When one thinks of the most populous cities in the world, the first ones that come to mind are the major European cities like London or le megalopolis like New York: a common mistake that many make. According to recent statistics, at the moment the world population it can count more than 7 billion inhabitants, but which cities are the most populous? Here is the Top 10, with data updated to the latest censuses, of the real world megalopolises.
The 10 most populous cities in the world
1. Chongqing, Cina
The record as the most populous city in the world goes to the Chinese megalopolis of Chongqing, located in the center-south of the country. With its approximately 36 million inhabitants (2019 census) it is also the largest municipality by surface. Chongquing is a modern port city that sits on the banks of the Yangtze River and has undergone rapid economic growth while maintaining important green spaces. It is also known as Mountain city due to the hilly conformation of the land on which it developed.
2. Shanghai, China
The second most populous city in the world is Shanghai, With its 27,1 million inhabitants (2017 census). Considered the main economic, commercial and financial center of the country, Shanghai is an extremely modern and cosmopolitan megalopolis that is constantly evolving and transforming. While becoming more and more one urban jungle with its ultramodern buildings located mainly in the Pudong district, this city still retains some traces of the past, with the neoclassical architecture in the Bund area.
3. Beijing, China
The big capital of China, with its three millennia of history, takes third place in the ranking of the most populated cities in the world, with 24,5 million inhabitants (2016 census). The nation's political, cultural and scientific center, Beijing is renowned not only for its ancients historical sites such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and Beihai Park, but also for its own modern and futuristic architecture, as can be seen by visiting the Wangfujing open-air shopping mall and the Olympic Park.
4. Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos is among the North African cities which has recorded an exponential population growth and, to date, is among the cities with the most inhabitants in the world, with 16,3 million inhabitants (2015 census) destined, according to forecasts, to further double. The Nigerian city in fact holds the record for the speed of demographic growth in Africa and is considered the main commercial and economic center of the state. Lagos perfectly represents the contradictions that characterize African metropolises: families of millionaires in central districts such as Lagos Island e Victoria Island and people living in slums in outlying areas.
5. Tientsin, Cina
Among the cities with the highest GDP growth among Chinese ones, Tianjin (also known as Tianjin) boasts 15,2 million inhabitants, (2015 census) ranking fifth among the 10 cities with the most population in the world. Thanks to the country's economic development, it has become one of China's main economic hubs, as well as having one of the main national trading ports.
6. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a megacity located in northwestern Turkey and is the most populous municipal center in Europe. The population of Istanbul has 15 million inhabitants (2018 census) and is considered a "global city", as it has certain characteristics born thanks to the effect of globalization. Among the most populated cities in the world, the urbanization of Istanbul is constantly growing.
7. Karachi, Pakistan
Capital of the province of Sind and hub of Pakistan's industrial and financial sector, Karachi has gone from being a simple fishing village to becoming one of the most populous cities in the world, coming to count about 14,9 million inhabitants (2017 census). According to recent statistics also, the population increases by 5% every year. The turbulent history of the city has brought together numerous ethnic groups that still coexist today: not only Pakistanis, but also Indians, Arabs, Indonesians and Europeans.
8. Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese metropolis of Tokyo, with its 13,1 million inhabitants (2015 census) wins the eighth place in the ranking of the most populated megacities in the world. Tokyo, in recent years, has been increasingly chosen and appreciated as a tourist destination and welcomes visitors from all over the world. The capital of Japan is full of attractions and neighborhoods to explore, to discover the elegance and modernity of the city.
9. Canton, China
Another Chinese city in the Top 10 of the most populous cities in the world, and that is Canton, China. With 13 million inhabitants (2008 census), Canton is the largest coastal city in southern China. Considered one megalopolis worldwide, is the third most important city after Shanghai and Beijing.
10. Mumbai, India
Mumbai is also among the most populous cities in the world with its own 12,4 million inhabitants (2010 census). Definitely different from other cities in India, Mumbai is a megalopolis that over the years gets closer and closer to the big western cities, while retaining that ancient and multifaceted charm typical of this country.
Most populous cities in the world: the other megacities in constant growth
The ranking, of course, could continue. Among the most populous metropolitan areas in the world we also find Moscow and St. Paul with 12 million inhabitants, Lahore e Delhi with 11 million inhabitants, Mexico City with 8,9 million inhabitants e London and New York, with 8,8 and 8,6 million inhabitants respectively.