The recent millennium marked a symbolic transition in the history of human settlement. Over half of the world's six billion people now live in towns and cities. The world is an urban place. This book identifies and accounts for the characteristics of the contemporary city and of urban society. It analyses the distribution and growth of settlements and explores the social and behavioral characteristics of urban living. The latest theoretical and empirical developments and insights are synthesized and presented in an accessible and engaging way. Emphasis throughout is placed upon the world scale, urban developments being seen as the geographical consequences of the evolution of capitalism. Individual chapters focus upon populations and places, growth and urbanization, urban development as a global phenomenon, socio-economic consequences of global urban development, urban culture and global urban society, world cities and the urban future. This second edition has been extensively updated and referenced. Each chapter includes sets of learning objectives, annotated readings and topics for discussion. Well-illustrated throughout, it will be essential reading for students of Geography, Sociology and Development Studies and all who seek an understanding of how the urban world has evolved and how it will change in the twenty-first century.