The 10 Largest Cities in the World

Tokyo, Delhi, and Shanghai are among the world’s most populated urban areas.

Urban centers have been proliferating across the world as large populations settle in cities to take advantage of better economic opportunities, modern infrastructure, and other amenities. Asian cities have particularly recorded outstanding growth, and most of the largest cities are currently situated on the continent such as Shanghai, Beijing, Dhaka, Tokyo, Delhi, Mumbai, Karachi, and Guangzhou. The data provided here comes from the UN World Cities Report.

10. Osaka – 19.3

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Osaka is the second largest city in Japan by urban population. Thanks to its scenic position by the ocean, Osaka is a favourite among both domestic and international travelers alike. Other nearby tourist attractions include Universal Studios Japan. Once a major economic hotspot, Osaka’s role has transitioned more to being that of a financial hub.

9. Dhaka – 19.6 million

#9 Dhaka - 19.6 million

The city now known as Dhaka has been a prominent commercial center since the 17th century and has been the capital of several empires and countries before becoming the capital of the newly independent Bangladesh in 1971. With a population of 19.6 million people, it is the largest city in Bangladesh and one of the major cities of South Asia. The city’s population has grown tremendously over the past several decades emerging as a megacity by the 21st century. It is the major financial, political, and cultural center of the region.

8. Bejing – 19.6 million

#8 Bejing - 19.6 million

Beijing is the capital of China, and it sits on the North China plain in the country’s north-central region. The city, also called Peking, has an eventful history from being one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China to foreign occupation as well as civil war in the 20th century. Beijing established itself as an industrial sector in the aftermath of the Communist Revolution of 1949. Automobiles, textiles, petrochemicals, aerospace equipment, and semiconductors are some of the products produced by the city’s industrial sector. Beijing is home to over 20 million residents. As a cultural center, Beijing boasts of seven World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO.

7. Mumbai – 20 million

#7 Mumbai - 20 million

Mumbai lies on the western coast of the Indian Subcontinent, and has approximately 20 million inhabitants. Mumbai developed around a fort established by the British in the 17th century. Its natural harbor facilitated its growth, and by the 18th century, Mumbai was home to a thriving manufacturing sector. The largest population of billionaires and millionaires for any Indian City reside in Mumbai. Mumbai hosts such important financial institutions as the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of India. As an art center, Mumbai hosts the Bollywood industry as well as the Marathi cinema industry.

6. Cairo – 20.1

#6 Cairo - 20.1

Cairo is the capital and largest city of Egypt, as well as the most populated urban area in Africa as well as the Arab World. The city is on the legendary Nile River and has a very hot desert climate. Cairo is also within close proximity of one of the most treasured Ancient Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramids of Giza. There is a strong tourism potential in Cairo that has not been unlocked due to overcrowding and other urban issues.

5. Mexico City – 21.6

#5 Mexico City - 21.6

Mexico City is the largest city in North America, and the fifth largest city in the world according to the United Nations. Humans, notably the Aztec people, have lived in the area that is now Mexico City for thousands of years. A city of extremes, the city is known for its colorful and unique architecture, beautiful churches and squares, vibrant cultural life, and, unfortunately, hit levels of pollution. One reason for this is that the city is surrounded by mountains, which traps air inside.

4. Sao Paolo – 21.7 million

#4 Sao Paolo - 21.7 million

Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It is a massive, sprawling city full of skyscrapers, with over 21 million people living within its urban area. Its residents, who are known as paulistanos, benefit from thousands of restaurants across the city as well as a thriving arts life. Sao Paulo has the affectionate alternate name of Sampa, and it is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. Shanghai – 25.6 million

#3 Shanghai - 25.6 million

Shanghai’s population of 25.6 million makes it the biggest city in China, and the third largest in Asia as well as the world. Shanghai strategically lies in the Yangtze River Delta and the city’s port is ranked as the world’s busiest having handled 37 million TEUs in 2016. Qinglong Town, founded in 746, preceded Shanghai and it grew as a trading port in Imperial China. Shanghai’s economic potential made it a center of conflict in the 19th century as the British and French fought to control the city. The Japanese also invaded Shanghai during the 2nd World War. Shanghai is an economic and trading hub in modern day China, and it has reported double-digit growth since 1992 excluding the global recession of 2008 and 2009. Shanghai’s top three service sectors are real estate, financial services, and retail while manufacturing accounts for about 40% of the total output. Shanghai hosts numerous industrial zones such as the Shanghai Hongqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone. Shanghai attracts populations of local immigrants as well as foreign settlers from Japan, the US, and Korea.

2. Delhi – 28.5 million

#2 Delhi - 28.5 million

Delhi is the largest city in India by population, with 28.5 million residents. It is a bustling, vibrant city that is always moving. Confusingly, the city of Delhi emcompasses New Delhi, which is the caoital city of India. According to the United Nations, Delhi is the world’s second largest urban area. Delhi is a city of extremes: it is also one of India’s most polluted cities, and one of its richest.

1. Tokyo – 37.5 million

#1 Tokyo - 37.5 million

Tokyo lies on the eastern coast of Honshu, the largest of the four islands that make up Japan. The city is the Japanese capital and one of Japan’s forty-seven prefectures. The city was initially called Edo but was renamed in 1868 when the Japanese imperial family relocated there from Kyoto. Tokyo’s metropolis has an estimated 13,617,445 residents. Tokyo is home to fifty-one of the Fortune Global 500 firms, and it is ranked 4th in the Global Cities Index. The inhabitants of Tokyo are almost all Japanese with communities of Chinese and Koreans. Tokyo is home to headquarters of large corporations and financial institutions while the manufacturing sector is mainly concentrated in Yokohama, Chiba, and Kawasaki.

What’s the Biggest City in the World?

Shanghai is the most populated city in the world with a total population of 24.1 million people. After Shanghai, the largest cities are Beijing, Karachi, Istanbul, and Dhaka.

The World’s Largest Cities

Rank City Country Population (Millions)
1 Tokyo Japan 37.5
2 Delhi India 28.5
3 Shanghai China 25.6
4 Sao Paulo Brazil 21.7
5 Mexico City Mexico 21.6
6 Cairo Egypt 20.1
7 Mumbai India 20
8 Beijing China 19.6
9 Dhaka Bangladesh 19.6
10 Osaka Japan 19.3

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