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Ranked: The World’s Largest Cities By Population

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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:

RankCityPopulation (Million)
#1🇨🇳 Chongqing32.1m
#2🇨🇳 Shanghai24.9m
#3🇨🇳 Beijing 21.9m
#4🇮🇳 Delhi16.8m
#5🇨🇳 Chengdu16.0m
#6🇹🇷 Istanbul15.5m
#7🇵🇰 Karachi14.9m
#8🇨🇳 Guangzhou14.5m
#9🇨🇳 Tianjin13.9m
#10🇯🇵 Tokyo13.5m

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:

RankCity Population (Million)
#1🇯🇵 Tokyo37.7m
#2🇮🇩 Jakarta33.8m
#3🇮🇳 Delhi32.2m
#4🇨🇳 Guangzhou26.9m
#5🇮🇳 Mumbai25.0m
#6🇵🇭 Manila24.9m
#7🇨🇳 Shanghai24.1m
#8🇧🇷 Sao Paulo23.1m
#9🇰🇷 Seoul23.0m
#10🇲🇽 Mexico City21.8m

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.

RankCity Population (Million)
#1🇯🇵 Tokyo37.3m
#2🇮🇩 Jakarta33.4m
#3🇮🇳 Delhi 29.0m
#4🇰🇷 Seoul25.5m
#5🇮🇳 Mumbai24.4m
#6🇲🇽 Mexico City21.8m
#7🇧🇷 Sao Paulo21.7m
#8🇳🇬 Lagos 21.0m
#9🇺🇸 New York20.1m
#10🇷🇺 Moscow20.0m

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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Mapped: 15 Countries with the Highest Smoking Rates

Since the 1950s, many countries have tried to discourage tobacco use and bring down smoking rates. Here’s where they haven’t worked.

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A cropped map with the 15 countries with the highest smoking rates in the world.

Mapped: 15 Countries with the Highest Smoking Rates

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.

It was not until 1950 when the link between smoking and lung cancer was proven, though physicians as far back as the late 19th century had identified it as a potential cause.

Since then, many countries have discouraged tobacco products in an attempt to reduce smoking rates, and consequent health effects.

We visualize the countries with the highest rates of tobacco use among their population aged 15 and older. Data is sourced from the World Health Organization, and is current up to 2022.

Which Countries Smoke the Most?

In Nauru, nearly half of the population aged 15+ uses a tobacco product, the highest in the world. The island also has a high obesity rate, and nearly one-third of the population suffers from diabetes, due to poor nutritional variety in the food supply.

Here’s a list of smoking rates by country, ranked from highest to lowest.

RankCountryTobacco use in
those aged 15+
1🇳🇷 Nauru48%
2🇲🇲 Myanmar44%
3🇰🇮 Kiribati40%
4🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea40%
5🇧🇬 Bulgaria40%
6🇷🇸 Serbia40%
7🇹🇱 Timor-Leste39%
8🇮🇩 Indonesia38%
9🇭🇷 Croatia37%
10🇸🇧 Solomon Islands37%
11🇦🇩 Andorra36%
12🇧🇦 Bosnia &
Herzegovina
36%
13🇨🇾 Cyprus36%
14🇯🇴 Jordan36%
15🇫🇷 France35%
N/A🌍 World23%

Note: Figures rounded. “Tobacco use” includes smoke and smokeless products.

Meanwhile, countries in the Balkan also see a high incidence of tobacco use, bucking the general European trend. Entrenched cultural norms, lax laws, and inexpensive cigarettes are some of the most commonly identified causes.

On the other hand, tobacco use is a lot lower in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa.

In the U.S., fewer than one in four adults smoke. Canada is even lower at 12% of the population. But some African countries (Nigeria and Ghana) are all the way down in the single-digits, at 3%.

Interestingly, men smoke more than women in nearly every country in the world.

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