Animation: The World's Largest Megacities by 2100
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Animation: World’s Largest Megacities by 2100

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Animation: The World’s Largest Megacities by 2100

Throughout the course of human history, the biggest cities have always seemed impossibly large.

For many millennia, it was almost unfathomable for a city to sustain more than 1 million residents. In fact, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the largest cities globally, such as London and Beijing, were able to consistently hold populations beyond that impressive mark.

Despite this, in the modern era, we’ve quickly discovered that a city of 1 million people isn’t remarkable at all. In China alone, there are now over 100 cities with a million people today – and as such, our mental benchmark for what we consider to be a “big city” has changed considerably from past times.

Thinking Big

Just like a city the size of modern Tokyo was hard to imagine for someone living in the 19th century, it can be an extremely difficult thought experiment for us to visualize what future megacities will look like.

Researchers at the Global Cities Institute have crunched the numbers to provide us with one view of the potential megacities of the future, extrapolating a variety of factors to project a list of the 101 largest cities in the years 2010, 2025, 2050, 2075, and 2100.

Today’s video uses this data – it’s also an extension to the previous work we did based on the report here.

The Largest Megacities by 2100

According to the report, human geography will look completely unfamiliar by the turn of the century.

Here is a list of the 20 largest megacities projected for 2100:

RankPopulation (2100)CityCountry
#188.3 millionLagosNigeria
#283.5 millionKinshasaDRC
#373.7 millionDar Es SalaamTanzania
#467.2 millionMumbaiIndia
#557.3 millionDelhiIndia
#656.6 millionKhartoumSudan
#756.1 millionNiameyNiger
#854.3 millionDhakaBangladesh
#952.4 millionKolkataIndia
#1050.3 millionKabulAfghanistan
#1149.1 millionKarachiPakistan
#1246.7 millionNairobiKenya
#1341.4 millionLilongweMalawi
#1440.9 millionBlantyre CityMalawi
#1540.5 millionCairoEgypt
#1640.1 millionKampalaUganda
#1740.0 millionManilaPhilippines
#1837.7 millionLusakaZambia
#1936.4 millionMogadishuSomalia
#2035.8 millionAddis AbabaEthiopia

By the year 2100, it’s estimated that 13 of the world’s largest megacities will be located in Africa. Meanwhile, India will hold three of them – and there will be zero of them found in the Americas, China, or Europe.

Here’s a final look at the top three:

#1: Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is expected to push the limits of how big a metropolis can get. Already, Lagos has seen explosive growth over the past few decades, and is growing so fast that no one really knows how many people live there. Over 2,000 people emigrate to the city every day, and current population estimates vary widely from 11 to 21 million inhabitants.

Either way, by the turn of the century, Lagos is projected to have a population north of 88 million.

#2: Kinshasa, DRC
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is projected to be the second largest city in the world with a population of 83 million.

#3: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar Es Salaam, a city on the coast of Tanzania, has a population of just 4.4 million today. By 2100, its population is projected to jump by a whopping 1,588%, putting the total at 74 million inhabitants.

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Misc

Mapped: Second Primary Languages Around the World

This fascinating map highlights the second most commonly spoken primary language in almost nearly every country.

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Second Languages Around the World Shareable

Mapped: Second Primary Languages Around the World

After the primary language, what second languages are used as native tongues in your country?

The answer reveals a lot about history and location. Whether through immigration, colonization, or local culture, a primary language can either spread around the world or remain rooted in place.

This map from MoveHub shows the second most commonly spoken primary language in most countries, using data from the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia as of February 2021.

The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Languages

First, it’s important to differentiate between primary languages and secondary languages.

A primary language—also known as a first or native language—is the language we use most frequently to communicate. These are languages we are usually born with, have a lot of exposure to, and use at home.

On the other hand, a secondary language is one we learn or pick up after our primary language. In many countries, English is the most commonly learned, with close to 1 billion speakers.

But a map of common second languages can simply show just how many countries prioritize learning English, the de-facto international language in many organizations. Instead, this map highlights the movement of people by showing the second-most common primary language.

The Second Most Common Primary Languages by Country

Even when filtering by primary language use, however, English and other Indo-European languages dominate the world.

With 55 countries speaking it as the second-most common primary language, English came out on top.

Top 10 Most Popular Second Primary LanguagesNumber of Countries
English55
French14
Russian13
Spanish8
Creole8
Arabic6
Kurdish4
Portugese4
Italian3
Quechua3

The use of English as a second primary language was primarily concentrated in Western Europe, Northern Africa, and Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Similarly to second-place French with 14 countries and third-place Russian with 13 countries, English was most common in proximity to English-speaking countries or where there was a history of immigration.

Other second-most common primary languages highlighted different cultures within countries, such as China’s second-most common language Cantonese. Alternatively, they showed the primary indigenous language before colonization, such as the Quechua languages in South America.

What other interesting or surprising language patterns can you spot in the map above?

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Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

This detailed map looks at where humans have (and haven’t) modified Earth’s terrestrial environment. See human impact in incredible detail.

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human impact on earths surface

Mapped: Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

With human population on Earth approaching 8 billion (we’ll likely hit that milestone in 2023), our impact on the planet is becoming harder to ignore with each passing year.

Our cities, infrastructure, agriculture, and pollution are all forms of stress we place on the natural world. This map, by David M. Theobald et al., shows just how much of the planet we’ve now modified. The researchers estimate that 14.6% or 18.5 million km² of land area has been modified – an area greater than Russia.

Defining Human Impact

Human impact on the Earth’s surface can take a number of different forms, and researchers took a nuanced approach to classifying the “modifications” we’ve made. In the end, 10 main stressors were used to create this map:

  1. Built-Up Areas: All of our cities and towns
  2. Agriculture: Areas devoted to crops and pastures
  3. Energy and extractive resources: Primarily locations where oil and gas are extracted
  4. Mines and quarries: Other ground-based natural resource extraction, excluding oil and gas
  5. Power plants: Areas where energy is produced – both renewable and non-renewable
  6. Transportation and service corridors: Primarily roads and railways
  7. Logging: This measures commodity-based forest loss (excludes factors like wildfire and urbanization)
  8. Human intrusion: Typically areas adjacent to population centers and roads that humans access
  9. Natural systems modification: Primarily modifications to water flow, including reservoir creation
  10. Pollution: Phenomenon such as acid rain and fog caused by air pollution

The classification descriptions above are simplified. See the methodology for full descriptions and calculations.

A Closer Look at Human Impact on the Earth’s Surface

To help better understand the level of impact humans can have on the planet, we’ll take a closer look three regions, and see how the situation on the ground relates to these maps.

Land Use Contrasts: Egypt

Almost all of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile and its delta, making it an interesting place to examine land use and human impact.

egypt land use impact zone

The towns and high intensity agricultural land following the river stand out clearly on the human modification map, while the nearby desert shows much less impact.

Intensive Modification: Netherlands

The Netherlands has some of the heavily modified landscapes on Earth, so the way it looks on this map will come as no surprise.

netherlands land use impact zone

The area shown above, Rotterdam’s distinctive port and surround area, renders almost entirely in colors at the top of the human modification scale.

Resource Extraction: West Virginia

It isn’t just cities and towns that show up clearly on this map, it’s also the areas we extract our raw materials from as well. This mountainous region of West Virginia, in the United States, offers a very clear visual example.

west virginia land use impact zone

The mountaintop removal method of mining—which involves blasting mountains in order to retrieve seams of bituminous coal—is common in this region, and mine sites show up clearly in the map.

You can explore the interactive version of this map yourself to view any area on the globe. What surprises you about these patterns of human impact?

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