Shaping the Urban Brain | Scientific American Blog Network

It’s hard to believe, but not quite four decades ago the Chinese settlement of Shenzhen was a modest fishing village, with a population of roughly 30,000. Today, thanks to a policy begun in 1979 that was designed to encourage foreign investment, that sleepy village is a manufacturing hub with a population of roughly 10 million. The success of Shenzhen is consistent with the broader development of China’s Pearl River Delta. Once mostly agricultural land, it has become, according to a recent World Bank report, the largest urban area in the world. The cities in the region have a combined population of about 57 million—larger than the populations of many countries, including Canada, Argentina, and South Africa.

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