Meet China’s 113 Cities With More Than One Million People
In 2010, China’s urban-dwelling population surpassed its rural population, marking a monumental demographic milestone in the country’s history.
Just three decades prior, China looked markedly different. Only 20% of Chinese citizens lived in urban areas, and many of today’s metropolises were still small villages.
Since then, huge swaths of the population have moved from farmland into cities, a shift that is still causing many urban areas to swell in size. Case in point is the growth of Guangzhou, which lays just north of Hong Kong. From 1980 to today, more than 18 million people moved into the city. A 40-year-old born in Guangzhou will have seen their small, regional city mushroom into one of the largest urban amalgamations on Earth.
Of course, this is just one example of a process that has been altering the landscape of cities from the coast of the South China Sea out to the Eurasian Steppe.
The One Million+ Club
According to Demographia’s World Urban Areas report, there are now 113 urban areas in China that surpass the one million population threshold. In comparison, North America and the EU combined have 114 urban areas that surpass one million people.
Below is a full breakdown of China’s one million+ club:
The massive scale of rural-to-urban migration isn’t just a major development within China, it has no parallel in modern history.
Since 1980, over half a billion people have moved from the countryside to an urban center. The construction of these new cities took a staggering amount of raw materials. Few data points highlight the scale of construction better than China’s cement production in recent years.
In 2018, Chinese construction used about 8x the amount of second place India, which has a similar population size.
Megacities on Megacities
Cities with over 10 million inhabitants are defined as megacities. China is already home to six megacities, with another three urban areas well on the way to achieving that status.
In fact, some megacities within close proximity have grown so large that they are merging into contiguous urban areas. The most prominent example of this phenomenon is in the Pearl River Delta region of China.
The Pearl River Delta region is not only home to the megacities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but also a number of other sizable cities that are quickly merging into a unified continuous entity containing up to 50 million people. Demographia still considers most of these cities to be separate labor markets — but as more connections form across the region, the Pearl River Delta could be poised to become the largest unified urban area in human history.
As megacities like Shanghai and Shenzhen have grown and developed, they’ve also become more expensive places to live and do business. The economic evolution of these cities has created opportunity for smaller, less developed cities to woo both residents and businesses.
This natural reshuffling has led to impressive growth in cities further inland like Zhengzhou, which sits 350 miles (630 kms) east of the coastline where many of the country’s largest cities reside.
Using the “build it and they will come” approach, the city converted a 160 square mile (410 sq km) patch of empty land into the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone (ZAEZ). The project has proven wildly successful, and the city even has the nickname “Apple City” thanks to the presence of Foxconn (which produces the iPhone) and a cluster of other smartphone manufacturers.
This airport-centered zone was developed with the full political and economic backing of Beijing as part of a broader effort to increase economic activity in China’s interior cities. Zhengzhou has nearly tripled in size over the last decade, a powerful testament to the shift in economic momentum.
China’s Inland All-Stars:
|Urban Area||Population 2010||Population 2019||Change (2010-19)|
Compare the numbers above to fast-growing cities in the U.S., such as Las Vegas or Phoenix, which managed 33% and 12% growth respectively over the last decade.
If this trend continues, China’s one million+ club will most likely expand once fresh census data is released in 2021.
Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023
We rank the world’s leading cities with the most skyscrapers, highlighting China’s remarkable dominance in building vertically.
Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023
When it comes to soaring skylines and architectural marvels, no country has embraced the vertical revolution quite like China.
In this graphic, which uses data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), we reveal the 25 cities with the most skyscrapers and supertall buildings globally.
Unsurprisingly, China’s cities dominate the list, solidifying the country’s reputation as a global powerhouse of tall buildings.
The 25 Top Cities by Skyscraper Count
Topping the charts is Hong Kong, with an impressive 657 skyscrapers, including six supertalls (buildings over 300 meters tall).
|Rank||City||Country||Skyscrapers (>150m)||Supertalls (>300m)|
|1||Hong Kong||🇨🇳 China||657||6|
|3||New York City||🇺🇸 United States||421||16|
|4||Dubai||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||395||28|
|7||Kuala Lumpur||🇲🇾 Malaysia||211||5|
|11||Chicago||🇺🇸 United States||178||7|
|22||Busan||🇰🇷 South Korea||106||4|
|23||Seoul||🇰🇷 South Korea||104||2|
Hong Kong, along with Shenzhen (#2), and Guangzhou (#5) are part of the burgeoning megacity known as the Pearl River Delta, which is home to over 1,500 skyscrapers. This is even more impressive when considering that Shenzhen was a small fishing village until the 1970s.
New York City secures the third position on the list, boasting an impressive tally of 421 skyscrapers. Although it may have relinquished its title to Chinese cities, the city’s skyline endures as a globally renowned symbol, prominently featuring the iconic Empire State Building. Notably, while the Empire State Building enjoys widespread familiarity, it no longer ranks among the world’s 50 tallest structures.
Rounding out the top five is Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which grabs the fourth position with 395 skyscrapers, a staggering 28 of which are supertalls. This desert oasis has become synonymous with grandiose architecture and record-breaking structures, exemplified by the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s current tallest building at 828 meters (2,715 ft).
China’s Numbers in Context
Looking at this data from another perspective, China actually has more skyscrapers on this list than the rest of the world combined.
|Country||Cities in Top 25||Skyscrapers||Supertalls|
|🌐 Rest of World||13||2350||67|
China’s rapid urbanization, economic growth, and ambitious construction projects have fueled this impressive feat. There’s no doubt that the country’s relentless pursuit of vertical development, coupled with its booming population and thriving cities, has positioned China as the unrivaled leader in the global skyscraper race.
The Future of the Global Skyline
As the world continues to reach new heights in architectural marvels, there are even more supertall skyscrapers in the pipeline that will reshape skylines across the globe.
From the soaring Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, poised to surpass the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building, to the remarkable Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur, which is set to claim the title of the world’s second-tallest structure when it opens in June 2023, these projects will captivate city dwellers for years to come.
Even as these new monumental buildings rise, China’s prominence in the world of skyscrapers—with three cities in the top five globally—is likely to remain unchallenged.
Economy3 weeks ago
Visualizing the American Workforce as 100 People
Technology3 days ago
Nvidia Joins the Trillion Dollar Club
Batteries3 weeks ago
How EV Adoption Will Impact Oil Consumption (2015-2025P)
Demographics17 hours ago
Comparing Population Pyramids Around the World
Wealth2 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Top 50 Endowment Funds
Banks4 weeks ago
Visualized: Real Interest Rates by Country
Markets2 weeks ago
Charting the Rise of America’s Debt Ceiling
Money4 weeks ago
Comparing the Speed of Interest Rate Hikes (1988-2023)