China's unprecedented urban expansion will continue for the next 10 to 15 years, the government says. Over the past quarter-century, the nation has urbanised on a scale unparalleled in history. The percentage of people living in towns or cities climbed from 21.1 per cent in 1982 to 44.9 per cent last year - about 600 million people, according to figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. The mainland now has 655 cities and 20,000 towns, it said. Urbanisation would continue at high speed as more of the country became industrialised, Xinhua said. The ministry said the proportion of urban dwellers could grow by as much as 1 percentage point per year in the next decade, meaning rural dwellers would be in the minority, for the first time, by 2020. The growth rate for the past 25 years has averaged 0.95 percentage point. China would also see the rise of 'mega-city clusters' in the coastal regions, particularly in the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, Xinhua said. 'These clusters account for less than 3 per cent of China's total territory. But 14 per cent of our people now live in these areas. Together they make up 42 per cent of our gross domestic product, and 79 per cent of foreign investment has gone to these places,' the report said. It predicted that China would invest more in the infrastructure of these clusters in the coming decade. Earlier, a McKinsey Global Institute report predicted that by 2030, two-thirds of all Chinese, or 1 billion people, would be living in cities. By 2025, the country would have 219 cities with more than 1 million people, and 24 with more than 5 million.