In 2020, the number of people living on the planet was 7.7 billion, 56% of whom lived in cities. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow by 2 billion people and 68% should be urban, according to a UN report. But which cities have the greatest number of inhabitants?
Since 2009 globally, the urban population has outnumbered the rural population. Every year, the world’s population becomes more and more urban. According to a UN study published in 2018, the global urbanization rate is expected to approach 70% in 2050.
Asia and Africa will be the continents that will contribute to this major increase in the city population, and in particular India, China and Nigeria. These three countries will account for 35% of projected urban population growth between 2018 and 2050 as India will add 416 million city dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million.
The classification of the most populated urban centers was established by the World Population Review from UN data cross-referenced with that of the various national bodies relating to demography.
Unsurprisingly, Asian and African cities take the lion’s share. However, the first step of the podium of the most populated city goes to the Japanese capital with its 37.27 million Tokyoites. It should be noted that Paris with its agglomeration is only in 28th position with just over 11 million inhabitants.
Here are the 15 cities with the largest population in 2022.
tokyo (japan) – 37,274,000 inhabitants
© Martijn BAUDOUIN / UNSPLASH
The Japanese capital is the first world metropolis by the number of inhabitants. This figure of 37.27 million corresponds to the population of Greater Tokyo. If we consider the wards of Tokyo proper, the figure drops to 9 million inhabitants.
new delhi (india) – 32,065,760 inhabitants
© Claire KELLY / UNSPLASH
The capital of India is one of the cities with the fastest population growth in the world, which leads this megalopolis to face many challenges such as providing the necessary water, electricity or road facilities for its inhabitants, but also solve the chronic problem of pollution.
shangHai (china) – 28,516,904 inhabitants
© Road Trip with Raj / UNSPLASH
Shanghai is the most populous city in China and the largest city proper in the world. But just like China, it faces demographic problems such as a very low fertility rate, an imbalance in the gender ratio and a rapidly aging population.
dhaka (bangladesh) – 22,478,116 inhabitants
© Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP
The capital and most populous city of Bangladesh, Dhaka shows a steady growth in its population. But like many other metropolises in the world, this population growth leads to a number of problems such as increased pollution, congestion of its infrastructure and an explosion of poverty.
sao paulo (brazil) – 22,429,800 inhabitants
© 3 Tres Consultoria e Criaçao / UNSPLASH
Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. Main economic metropolis of the country, it is inhabited by more than 12 million Paulists. Called “Regiao Metropolitana de Sao Paulo”, Greater Sao Paulo groups together 39 municipalities that are home to more than 22 million inhabitants. The urban development of Sao Paulo must take into account certain recurring problems related to housing, transport and poverty which poison the life of the inhabitants of this sprawling megalopolis.
Mexico City (Mexico) – 22,085,140 inhabitants
© Pedro PARDO / AFP
If the metropolitan area of Mexico City is populated by just over 22 million souls, Mexico City alone had nearly 9.2 million inhabitants in 2020. Bringing together 60 municipalities, Greater Mexico City is the most densely populated country. About 20% of the total population of Mexico lives in the capital, making Mexico City one of the largest cities in the world.
CAIRO (egypt) – 21,750,020 inhabitants
© Mohamed EL-SHAHED / AFP
The Egyptian capital is the largest city in Egypt but also in Africa and the Middle East. In 2016, Cairo was home to nearly 12 million Cairenes. Like all megacities in poor countries, the overpopulated urban area of Cairo suffers from serious problems of urban development leading to pollution, traffic jams, poverty…
beijing (china) – 21,333,332 inhabitants
© Zhang KAIYV / UNSPLASH
Like the Chinese population, Beijing has seen the number of its inhabitants increase at breakneck speed. Indeed, its population grew from 13.5 to 19.6 million between 2000 and 2010. Even today, the number of Pekingese continues to grow at a rapid pace. Although it is the capital and the engine of the economy of China, Beijing is however not the largest city in the country since this title returns to Shanghai.
bombay (india) – 20,961,472 inhabitants
© Ikshit PATEL / UNSPLASH
Since 1991, the population of the urban agglomeration of the capital of the Indian state of Marahashtra more than doubled. Bombay’s exceptional growth stems from the influx of rural migrants from other parts of India in search of work. But it poses town planning problems such as the existence of many slums like Dharavi, the largest and most famous in India. Economic and financial capital of the country, Bombay has one of the highest population densities in the world, estimated at 27,000 inhabitants per km2, more than double that of New Delhi, the Indian capital.
osaka (japan) – 19,059,856 inhabitants
© White.Rainforest / UNSPLASH
With more than 2.5 million inhabitants, this Japanese port city is part of the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. But, Osaka like other Japanese cities has known for at least a decade, a decline in its population due to very low fertility rates and deaths that exceed the number of births by about 200,000 in recent years. Forecasts show that Osaka should continue to see its population decline in the coming years.
chongqing (china) – 16,874,740 inhabitants
© Zhang QC / UNSPLASH
Located in southwestern China, the city proper is home to an estimated population of around 9 million, while the municipality of Chongqing, as large as a country like Austria, has over 35 million. inhabitants. Chongqing’s population growth continues to soar, increasing by 7.5% over the past decade. But the demographics of Chongqing and China are structurally concerning because its workforce continues to shrink while the elderly population continues to grow. By 2050, almost a third of China’s population will be over 60 and Chongqing will be no exception.
karachi (pakistan) – 16,839,950 inhabitants
© Asif HASSAN / AFP
The economic and financial capital of Pakistan, Karachi is the largest and most populous metropolitan city in the country. It brings together about 13% of the total Pakistani population. A port city and the country’s only megalopolis, Karachi is seeing its demographic growth grow at a rate of about 5% per year due in particular to strong migration of rural Pakistani populations. Between 1998 and 2011, Karachi’s urban area grew from 9.8 million to 21.2 million people or 115% increase, the fastest growing of any metropolitan area in the world.
istanbul (turkey) – 15,636,243 inhabitants
© Natalia Erunova / UNSPLASH
The economic, financial and cultural heart of Turkey, Istanbul is the country’s largest city. This transcontinental city is also one of the largest conurbations in Europe. With its 15 million inhabitants, it concentrates nearly 18% of the Turkish population. The city’s fastest population growth came in the 1950s due to rural exodus. The number of Istanbulites rose from 983,000 in 1950 to 10.92 million in 2000. Istanbul’s urban expansion in the 1980s doubled the number of its inhabitants.
Kinshasa (DRC) – 15,628,085 inhabitants
© Arsène MPIANA / AFP
Political, economic and cultural capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa is the most populated city of the country. This “urban monster” is also the largest French-speaking agglomeration in the world since it overtook Paris in the 2010s. Like the country as a whole, Kinshasa is experiencing galloping and uncontrollable demography. Indeed, the country has one of the highest fertility rates in the world with 6.11 children per woman. In 2019, the birth rate there was 40.6 births per 1,000 inhabitants. The current population of the country is estimated at around 90 million, the DRC is expected to exceed 100 million in 2024 and double its population by 2047.
lagos (nigeria) – 15,387,639 inhabitants
© Nupo Daniel DEYON / UNSPLASH
Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria, itself the most populous country in Africa. Bringing together a little more than 15 million intramural inhabitants, the Nigerian city currently has a little more than 22 million if we take into account its agglomeration. The economic and cultural capital of the country has experienced dazzling demographic growth since in just two generations, the population of the agglomeration has multiplied by 100, going from 200,000 inhabitants to 20 million. Even though Lagos has many millionaires, about 66% of the population lives in slums.