this infographic (ASEAN countries population and demographic growth, urbanization rates, largest cities and upcoming ones for 2025), here are some key particularities and important characteristics to remember.
These aspects are especially important for business sectors that could be interested in riding the urbanization wave of ASEAN, such as construction, architecture, real estate, retail, transport, media…
Population growth and rural exodus in Southeast Asia
ASEAN countries and their populations are very disparate, from 430,000 in Brunei to 256 million people in Indonesia in 2015. However, all ASEAN countries are growing: with a total population of more than 630 million in 2015, the region is expected to gather more than 660 million inhabitants in 2020 and more than 720 million by 2030.
In terms of urbanization rates, Southeast Asian countries also have great disparities which can become a strength for the whole region. Instead of similar countries competing against one another, ASEAN brings together different countries that complement one another and can benefit from each other and together as a diverse whole.
From the 100% urbanization of Singaporean city-state, Malaysia and Brunei form a highly urban group before the bulk of semi-urban Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) and followed by Cambodia which is still predominantly rural.
Largest and fastest growing cities in ASEAN
Some Southeast Asian cities are already some of the most populated metropolises in the world in 2015, with millions of inhabitants:
- Manila (Philippines): 12.9 million
- Jakarta (Indonesia): 10.3 million
- Bangkok (Thailand): 9.3 million
- Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam): 7.3 million
- Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): 6.8 million
- Singapore: 5.6 million
- Yangon (Myanmar): 4.8 million
Though these megapoles will keep on growing in the coming years and decades, it is the second-tier cities that will experience the fastest growth, as they will drain populations from neighboring region from rural exodus. The UN’s projections for the coming years and decades show that many smaller cities will see a population boom, especially:
- Samut Prakan (Thailand) will grow from 1.8 M inhabitants in 2015 to 2.9 M in 2025: 62.3% growth
- Batam (Indonesia), from 1.4 M to 2.2 M: +60.8%
- Vientiane (Laos), from 0.99 M to 1.6 M: +54.5%
- Denpasar (Indonesia), from: 1.1 M to 1.7 M: +51.9%