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Ranked: The Megaregions Driving the Global Economy

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Ranked: The Megaregions Driving the Global Economy

If you’ve ever flown cross-country in a window seat, chances are, the bright lights at night have caught your eye. From above, the world tells its own story—as concentrated pockets of bright light keep the world’s economy thriving.

Today’s visualization relies on data compiled by CityLab researchers to identify the world’s largest megaregions. The team defines megaregions as:

  • Areas of continuous light, based on the latest night satellite imagery
  • Capturing metro areas or networks of metro areas, with a combined population of 5 million or higher
  • Generating economic output (GDP) of over $300 billion, on a PPP basis

The satellite imagery comes from the NOAA, while the base data for economic output is calculated from Oxford Economics via Brookings’ Global Metro Monitor 2018.

It’s worth pointing out that each megaregion may not be connected by specific trade relationships. Rather, satellite data highlights the proximity between these rough but useful regional estimates contributing to the global economy—and supercities are at the heart of it.

From Megalopolis to Megaregion

Throughout history, academics have described vast, interlinked urban regions as a ‘megalopolis’, or ‘megapolis’. Economic geographer Jean Gottman popularized the Greek term, referring to the booming and unprecedented urbanization in Bos-Wash—the northeast stretch from Boston and New York down to Washington, D.C.:

This region has indeed a “personality” of its own […] Every city in this region spreads out far and wide around its original nucleus.

Gottmann, Megalopolis (1961)

By looking at adjacent metropolitan areas rather than country-level data, it can help provide an entirely new perspective on the global distribution of economic activity.

Where in the world are the most powerful urban economic clusters today?

The Largest Megaregions Today

The world’s economy is a sum of its parts. Each megaregion contributes significantly to the global growth engine, but arguably, certain areas pull more weight than others.

MegaregionCitiesRegionPopulationEconomic Output (EO)EO per Capita
1. Bos-WashNew York, Washington, D.C., BostonNorth America 47.6M$3,650B$76,681
2. Par-Am-MunParis, Amsterdam, Brussels, MunichEurope43.5M$2,505B$57,586
3. Chi-PittsChicago, Detroit, Cleveland, PittsburghNorth America32.9M$2,130B$64,742
4. Greater TokyoTokyoAsia39.1M$1,800B$46,036
5. SoCalLos Angeles, San DiegoNorth America22M$1,424B$64,727
6. Seoul-SanSeoul, BusanAsia35.5M$1,325B$37,324
7. Texas TriangleDallas, Houston, San Antonio, AustinNorth America18.4M$1,227B$66,685
8. BeijingBeijing, TianjinAsia37.4M$1,226B$32,781
9. Lon-Leed-ChesterLondon, Leeds, ManchesterEurope22.6M$1,177B$52,080
10. Hong-ShenHong Kong, ShenzhenAsia19.5M$1,043B$53,487
11. NorCalSan Francisco, San JoseNorth America 10.8M$925B$85,648
12. ShanghaiShanghai, HangzhouAsia 24.2M$892B$36,860
13. TaipeiTaipeiAsia16.7M$827B$49,521
14. São PaoloSão PaoloSouth America33.5M$780B$23,284
15. Char-LantaCharlotte, AtlantaNorth America 10.5M$656B$62,476
16. CascadiaSeattle, PortlandNorth America8.8M$627B$71,250
17. Ista-BursIstanbul, BursaMENA14.8M$626B$42,297
18. Vienna-BudapestVienna, BudapestEurope12.8M$555B$43,359
19. Mexico CityMexico CityNorth America24.5M$524B$21,388
20. Rome-Mil-TurRome, Milan, TurinEurope13.8M$513B$37,174
21. Singa-LumpurSingapore, Kuala LumpurAsia12.7M$493B$38,819
22. Cairo-AvivCairo, Tel AvivMENA19.8M$472B$23,838
23. So-FloMiami, TampaNorth America 9.1M$470B$51,648
24. Abu-DubaiAbu Dhabi, DubaiMENA5M$431B$86,200
25. Osaka-Nagoya (tied)Osaka, NagoyaAsia9.1M$424B$46,593
25. Tor-Buff-Chester (tied)Toronto, Buffalo, RochesterNorth America8.5M$424B$49,882
27. Delhi-LahoreNew Delhi, LahoreAsia27.9M$417B$14,946
28. Barcelona-LyonBarcelona, LyonEurope7M$323B$46,143
29. ShandongJinan, Zibo, DongyingAsia14.2M$249B$17,535
Total602.2M$28,135B$46,720

Altogether, these powerhouses bring in over $28 trillion in economic output.

Unsurprisingly, Bos-Wash reigns supreme even today, with $3.6 trillion in economic output, over 13% of the total. The corridor hosts some of the highest-paying sectors: information technology, finance, and professional services.

The largest city in Brazil, São Paulo, is the only city in the Southern Hemisphere to make the list. The city was once heavily reliant on manufacturing and trade, but the $780 billion city economy is now embracing its role as a nascent financial hub.

On the other side of the world, the cluster of Asian megaregions combines for $8.7 trillion in total economic output. Of these, Greater Tokyo in Japan is the largest, while Shandong might be a name that fewer people are familiar with. Sandwiched between Beijing and Shanghai, the coastal province houses multiple high-tech industrial and export processing zones.

The data is even more interesting when broken down into economic output per capita—Abu-Dubai churns out an impressive $86,200 per person. Meanwhile, Delhi-Lahore is lowest on the per-capita list, at $14,946 per person across nearly 28 million people.

Where To Next?

This trend shows no sign of slowing down, as megacities are on the rise in the coming decade. Eventually, more Indian and African megaregions will make its way onto this list, led by cities like Lagos and Chennai.

Stay tuned to Visual Capitalist for a North America-specific outlook coming soon, and a deep dive into the biggest factors contributing to the growth of these megaregions.

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Visualizing Japan’s Top 25 Companies by Market Cap

Japan’s top 25 corporations are worth a combined $2 trillion.

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Graphic showing Japan’s 25 largest corporations.

Japan’s Top 25 Companies by Market Cap

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Japan’s top companies are worth a combined $2 trillion.

In this graphic, we use data from CompaniesMarketCap to list the country’s largest corporations, as measured by market capitalization as of Feb. 2, 2024.

Automaker and Electronics Company Lead

Japan is the third largest economy in the world after the United States and China, and also one of the top producers of manufactured goods globally.

The country’s largest company, automaker Toyota, has a market cap of over $273 billion. The company is the largest automobile manufacturer globally, producing about 10 million vehicles per year. It is also the 20th biggest company in the world.

In addition, the automaker is considered the most valuable brand in Japan, worth $53 billion.

RankNameSectorMarket Cap (USD)
1ToyotaConsumer Discretionary273,143,000,000
2SonyConsumer Discretionary121,276,000,000
3Mitsubishi UFJ FinancialFinancials112,989,000,000
4KeyenceTechnology108,077,000,000
5Nippon Telegraph & TelephoneCommunication Services106,295,000,000
6Tokyo ElectronTechnology87,707,456,525
7Fast RetailingConsumer Discretionary80,279,788,422
8Shin-Etsu ChemicalIndustrial79,917,463,493
9HitachiConglomerate74,758,274,959
10Mitsubishi CorporationConglomerate71,239,298,556
11KDDICommunication Services69,347,949,137
12Sumitomo Mitsui Financial GroupFinancials68,730,634,240
13NintendoCommunication Services66,761,374,986
14Itochu ShojiIndustrial65,654,901,787
15SoftBankFinancials63,807,211,511
16RecruitTechnology61,940,459,689
17Oriental LandConsumer Discretionary59,854,280,904
18Mitsui BussanIndustrial59,414,309,869
19Daiichi SankyoHealth Care58,176,818,863
20Chugai PharmaceuticalHealth Care57,498,589,104
21HondaConsumer Discretionary54,203,588,608
22Tokio MarineFinancials50,610,597,498
23Mizuho Financial GroupFinancials47,274,393,600
24DensoIndustrial47,119,375,583
25Japan TobaccoConsumer Discretionary46,744,684,688

In second place, Sony Group produces a variety of consumer electronics and entertainment products, including televisions, audio equipment, cameras, smartphones, and video games. The company also includes brands such as Sony Pictures and Sony Music, as well as a financial arm.

The list also includes Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MUFJ), Japan’s largest financial group with nearly $3 trillion in assets, and Recruit, an HR company that owns the job search engine Indeed, as well as the employer review site Glassdoor.

Nintendo, a well-known brand outside of Japan, ranks 13th among the biggest Japanese companies.

At the bottom, Japan Tobacco is the company responsible for selling two well-known American brands, American Spirit and Camel, outside of the United States.

Most of the largest companies in Japan are in the consumer discretionary sector (24%), followed by financial firms (20%) and industrial groups (16%).

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