The World’s 34 Largest Megacities By Population

By citiesabc resources - Oct 21, 2020

In the next 20 years, it is estimated that around 70% of the world population will be living in megacities or urban areas with a population of 10 million people or more. As of today, there are 34 cities that meet the definition of a megacity around the globe. Asia, with 20 megacities, tops the list. But this number is only expected to keep growing.

As of today, almost half of the world’s population live in megacities. And although megacities are drivers of wealth, generate employment, and human progress, big cities are also responsible for driving climate change, inequality, as well as the breakdown of traditional family structures, especially remarkable in developed countries. Dan Hoornweg, a professor at the Ontario University and author of the study Population predictions for the world's largest cities in the 21st century with Kevin Pope, warns of a possible exception: "The fear is that African cities will increase their population without a proportional growth of their economy. And this would be a risk to the quality of life of its inhabitants.

From Tokyo To London: Top Megacities in the world

The first three largest megacities can be found in Asia. Tokyo comes first in the rankings for 2020 with 37.5 million residents. But in the upcoming years, Tokyo might lose first place. Young residents are having fewer children, leading the population to a decline. It is estimated that the population will be reduced to 7.13 million by 2100. Nearly 4 million of the above will be over the age of 65.

With a population of 28.5 million in 2020, Delhi comes second. Delhi is the second-wealthiest city in India after Mumbai and is home to 18 billionaires and 23,000 millionaires. Delhi ranks fifth among the Indian states and union territories in the human development index. Delhi has the second-highest GDP per capita in India. Delhi is of great historical significance as an important commercial, transport, and cultural hub, as well as the political center of India.

Shanghai closes the podium on the list that includes the megacities for 2020. The city has the largest population compared to the rest in China. Shanghai’s population for 2020 is 25.6 million. Specific constructions helped most residents to have access to water, electricity, and waste collection. But the population density is really high, which causes environmental problems such as a high level of air pollution.

At the 4th place of the list comes Sao Paulo in Brazil with 21.7 million population. A lot of residents have moved to the suburbs and commute to the city center for their work. So, the urban center has a high level of pollution and many other problems caused by overpopulation.

Mexico City is at number five of the list. The city’s population is 21.6 million. The number of residents reached a really high level between 1940 and 1995. This increase in population as a consequence of the growth of industries in the city center, which offered better access to electricity, water, and gas. Though the city has adequate water capacity, it lacks an efficient distribution system. As a result, those living in the suburbs are often forced to use untreated wastewater.

The next one on the list is Cairo. The city’s population for 2020 is 20.1 million. But most people in Cairo live in poverty. Almost 10 million people lived in Cairo’s slums in 2016. However, despite this fact, Cairo’s population continues to grow rapidly. Mumbai in India is at number 7 of the list. The city’s population is 20.0 million.

Beijing, China’s capital has a population growth rate of about 2% annually. Beijing’s population is 19.6 million.

This number gives the city the 8th place on the list with the largest cities in the world for 2020. The next one on the list is Dhaka in Bangladesh. The city’s population for 2020 is 19.3 million. And in number ten, with a population of 21.6 million, comes Osaka, Japan.

The World’s Largest Megacities By Population, 2020

Rank Mega City Country Population
1 Tokyo Japan 37.5 million
2 Delhi India 28.5 million
3 Shanghai China 25.6 million
4 Sao Paulo Brazil 21.7 million
5 Mexico City Mexico 21.6 million
6 Cairo Egypt 20.1 million
7 Mumbai India 20.0 million
8 Beijing China 19.6 million
9 Dhaka Bangladesh 19.5 million
10 Osaka Japan 19.3 million
11 New York-Newark United States 18.8 million
12 Karachi Pakistan 15.4 million
13 Buenos Aires Argentina 15.0 million
14 Chongqing China 14.8 million
15 Istanbul Turkey 14.7 million
16 Kolkata India 14.6 million
17 Manila Philippines 13.5 million
18 Lagos Nigeria 13.4 million
19 Rio de Janeiro Brazil 13.3 million
20 Tianjin China 13.2 million
21 Kinshasa DR Congo 13.1 million
22 Guangzhou China 12.6 million
23 Los Angeles United States 12.5 million
24 Moscow Russia 12.4 million
25 Shenzhen China 11.9 million
26 Lahore Pakistan 11.7 million
27 Bangalore India 11.4 millio
28 Paris France 11.1 million
29 Bogota Colombia 10.8 million
30 Jakarta Indonesia 10.6 million
31 Chennai India 10.5 million
32 Lima Peru 10.4 million
33 Bangkok Thailand 10.2 million
34 London UK 10 million

A good African representative is Lagos in Nigeria ranking 18th on the list. The city’s population is 13.4 million. There is also a very high level of poverty in Lagos as two out of three residents live in slums without clean water and electricity. Lagos’s population only continues to grow due to high birthrates. It is estimated that in the next years the population will grow rapidly.

The US counts for 2 megacities. New York-Neward, with 18.8 million citizens and ranking 11th Los Angeles, with 12.5 million residents total population, and ranking 23rd. The City of Angels started out as a town of just 4,000 people and gradually became a city that for many is characterized as a paradise.

In Europe there are only two megacities. At the 28th place of the list comes Paris with 11.1 million population. In the 1850s the city was transformed. Roads were widened, trees were planted and the sewage system was improved. So Parisian farmers came up to feed the booming population. New urban farms yielded 110 pounds of produce per resident annually.


At 34th place of the list comes London with a 10 million population. In 1815 London was the largest city in the world. Nowadays, it still has a place among the largest cities on the list globally. An influx of newcomers and young families is estimated to push the population over 11 million by 2050. What’s more, the number of cities with populations of more than 10 million people will rise to 41 by 2030.

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