The 25 Most Populous Cities within the World

The United Nations describes a megacity as an urban center that accommodates greater than 10 million inhabitants.

The megacities on this list, also face “mega” challenges, including providing water services and managing their environment; nonetheless, urbanization doesn’t mean a threat to the natural environment.

‘Well-planned, compact urban development generates immense environmental value’, in line with the U.N.’s World Cities Report 2020

The cities listed below are probably the most populous on the planet, according a 2018 U.N. report.

1. Tokyo, Japan

Population in Urban Area: 37,340,000

Population in City Area: 13.96 m

Aerial view of Tokyo city with Tokyo tower and Mount.Fuji, Japan at night.Japan’s capital is the most important urban area on the planet with a population of over 37 million people.
Getty Images

Tokyo is probably the most populated city on the planet and the most important “Megacity” on the planet.

The town dubbed the “Capital of the East” is situated on the eastern coast of the Japanese fundamental island of Honshu.

2. Delhi, India

Population in Urban Area: 31,181,000

Population in City Area: 20,591,874

46 Delhi
The present metro area population of Delhi in 2021 is 31,181,000, a 2.94% increase from 2020.
Getty Images

Delhi, also often known as the National Capital Territory of India is the most important city within the country. In response to a U.N. report, the Indian capital is predicted to retain the spot of the world’s second most populous city through at the very least 2030.

3. Shanghai, China

Population in Urban Area: 27,796,000

Population in City Area: 22,315,474

The metro area population of Shanghai in 2021 is 27,796,000, a 2.73% increase from 2020.

That is China’s most populated and likewise wealthiest city. Situated within the Yangtze River Delta, in eastern China, it has an enormous business district, two large airports (Pudong and Hongqiao) and the world’s fastest train (the Shanghai Maglev).

4. São Paulo, Brazil

Population in Urban Area: 22,043,028

Population in City Area: 10,021,295

07 Sao Paulo
The metro area population of Sao Paulo in 2021 is 22,237,000.
Getty Images

This bustling metropolis in southeast Brazil, is the most important city of the Southern Hemisphere and the most important Portuguese-speaking city on the planet.

5. Mexico City, Mexico

Population in Urban Area: 21,919,000

Population in City Area:12,294,193

Mexico City
Essentially the most populous city in North America, an estimated 12 million people live in Mexico city. Aerial view of low visibility attributable to air pollution in Mexico City on April 22, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico. After registering high levels of ozone the environmental comission (CAMe) activated the “Hoy no circula” protocol which establishes groups of vehicles that aren’t allowed to drive between 5 am and 10 pm.
Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images/Getty Images

Greater Mexico City refers to Mexico City and the 60 adjoining municipalities of the states of Mexico and Hidalgo

The oldest capital city within the Americas, it’s is the most important Spanish-speaking city on the planet.

6. Cairo, Egypt

Population in Urban Area: 21,323,000

Population in City Area: 8.1 m

36 Cairo
In response to Population Stat, the present metro area population of Cairo in 2021 is 21,323,000, a 2.02% increase from 2020.
Mohamed Abd El Ghan/Reuters

Cairo is the most important city in Africa and the Middle East.

7. Mumbai, India

Population in Urban Area: 20,668,000

Population in City Area:12,691,836

Mumbai Suburban district. The Mumbai Suburban district is a district of the state of Maharashtra in western India on February 16, 2015 in Mumbai, India.Mumbai is certainly one of the fundamental industrial hubs on the planet by worldwide economic transactions.
Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty Images

Mumbai, which was official named Bombay until 1995, is the capital of the State of Maharashtra.

The town is India’s financial and industrial centre, and the country’s principal port on the Arabian Sea. Like other industrial megacities, it suffers with air and water pollution, in addition to overcrowding.

8. Beijing, China

Population in Urban Area: 20,897,000

Population in City Area: 11,716,620

Beijing is the second largest city in China with over 20 million people within the urban area.
Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

About 21 million people live in Beijing, the capital of China, which makes it the world’s most populous capital city.

9. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Population in Urban Area: 21,741,000

Population in City Area: 10,356,500

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has a population of 21.1 million people within the urban area and 10.3 million in town

Situated on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka is the capital and the largest city of Bangladesh.

The town is probably the most densely populated on Earth, with nearly 37 people living in every square kilometer. The Greater Dhaka Area has a complete population of greater than 21 million.

Dhaka can also be considered the rickshaw capital of the world, with the carts being the most well-liked approach to transportation.

10. Osaka, Japan

Population in Urban Area:19,111,000

Population in City Area: 2,592,413

Aerial view of Osaka. View on the Osaka Bay and its port on March 28, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Osaka is a megacity home to almost 19 million people in its urban area.
Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty Images

Japan’s second largest city joins Tokyo on the list.

It’s situated within the Kansai region of the fundamental island of Honshū, on the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, relatively near to the traditional Japanese capital, Kyoto.

The port city is especially known for its modern architecture and its street bars. Osaka can also be home to the country’s first Buddhist temple, Shi Tenno-ji.

11. Latest York, U.S.

Population in Urban Area: 18,823,000

Population in City Area:8.3 m

New York
The Latest York lower Manhattan skyline is seen as a backdrop for a traffic jam on an Expressway on May 15, 2020 in Latest York City. Latest York is probably the most populous city of the U.S. It became probably the most populous urbanized area on the planet within the Twenties and the metropolitan area surpassed 10 million inhabitants within the early Thirties.
Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

The primary megacity in human history, Latest York is probably the most populous city in the USA. It also has the best population density within the country, with over 10,194 people for each square kilometer.

In response to Population Stat ,which uses sources from World Bank and United Nations, Census,Latest York City “is predicted to greater than double in size by 2035, as much as 20.8 million residents within the Latest York City urban area.”

12. Karachi, Pakistan

Population in Urban Area: 16,459,000

Population in City Area: 11,624,219

40 Karachi
Karachi, Sindh province, Pakistan. With a population of 16 million, Karachi is the most important megacity in Pakistan

Pakistan economic and financial capital on the Arabian Sea. Karachi is the country’s largest city and a significant seaport, serving amongst others the landlocked country of Afghanistan.

A World Bank report from 2018, “Transforming Karachi right into a Livable and Competitive Megacity,” says that despite being a big city that’s home to many, “Karachi has seen a considerable decline in quality of life and economic competitiveness in recent a long time.

“Basic service delivery could be very poor, with very low indicators for water supply, sanitation, public transport and public spaces. Pollution levels are high, and town is vulnerable to disasters and climate change.”

13. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population in Urban Area: 15,258,000

Population in City Area:3m

Buenos Aires
Aerial view of 9 de Julio avenue and Plaza de la Republica square in Buenos Aires amid the Coronavirus pandemic on May 28, 2021.
Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

Buenos Aires has a population of just about 3 million, with a metropolitan population of over 15 million. The capital and largest city in Argentina, it’s situated on the western shore of the Rio de la Plata .

With over 400 theaters, Buenos Aires is usually called the ‘World’s Capital of Theater’.

14. Chongqing, China

Population in Urban Area: 16,382,000

Population in City Area: 7,457,600

Chongqing, the most important Chinese city situated on the upper Yangtze. Here the Jialing River (pea soup color) meets the Yangtze River. The most important rural city in China and certainly one of the few megacities in China removed from the coast .
Photo by robert wallis/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty Images

A contemporary port city and a district in Central China, Chongqing is the most important municipality in southwest China with an area of 31,800 square miles (82,400 square kilometers).

15. Istanbul, Turkey

Population in Urban Area: 15,415,197

Population in City Area:14,804,116

Landscape photograph of the Istanbul waterfront and Bosphorus Strait, with town skyline visible within the background, Istanbul, Turkey.The most important city in Turkey, Istanbul’s fundamental economic sectors are tourism, entertainment, logistics, construction, finance, education, healthcare, automotive, and textile. Istanbul’s 2021 population is now estimated at 15,415,197
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images/Getty Images

Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city extends between Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait.

Nearly two thirds of its residents survive the European side of town, and the remainder survive the Anatolian side.

16. Kolkata, India

Population in Urban Area: 14,974,000

Population in City Area: 4,631,392

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Photo taken on June 20, 2016 in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. Kolkata is India’s third most populous metropolitan area, the most important urban area includes the suburbs and has a population of greater than 14.9 million.
Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty Images

The capital and the most important city of the Indian state of West Bengal. Situated on the banks of the Hooghly River, Kolkata is a city of commerce, transport, and manufacture, and the dominant urban centre of eastern India.

Formerly often known as Calcutta, an Anglicized version of the Bengali name Kalikata.

17. Manila, Philippines

Population in Urban Area:14,159,000

Population in City Area:1,600,000

An aerial shot of Manila on December 23, 2013. A megacity with over 14 million inhabitants within the urban area, Manila faces many problems including overcrowding.
Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

The capital of the Philippines, it’s situated on the island of Luzon and spreads along the eastern shore of Manila Bay. Manila faces problems with overcrowding which has resulted in housing shortage, congestion and air pollution.

18. Lagos, Nigeria

Population in Urban Area: 14,862,000

Population in City Area: 9 m

Lagos State,essentially comprising town of Lagos, is certainly one of the world’s fastest growing megacities but in line with the World Bank, they’ve a major problem with air pollution, with a 2018 report estimating that air pollution caused greater than 11,200 premature deaths within the Nigerian Capital.
Photo: FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images

The second most populous city in Africa, its population continues to rise and in line with Population Stat, “experts predict that by 2035, town could have 24.4 million people and that by 2050, the population will double and make town certainly one of the highest three largest in all the world.”

19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Population in Urban Area: 13,544,000

Population in City Area: 6,023,699

Rio de Janeiro
Aerial view on “Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas” and town centre of Rio de Janeiro.Rio de Janeiro is the second-most populous city in Brazil with over 13 million inhabitants.
Photo by Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty Images

The second-most populous city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro City is home to over 6 million people, about 35 percent of the population of Rio de Janeiro State.

Rio has the second biggest municipal GDP of Brazil estimated at about $201 billion USD.

20. Tianjin, China

Population in Urban Area: 13,794,000

Population in City Area: 11,090,314

China’s fourth largest city, Tianjin is certainly one of the largest industrial and port cities within the country.
Photo by TPG/Getty Images/Getty Images

After Shanghai and Beijing, it’s the third largest municipality of China. It’s also the fundamental port of Northern China , often called “the gate of Beijing,” and the largest port created by man in China. The port occupies an area of 107 km2 and a quay with a length of 21.5 km

21. Kinshasa, DR Congo

Population in Urban Area:14,970,000

Population in City Area: 7,785,965

49 Kinshasa
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, West Africa. In response to the World Bank ‘Like lots of the world’s megacities, Kinshasa faces many challenges. With nearly 15 million residents, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is understood for its epic traffic jams, widespread poverty, unreliable electricity, a long time of violent confrontation and an underlying vulnerability to floods, droughts, and other climate shocks’.
Desirey Minkoh/AFP

Africa’s third-largest metropolitan area after Cairo and Lagos, it’s the world’s largest Francophone urban area, French is the official language but Lingala, a Bantu language, is used as a lingua franca within the streets.

22. Guangzhou, China

Population in Urban Area: 13,635,397

Population in City Area:11,071,424

China’s southern Guangdong province on September 17, 2021. Guangzhou’s 2021 population is now estimated at 13,635,397.
Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

One in every of China’s three largest cities.

A significant port, it was “a part of the Silk Route of the Sea” from the third century, in the course of the reign of the Qin dynasty. The fundamental a part of town is situated on the north bank of the Pearl River, about 120 km north-northwest of Hong Kong .

23. Los Angeles, U.S.

Population: 12,459,000

Population in City Area: 3.9 m

los angeles courthouse shooting
The Los Angeles skyline is seen on April 4, 2020.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is the second-largest metropolitan area within the nation after Latest York. Situated near the Pacific coast in Southern California, many of the population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area is centralized within the City of Los Angeles.

24. Moscow, Russia

Population in Urban Area: 12,593,000

Population in City Area: 10,381,222

An aerial view of the Staraya square and Presidential Administration constructing , on March,14,2021, in Moscow, Russia.The Moscow megalopolis, that features Moscow and the Moscow Region, ranks amongst the most important megacities on the planet.
Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images/Getty Images

The capital of Russia and the northernmost major city on the planet. Moscow, is the second most populated city in Europe, after Istanbul in Turkey.

The Moscow metro system is the third busiest on the planet and shuttles as much as 6-million people each day.

25. Shenzhen, China

Population in Urban Area: 12,592,000

Population in City Area: 10,358,381

China Skyscraper Evacuated After More Shaking
Shenzhen can also be often known as China’s Silicon Valley, as many Chinese tech-giants are headquartered there.
STR/AFP via Getty Images

Situated next to Hong Kong, it’s the home of probably the most high-rise buildings in China. Shenzhen wasn’t technically a city until 1979 but only 42 years later, it’s the most important economy in China’s Greater Bay Area.

In response to Statista, Shenzhen is “certainly one of the fastest growing cities in China. Based on estimates, the population of Shenzhen is predicted to succeed in over 15 million by 2035. This rapidly growing city is attracting an increasing variety of young Chinese, who want to start out and grow their careers.”

The population estimates and projections come from the U.N, World Urbanization Prospects and Macrotrends data.

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