At some point this year, our species will prove Darwin wrong. For the first time since the dawn of civilisation, the human being is about to become a predominantly urban creature: humans have not evolved to fit our habitat, we have changed our habitat to suit ourselves.

Every year, 8.5 million Chinese peasants move into cities. Most of their destinations are mere specks on western maps, if they appear at all. But their populations put them on a par with some of the world’s megalopolises. Britain has five urban centres of more than a million people; China has ninety. A few – Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Nanjing – are well known around the world. The names of many others – Suqian, Suining, Xiantao, Xinghua, Liuan – are unfamiliar even to many Chinese. Nowhere is the staggering urbanisation of the world more evident than in Chongqing. Never heard of it? This is where the pace and scale of urbanisation is probably faster and bigger than anywhere in the world today.

The article takes you from hour-to-hour with individuals living in the middle of this dynamism. From a “bang-bang man” whose only job skill is carrying stuff — to the industrialist who opened a motorcycle repair shop in 1992 and has just fired-up his 14th automobile factory.

Jonathan Watts spends 24 hours in the megalopolis you’ve never heard of.

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For some unknown reason there are few photos in the article. Here is a slideshow for you.

  1. Mike Voice says:

    –> Its population is already bigger than that of Peru or Iraq, with half a million more arriving every year in search of a better life.

  2. Lavi says:


  3. david says:

    Amazing! I believe America was the leap from Europe toward God. Now, I believe China will be the next leap and take hold of the torch leading us into higher global consciousness. Not that America has not achieved greatness, but that it lacks the unification (due to the Left and Right polarization of America) to go into greaterERness.

    After China, the last leap will be Africa. Africa where it all started 100,000 years ago. Africa will lead us directly to God. Not sure if we’ll be around to see Africa be the envy of the world, but China is already happening.

  4. paddler says:

    I have been to Schenzen China and was told this major city of (I forget how many million people) was a tiny fishing village surrounded by swampland just twenty- something years ago. The average age is in the 20’s, (I felt so old walking around there) and it’s growing fast. The entire city looks brand new.

    Apparently the Chinese don’t have as stringent a permitting process as we do when it comes to development.

  5. deebrrs says:

    Possibly you may have heard of it as Chungking, pre WWII if you were around then. It has been around for a while; not a new city. Still, its growth is phenomenal.

  6. ranron says:

    Hell yes, I’ve heard about this city as one of my cousins lives there. When I used to live in China, I would go there sometimes.

    What you might not know is Chongquin is a mountainous region. Its like living in the Rocky Moutains or the Alps (except at a lower altitude and with life).

  7. Steve says:

    Did you know that 9 of the top 10 air polluted cities in the world are in China?

  8. moss says:

    Guess I should interject something about China’s air pollution — since it’s likely most folks think every nation’s problems outside the West has the same causes.

    More than 50% of China’s air pollution has little to do with industrialization; but, exactly the same mechanism that was central to England’s smog up till post-war conversion to electricity and natural gas for home heating and cooking. Most families in China use the cheapest means available for cooking and heating, e.g. open coal fires. As did the UK.

    Until the nation develops alternatives, all the good done through their alternative energy systems and industrial pollution controls — half the problem will continue.

  9. Sidharta Chatterjee says:

    It shows how vigorously China as well as India are growing so fast. That’s amazing, particularly ,of China. China boasts an unprecedented growth story of around 10% GDP rate, with enourmous wealth generation and Capital Resouce Mobilization. China not only conquered the Export Business, but its developing on every sphere of economic parameter. What China has till now achieved after Deng Xiopeng cultivated his dreams 20 years ago, has been unbelievable unless one has been to there to observe. I was there in Zuhai and Shenzhen, last year and shenzhen is developing rapidly. What it took 300 years for US, 100 for Japan and other countries , it took just a couple of decades for the Great Dragon. Well, the dragon has arrived….and its a Dragon for Peace, Love and Prosperity.

  10. Felix says:

    your last statement “Dragon for Peace, Love and Prosperity.”, dear, I have been to China more than few 100 times, but it is still somewhat confusing since Chinese growth story is still confusing, at the expense of labor exploitation, poor sanitary conditions and unconquered corruption. what is the growth about when the growing mass is exploited, has their freedom curtailed and expression subdued? true that their economic growth is amazingly fast, faster than any disaster, but for how long? Its better this way; prosperity at the cost of perpetual suffering of the greater mass of Chinese citizens…

  11. Felix says:

    I would better not speak about India…not much different is it mr. sidharta?


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