Planet of Slumdog Millionaires


(Geo)graphic extracted from an Atlantic article by Matthew Quirk, which strangely doesn’t mention Mike Davis.

Dave Kaplan put me onto the most astounding book, Planet of Slums by Mike Davis.  I think his quote was “You know, there is a slum that’s like 400 miles long on the coast of West Africa”.  More exactly, pages 5/6 will tell you

“Even more surprising is the vast West African conurbation rapidly coalescing along the Gulf of Guinea with Lagos (23 million people by 2015 according to one estimate) as its fulcrum.  By 2020, according to an OECD study, this network of 300 cities larger than 100,000 will “have a population comparable to the U.S. east coast, with five cities of over one million…[and] a total of more than 60 million inhabitants along a strip of land 600 kilometers long, running east to west between Bennin City and Accra”  Tragically, it will also be the biggest single footprint of urban poverty on earth.”

Conurbation.  I’m going to start using that one.

Perhaps the most disturbing was the discussion of the explosive growth of this area (twice that of the national population growth) during a consistent economic contraction.  This is definitely getting woven into my worldview on overpopulation, later.  But these slums are clearly also an incubator of political instability, terrorism, and networks of nefarious actors.  This book is something else.

Just in case you liked the (geo)graphic from my overpopulation blogpost, here’s one regarding slums using the same methodology, from the same source…enjoy.



Happy MLK Day!

UPDATE:   Slumdog Millionaire just got 10 Oscar nominations.