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Half of humanity now lives in a city, and the United Nations has predicted that 70 per cent of the world's population will reside in urban areas by 2050. Across the developing world, cities gain an average of five million residents every month.

India alone has 48 cities with a population of over one million. The writer Suketu Mehta has described Mumbai - where one can find a million people in a single square mile, where two million residents lack access to latrines, and where the air has ten times the maximum permissible levels of lead - as the 'Maximum City':

'Bombay is the biggest city on the planet of a race of city dwellers', he wrote. 'Bombay is the future of urban civilization on the planet. God help us.'

Over the past eight years Panos photographer Martin Roemers travelled to 22 of the 28 cities currently recognised as "Megacities", those with populations over 10 million people. His work has been published as a photo book by Hatje Cantz (144- pages bound volume, 80 colour photographs, 65) which can be ordered by emailing Martin to

A full text by Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Director of LSE Cities, is available on request.

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