Projecting Europe’s Metro Population Growth from 2021‒2100
European cities have a storied history as global destinations, both for tourism and for immigration.
Despite lengthy histories, they are not immune to the global shifts in population patterns or urbanization. Even though the majority of the EU’s population already lives in urban areas, Europe’s urbanization rate is expected to rise to 84% by 2050.
However, not all cities are subject to that same growth. This visual from Gilbert Fontana uses data from Eurostat and breaks down the expected EU population growth rates for the 50 largest metropolitan regions from 2021 to 2100.
Drivers of Growth
It may come as no surprise that economic prosperity is a key driver of population growth.
Countries like Sweden, France, and Ireland are expected to see large swaths of population growth. Sweden’s largest three cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, are forecasted to experience the largest population growth by 2100 in percentage terms.
|Metro region||Country||Population (2021)||Population (2100)||Growth rate (%)|
|Málaga - Marbella||Spain||1,696,463||1,797,664||5.9%|
|Murcia - Cartagena||Spain||1,513,076||1,599,781||5.7%|
|Alicante - Elche||Spain||1,895,192||1,911,954||0.8%|
|Lille - Dunkirk - Valenciennes||France||2,607,879||2,628,268||0.7%|
This forecasted growth underscores the strength of Sweden’s economy and global identity, with a very high GDP-per-capita and consistently ranking highly in economic freedom and prosperity.
Europe’s largest population growth in raw numbers, meanwhile, is expected in Spain. The populations of both Madrid and Barcelona are each forecasted to grow by more than 1.6 million people between 2021 and 2100.
On the flip side, some of the regions with the lowest levels of expected growth face challenging economic environments.
For example, Greece is still suffering from the fallout of its sovereign debt crisis in the 2010s, which significantly harmed economic prospects for everyday people. Even though many working-class people have already left the country, Athens is currently expected to see a further population reduction of 1.3 million people or 38% of its population by the end of the century.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Ranked: The World’s Largest Cities By Population
This graphic uses data taken from latest official censuses and projections to rank the largest cities by population.
Ranked: The World’s Largest Cities By Population
The world has experienced rapid urbanization over the last century.
Today, more than 4.3 billion people live in urban settings, or 55% of the world’s population.
But what is the world’s largest city? Answers to that question will vary greatly depending on which lines are being used to demarcate city boundaries and measure their populations.
The graphic above uses data taken from the latest official censuses and projections to rank the top cities based on the three most common metrics.
The Largest Cities by City Proper
Our first metric is based on the city proper, meaning the administrative boundaries.
According to the United Nations, a city proper is “the single political jurisdiction which contains the historical city center.”
The Chinese city of Chongqing leads the ranks by this metric and has an administrative boundary the size of Austria, with an urban population of 32.1 million.
The city’s monorail system holds records for being the world’s longest and busiest, boasting 70 stations. Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, is among the world’s top 50 busiest airports. Additionally, the city ranks among the globe’s top 50 hubs for scientific research.
Other Chinese cities dominate the ranking by this metric:
The first non-Chinese city, Delhi, has been experiencing one of the fastest urban expansions in the world.
The United Nations projects India will add over 400 million urban dwellers by 2050, compared to 250 million people in China and 190 million in Nigeria.
The Largest Cities by Urban Area
This measurement largely ignores territorial boundaries and considers a city a contiguous, connected built-up area.
Demographia describes urban areas as functioning as an integrated economic unit, linked by commuting flows, social, and economic interactions.
By this metric, Tokyo leads the ranking:
|#8||🇧🇷 Sao Paulo||23.1m|
|#10||🇲🇽 Mexico City||21.8m|
The city proper houses about 10% of Japan’s population. If the greater Tokyo metro area is considered, including cities like Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba, then Tokyo’s total population surpasses 37 million—about 30% of the country total.
Consequently, even with one of the world’s largest railway systems, trains in Tokyo are incredibly crowded, with a boarding rate of 200% during peak time in the most overcrowded areas. The city is also famous for its Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection on the planet.
The Largest Cities by Metropolitan Area
Tokyo also leads by our final metric, metropolitan area.
This measurement is similar to urban area, but is generally defined by official organizations, either for statistical purposes or governance.
In the United States, this takes the form of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), such as Chicago-Naperville-Elgin or Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler.
|#6||🇲🇽 Mexico City||21.8m|
|#7||🇧🇷 Sao Paulo||21.7m|
|#9||🇺🇸 New York||20.1m|
As the global urban population continues to rise, new cities, especially in Africa and Asia, are expected to vie for the “largest” tag soon.
The UN projects that by 2050, 68% of the world will live in urban areas.
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