Human Settlements Grid

Location of high density clusters or urban centers with a high degree of built-up land and high population density, low-density urban clusters or towns and suburbs, and rural areas

  • Source: EC JRC

The Global Human Settlements Grid (GHS), produced by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC JRC), highlights areas with a dense population and a high degree of built-up land. It assesses the REGIO-OECD “degree of urbanization” model using as input the population grid cells in 4 epochs (2015, 2000, 1990, and 1975). Each km2 grid cell has been generated by integration of built-up areas produced from Landsat image and population data derived from the Center for International Earth Science Information Network Gridded Population of the World, Version 4 (CIESIN GPW v4). These data are divided into 3 discrete categories: urban centers, urban cluster, and rural areas. Urban centers, or high density clusters, are defined as “contiguous cells (4-connectivity, gap filling) with a density of at least 1,500 inhabitants/km² or a density of built-up greater than 50%, and a minimum of 50,000 inhabitants” per cluster. Urban clusters are lower-density clusters including towns and suburbs, defined as contiguous grid cells with a population of at least 300 inhabitants per km² or a density of built-up greater than 50% and a minimum of 5,000 inhabitants. Rural areas are defined as grid cells outside high-density clusters and urban clusters. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

GHS Settlement Grid


This data set is an analytical product based on satellite imagery and users should use caution.

Suggested citation

Pesaresi, Martino, and Sergio Freire. 2016. "GHS Settlement Grid Following the REGIO Model 2014 in Application to GHSL Landsat and CIESIN GPW v4-Multitemporal (1975-1990-2000-2015)." European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) (Dataset). PID: Accessed through Resource Watch, (date).


European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC JRC)

Geographic coverage


Spatial resolution

1 km

Date of content

1975, 1990, 2000, and 2015

Published language



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