Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a pastor in Cagayan de Oro city in the Philippines. I have to admit that I looked it up on the map. As my geography skills probably hover just around average for Americans (as 2006 study reported that 63 percent of young Americans were unable to find Iraq on a map… as evidenced in this video) I was surprised to learn how big Cagayan de Oro is for a city I had never heard of. The 2007 census estimated the population at 553,996 people. By our own 2007 estimates, this would put the city at about the same size as Portland, OR.
This e-mail from a potential Congress 2011 attendee got me thinking though about how different urban areas are globally. The most obvious example of this is population density. I tend to think of Chicago as an incredibly densely populated area but in reality, it doesn’t even crack the top 125 on this list of the most densely populated cities in the world. In fact, it takes up until #90 for Los Angeles, the most densely populates U.S. city, to even factor in. That being said, I think I am ready to learn more about cities on a global scale. How does population density affect oil consumption? How do architecture and public space affect crime and civic engagement? How do culture and faith affect a people’s ability to live together peacefully?
This process of connecting with one of our global partners has been a reminder that people experience immensely different realities depending on their specific contexts. While we need to be rooted in our immediate communities we also need to be connected to global communities. Increasingly, we are learning that we are more connected that we could have ever imagined.
Want to learn more about some of the most densely populated cities in the world? Here is a brief slideshow compiled by Forbes.