By Luming Zhao
Human civilization has been defined by the rise of cities. In fact, the word derives from the Latin term civitas, or “city.”
Throughout history, the great cities of the world have driven economic, political, cultural, and social change. Simply put, our world would not be the same without the rise of cities.
Today, cities account for about 80% of global GDP, and account for some 55% of the world’s population. By the year 2050, according to the UN, more than two-thirds of the world will live in cities.
Cities, like nations, can benefit from population size. When leveraged well, sizable cities can become centers of trade and innovation. On the flip side, populous cities pose immense challenges to governments to provide infrastructure, healthcare, education and other needs.
These Three Top Ten lists of the world’s most populous cities from three different eras (2020, 2035 forecast, and 1950) offer a snapshot of the changing dynamics of our world.
The Top Ten Most Populous Cities – 2020
- Tokyo, Japan 37.4 Million
- Delhi, India 29.3 Million
- Shanghai, China 26.3 Million
- Sao Paulo, Brazil 21.8 Million
- Mexico City, Mexico 21.6 Million
- Cairo, Egypt 20.4 Million
- Dhaka, Bangladesh 20.2 Million
- Mumbai, India 20.1 Million
- Beijing, China 20 Million
- Osaka, Japan 19.2 Million
The Top Ten Most Populous Cities – 2035 (Forecast)
- Jakarta, Indonesia 38 Million
- Tokyo, Japan 37.8 Million
- Chongqing, China 32.2 Million
- Dhaka, Bangladesh 31.2 Million
- Shanghai, China 25.3 Million
- Karachi, Pakistan 24.8 Million
- Kinshasa, DRC 24.7 Million
- Lagos, Nigeria 24.2 Million
- Mexico City, Mexico 23.5 Million
- Mumbai, India 23.1 Million
The Top Ten Most Populous Cities – 1950
- New York, USA 12.3 Million
- Tokyo, Japan 11.2 Million
- London, UK 8.3 Million
- Osaka, Japan 7 Million
- Paris, France 6.2 Million
- Moscow, SU 5.3 Million
- Buenos Aires, Argentina 5.1 Million
- Chicago, USA 4.9 Million
- Kolkata, India – 4.6 Million
- Shanghai, China – 4.2 Million
Sources: United Nations, Oxford Economics.