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Which is the largest city on the planet, this issue is still unresolved but sometimes the subject of small talk. On your next casual conversation you may impress your audience when you state that by far the largest city is Chongqing, because most certainly nobody ever had heard of that city.
Chongqing in southwest China is one of the emerging Megacities with a population of more than 32 million people, sprawled over an area of 82,400 km² (this is twice the size of Switzerland with 41,285 km²). Chongqing carved out of Sichuan province in 1997, is de facto a Chinese province with the status of a provincial-level municipality like Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin.
And this should be the largest? Actually Chongqing's core population is about 7.5 million.
The largest, the biggest, or the most populous cities?
In many languages this terms are interchangeable, meaning the largest city of a country is also the most populous.
In the chart below there they are, the largest cities in the world, ranked by the population of a city's urban/metropolitan area.
What is a City?
The challenge is, ranking these cities is like to compare apples and oranges.
The common ground is: there is a city and there must be people, so lets count them. The problem begins with the definition of a city, easy you say?
A build-up of many buildings with many citizens is a city, right?
The largest city on Earth?
Lets look at Tokyo, often referred to as the largest city on Earth. But this is only true when you take the built up area of Tokyo and add the urban expansion of Chiba, Kawasaki, Sagamihara, Saitama, and Yokohama, which actually is Japan's second most populous city.
In the course of time, the fringe areas of all those cities have been growing together and now they form one massive conurbation, a megalopolis, a sprawling sea of buildings, and streets, with only virtual borders - and living within, 28% of Japan’s entire population.
To learn more about the cities, this page provides links to the official city or municipality government website and/or to the official travel and tourism information site or other tourism guides related to a city. A city's websites usually publish also information for visitors and tourists about cultural events, festivals, sightseeing and much more.
Note: Population figures are for latest available years. The ranking is relative because of the diverse latest available figures of the city population.
External links will open in a new browser window.
page keywords: largest city in the world, mega cities of the world, world cities, world city population, most populated city in the world, city travel, city guides
Skyscrapers in Shanghai's Pudong district.
|Shanghai (Chinese: 上海) - also named "Hu" or "Shen" in short. It is People's Republic of China's largest city and one of the largest cities in the world. It covers an area of 6,340 square kilometers. It is one of the world's largest seaports and a major industrial center of
China. Shanghai city proper population was 7 million people in 2010.
More about Shanghai
Searchable map/satellite view of Shanghai.
Official website of Shanghai Municipality.
Website of Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration with visitors information.
with permanent residents of 14.25 million
and migrant residents (commuter) 9.9 million
(in 2013; source: China Daily )
National Bureau of Statistics
Shanghai Municipal Government
Karachi Port and Naval bases
|Karachi - largest city, business capital and the "Melting Pot of Pakistan. The city is Pakistan's principal seaport and capital of Sindh province, located in southern Pakistan at the coast of the Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean). According to Karachi Metropolitan Corporation: Karachi's 'metropolitan area along with its suburbs comprises the world's second most populated city'. Due to its migrant population the city grew almost 60 times since 1947, and there is nowadays still the unchecked and uncontrolled massive migration of workforce to Karachi that increases the city's population.
‘The population of Karachi has doubled in 15 years’
More about Karachi
With a searchable map/satellite view of the city.
Karachi municipality government website.
|Estimated population of Karachi today: 21 million
Urban population: 14,500,000
City District Government Karachi
Karachi: a unique mega city
Population explosion: Put an embargo on industrialization in Karachi
Shinjuku Street Tokyo
Image: Zaida Montañana
|Tokyo (東京) - the "Eastern Capital", formerly Edo (until 1868), the capital and largest city
of Japan and in Asia.
The Tokyo Major Metropolitan Area includes the cities of Chiba, Kawasaki, Sagamihara, Saitama, and Yokohama, making it the world's most populous metropolitan area.
Tokyo City Limits (Special wards of Tokyo) has a population of 9 million people.
More about Tokyo
With basic facts and a searchable map/satellite view of Tokyo.
|Tokyo Major Metropolitan Area (Kanto M.M.A.): 37,220,000
Tokyo Metropolis: 13,189,000
about 10% of Japan's total population
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Beijing's Central Business District
|Beijing - (Chinese: 北京 Běijīng, also formerly known in English and other language as Peking).
Pei-Ching the "Northern Capital", capital city and political and cultural center of the People's Republic of China, is the second most populous city in China.
More about Beijing
With a searchable map and satellite view of Beijing.
(end of 2012 )
(2013 est. )
source: National Bureau of Statistics
São Paulo (Saint Paul) seen from Ibirapuera Park. © Turismo Cidade de São Paulo
the largest city in Brazil and the capital of the captaincy (state) São Paulo, founded as São Paulo de Piratininga (Saint Paul of the Fields of Piratininga) in 1554. Most populous city in South America.
More about São Paulo
with a searchable map and satellite view of the city.
Prefeitura da Cidade de São Paulo (in Portuguese)
São Paulo Turismo
Official tourism website of São Paulo.
| Metropolitan Region: 20.8 million (Região Metropolitana de São Paulo )
IBGE, Cidades, São Paulo
Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística
Megalopolis - Mexico City, Nezahualcoyotl
Image: Oscar Ruiz (heli pilot)
(Ciudad de México)
was in ancient times the pre-Columbian city of Tenochtitlan, it became the capital of the Aztec Empire until 1521. Today Mexico city is the economic, industrial, and cultural center and the capital city of the United States of Mexico. Most populous city in North America.
More about Mexico City
Information and a searchable map/satellite view of Mexico City.
Mexico City government website (in Spanish).
Mexico City tourism website.
NYC - The Big Apple - Manhattan Island
The city of the five 'boroughs': Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island (formerly Richmond), at least since 1790 number one on the list of the largest city in the United States. New York is also in the lead in the ranking on almost any of a variety of Global Cities Indexes.
More about New York City
Searchable map/satellite view of New York City.
New York City
The official New York City Web site.
The official tourism website of New York City.
| New York metropolitan area, New York-Newark: just under 20 million residents.
(mid 2013 est.)
U.S. Census Bureau
City proper: 8,336,697
U.S. Census Bureau
Mumbai © Maharashtra Tourism
Marathi Mumbai (the former Bombay), capital of Maharashtra state in India, port to the Arabian Sea and one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
More about Mumbai
Searchable map/satellite view of Mumbai.
( Provisional Population Totals, Census of India 2011 )
source: Census of India
Mumbai population 14 million (according to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai)
19.74 million (UN estimates)
Bahá'í Lotus Temple, Delhi
|Delhi (Hindi: दिल्ली) - city and union territory, also known as the National Capital Territory of India. New Delhi to the south of Old Delhi is the capital of India.
More about Delhi
Searchable map/satellite view of Delhi.
Delhi government website.
|Delhi National Capital Territory:
Census of India
(2011 Census Population)
Government of NCT of Delhi
St Basil Cathedral and Kremlin, Moscow
(Moskva) - most populous city, the political center and the capital of the Russian Federation, first written mention of Moscow dates
back to 1147.
More about Moscow
Searchable map/satellite view of Moscow.
Federal State Statistics Service
The city of Chongqing
|Chongqing (in Chinese: 重慶; 重庆; Abbr. 渝 yú), formerly known as Chungking. The metropolitan region of Chongqing is one of four provincial-level municipalities of China,
the highest level classification for cities with a status equal to that of provinces. The city/province is the economic center of the upper Yangtze River with a population of almost 30 million people. Chongqing is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
More about Chongqing
Searchable map/satellite view of Chongqing.
Chongqing Municipal Government website.
|Chongqing Municipality: 28,8 million
City Core: 16 districts & 3 counties
Core city: 7.5 million
City of Guangzhou
|Guangzhou - is the capital of Guangdong province located at Pearl River about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Hong Kong in the southern part of P.R. China. In its metropolitan area there live more than 8.5 million people.
More about Guangzhou
Searchable map/satellite view of Guangzhou.
The official website (in Chinese)
The official website of Guangzhou Municipality
Tianjin City at Hai He River
Chinese: 天津, also T'ien-Ching, Tientsin. Tianjin is Chinas fifth largest city. Referred to as "Jin" for short, Tianjin is one of the four Direct-controlled municipalities of China.
More about Tianjin
Searchable map/satellite view of Tianjin.
|City of Tianjin:
10.4 million permanent residents
Lalbagh Fort Dhaka
|Dhaka - Bengali: ঢাকা, a megacity, largest city and capital of Bangladesh, located on the east banks of the Buriganga River in the Ganges delta.
More about Dhaka
Searchable map/satellite view of Dhaka.
|Greater Dhaka Metropolitan area: 17.2 million
Dhaka Division: 12 million
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
Dhaka: 8.5 million
Statistical Yearbook 2011
|Bangkok (กรุงเทพมหานคร) - the Thai name is Krung Thep, the "City of Angels", formerly divided into two
municipalities, Krung Thep and Thon Buri. Bangkok is the capital, cultural and commercial
center of Thailand and by far the largest city in the country.
More about Bangkok
Some basics about the city, includes a searchable map, a satellite view and street view of Bangkok.
Bangkok's government official website.
|Greater Bangkok: 14.5 million (estimated)
Bangkok Metropolis: 8,3 million
Thailand Population Census 2010
Dong-A Seoul International Marathon
@visitseoul.net - Photo: Mok, Gil-Soon
|Seoul - in Korean 서울 (Soul-t'ukpyolsi)
Officially Seoul Special City, situated along the banks of the Han river is the national capital of South Korea,
Seoul was, until 1945, the capital of all of Korea, in ancient times Seoul was the capital of Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. ~ 660 A.D.)
Google Earth Seoul
Searchable map/satellite view of Seoul.
just under 10 million residents
Seoul Metropolitan Government
The Seoul Capital Area which includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province has a population of
Istanbul at Night
|Istanbul (İstanbul) - a city with a great history, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople (official renamed to Istanbul in 1930).
The former capital is the largest city and principal seaport and the cultural and financial center of Turkey. It is the only city in the world situated on two continents.
Google Earth Map Istanbul
Searchable map/satellite view of Istanbul.
Official website of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
census end of 2011
Turkish Statistical Institute
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Jakarta at night
|Jakarta - until 1949 the city was named Batavia, from 1949-72 its was named Djakarta.
Jakarta is primary port city, the largest city and the capital of Indonesia.
Google Map of Jakarta
Searchable map/satellite view of Jakarta.
City government website.
Avenida del Libertador, Buenos Aires
is the largest city, chief port, and capital of Argentina, located on the south west bank of Río de la Plata river, in the pampa region.
More about Buenos Aires
With basic information plus a searchable map/satellite view of Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires Ciudad
Buenos Aires Tourism Website
| Buenos Aires core city population (Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires): 2,890,000
Greater Buenos Aires (24 Partidos del Gran Buenos Aires): 9,9 million
Buenos Aires Province:
15,6 million people
Source: INDEC. Censo Nacional de Población
13.53 million (UN)
London Tower Bridge © www.britainonview.com
Largest city and the capital of the United Kingdom, a confederal metropolis and a polycentric city, with many core districts and no clear hierarchy among them. The London administrative area comprises the City of London, and the thirty-two boroughs, of which 13 are in Inner London and 19 are in Outer London. London is since years number two in the Global City Index (GCI).
Google Map London
Searchable map/satellite view of London.
Website of Mayor of London, the London Assembly and the Greater London Authority.
The London visitors guide.
The estimated population in and around London known as the "London commuter belt" are just under 12 million people
Office for National Statistics 2011 Census
8 278 251
Azadi Monument, Teheran
|Tehran, since 1788 capital
city of Persia (Iran) and since 1980 capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Google Earth Tehran
Searchable map/satellite view of Tehran.
Official website of Tehran municipality.
|City: 7.1 million
Statistical Centre of Iran
Kong - 香港 Xianggang (Hsiang Kang, the fragrant harbour), the formerly British
Dependent Territory of Hong Kong comprises of Victoria (commonly known as Hong
Kong Island), the Kowloon Peninsula, the "New Territories", and 235 outlying islands.
Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People Republic of China on 1 July 1997.
Google Earth Hong Kong
Searchable map/satellite view of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong (official government website)
Hong Kong (website of Hong Kong Tourism Board)
Population End - 2013
Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department
Rifai and Sultan Hassan Mosques in Cairo
|Cairo - Al-Qahirah, capital of Egypt and a cultural centre of the Arab world. Cairo is
the largest city of the Middle East and in Africa.
Google Earth Cairo
Searchable map/satellite view of Cairo.
Official website of Cairo Governorate.
| Cairo governorate: 6,789,479
greater Metropolitan Area:
Bogotá, Colombia's Capital City
|Bogotá D.C. , formerly called Santa Fe de Bogotá, located on a mountain rimmed plateau in the
Cordillera Oriental of the Andes Mountains, founded in 1538. Capital City of Colombia.
Google Earth Bogotá
Searchable map/satellite view of Bogotá.
| 6 945 216 (UN) *
6 776 009 (WP)
DANE - Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadistica
Censo General 2005:
6 776 009
* Urban agglomeration
Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) a world known symbol for Rio de Janeiro.
|Rio de Janeiro, is the second largest city in Brazil, world famous for its carnival and the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
Google Map of Rio de Janeiro
Searchable map/satellite view of Rio de Janeiro.
Rio de Janeiro
Website of the city prefecture.
Official website of Rio de Janeiro's Secretary of Tourism, Sports, and Leisure.
Municipality: 6.43 million
Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatstica
Santiago's Growing Skyline
Image: Juan Marchant
|Santiago de Chile - largest city and the capital of Chile.
Google Earth Santiago
Searchable map/satellite view of Santiago.
Municipality of Santiago website (in Spanish).
Shenzhen, Central Business District
|Shenzhen is a major city in the south of Guangdong Province, China, just north of Hong Kong.
Google Earth Shenzhen
Searchable map/satellite view of Shenzhen.
Shenzhen Municipal E-government
Lima's San Isidro district
|Lima - El Pulpo (The Octopus), commercial and industrial center and the capital city of Peru
Google Earth Lima
Searchable map/satellite view of Lima.
Municipalidad de Lima (in Spanish)
| 9.13 (UN)
7 605 742 (WP)
Demographia World Urban Areas 2016
Lagos Island and part of Lagos Harbour
Image: Benji Robertson
|Lagos, formerly the capital and still the main commercial and industrial center and principal seaport of Nigeria. By far the largest city in the country. Lagos is one of and fastest growing cities in Africa, it is among the top ten of the world's fastest growing cities and urban areas.
Google Earth Lagos
Searchable map/satellite view of Lagos.
Official website of the Lagos state government.
21 million people
The number is heavy based on estimates, because until today there is no compulsory registration of people in Nigeria.
Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics
Metropolitan Lagos, Lagos State
National Population Commission
Badshahi Mosque (Emperor's Mosque), Lahore's most famous landmark built in 1671-73, an example of the Mughal era architecture.
Image: Ali Imran
is the capital of Punjab and second largest city in Pakistan, located in the upper Indus plain on the Ravi River, west of the border to India's province Himachal Pradesh.
Google Earth Lahore
Searchable map/satellite view of Lahore.
Portal of Government of the Punjab.
Federal Bureau of Statistics, Pakistan
10,3 million people in 2016
Demographia World Urban Areas 2016
Sources: If possible the source is linked, mostly national or municipal statistic bureaus.
other sources used: the United Nations Statistics Division - Citydata, abbr.: (UN); sometimes Wikipedia, abbr.: (WP), not always up-to-date, but a great source to the real sources.
Lets make it bigger.
For those who are interested why the population figures for major world urban areas vary so greatly by various sources and publications, can read about the difficulty to get almost realistic population figures for metropolitan areas and cities.
For example New York City is listed in various World-Rankings of the Most Populous Cities, Urban Areas, Agglomerations, Conurbations etc. as follows:
No. 2 (pop. 30 400 000) in World Gazetteer in 2004, according to Richard L. Forstall (see below)
No. 6 (pop. 21 900 000) in City Population (The Principal Agglomerations of the World)
No. 3 (pop. 21 295 ,000) in Wendell Cox Consultancy's Demographia (Largest Urban Areas in the World: 2009)
No. 4 (pop. 19 750 000) in Wikipedia (List of metropolitan areas by population)
No. 5 (pop. 19 500 000) in Richard L. Forstall (Which are the largest?)
No. 2 (pop. 19 000 000) in United Nations Population Division (Urban Agglomerations 2007)
No. 5 (pop. 16 626 000) in WorldAtlas.com (Largest Cities of the World - by population)
the figures for other cities vary accordingly by each publication.
The official population figure for New York City, according to U.S. Census Bureau is 8 363 710 (July 1, 2008)
Some publication just don't mention, that this figures are not for the City of New York, instead of the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) including beside New York, the cities of Jersey City (NJ), Newark (NJ), Paterson (NJ), and Yonkers (NY), spread out over three states, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
According to U.S. Census Bureau the population of 'New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA is 19 006 798.
See also the study of Richard L. Forstall and others: WHICH ARE THE LARGEST? WHY PUBLISHED POPULATIONS
FOR MAJOR WORLD URBAN AREAS VARY SO GREATLY (dead link)
Glossary:* City proper or City limit is a locality with legally fixed boundaries and an administratively recognized urban status that is usually characterized by some form of local government, in other words, a city or town within its city limit without adjacent communities.
Urban area is the area that a city or town occupies, it is created and further developed by the process of urbanization.
** Urban agglomeration is an extended city or town area comprising the built-up area of a central place (usually a municipality) and any suburbs linked by continuous urban area, similar to Metropolitan Area.
Metropolitan area (Metro) is a large population center consisting of a large urban area (core city) together with adjacent communities and satellite cities plus its adjacent zone of influence including rural areas.
Images: some images are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License or the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
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