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Last edited 25 Jan 2023
What is a megacity?
The term ‘megacity’ refers to metropolitan areas with a total population of more than 10 million people. The definition of what constitutes a megacity generally refers to the population of an urban agglomeration, that is, it includes people living in the immediate suburbs outside of the established border of the city.
When did megacities emerge?
Megacities are a distinctly modern phenomenon, the proliferation of which has spread with the large-scale urbanisation that has occurred in many countries around the world in the 20th nad 21st centuries. Whereas only 3% of the global population lived in cities in 1800, by the end of the 20th century that figure had risen to 47%. This figure is predicted to rise to more than 70% by the second half of the 21st century, a number made even more startling by the fact that the human population is expected to have increased by two billion by that point.
Historically, the growth of big cities first occurred during the industrial revolution, when large numbers of people moved to cities in order to find work - a trend broadly associated with developed nations. In contrast, contemporary megacity development is predominantly focused in areas of the world that are the least developed.
How many megacities are there?
The 34 megacities are:
- Tokyo 37.39 million
- Delhi 30.29 million
- Shanghai 27.05 million
- São Paulo 22.04 million
- Ciudad de México (Mexico City) 21.78 million
- Dhaka 21 million
- Al-Qahirah (Cairo) 20.9 million
- Beijing 20.46 million
- Mumbai (Bombay) 20.41 million
- Kinki M.M.A. (Osaka) 19.16 million
- New York-Newark 18.8 million
- Karachi 16.09 million
- Chongqing 15.87 million
- Istanbul 15.19 million
- Buenos Aires 15.15 million
- Kolkata (Calcutta) 14.85 million
- Lagos 14.36 million
- Kinshasa 14.34 million
- Manila 13.92 million
- Tianjin 13.58 million
- Rio de Janeiro 13.45 million
- Guangzhou, Guangdong 13.3 million
- Lahore 12.64 million
- Moskva (Moscow) 12.53 million
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 12.44 million
- Shenzhen 12.35 million
- Bangalore 12.32 million
- Paris 11.01 million
- Bogotá 10.97 million
- Chennai (Madras) 10.97 million
- Jakarta 10.77 million
- Lima 10.71 million
- Krung Thep (Bangkok) 10.53 million
- Hyderabad 10 million
Ref UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Dynamics, World Urbanization Prospects 2018, Population of Urban Agglomerations with 300,000 Inhabitants or More in 2018, by country, 1950-2035 (thousands). https://population.un.org/wup/Download/
- From Calcutta to Kolkata - legacy and modernisation.
- Global Construction Megacities 2017.
- Megatrends: Globalisation.
- Megatrends: Smart Building Technology.
- Metro cities - the future of urbanisation.
- Must cities grow to compete?
- Shanghai's One City Nine Towns.
- Twin cities.
- Types of city.
- National Geographic - The growth of megacities
- UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Dynamics, World Urbanization Prospects 2018, Population of Urban Agglomerations with 300,000 Inhabitants or More in 2018, by country, 1950-2035 (thousands). https://population.un.org/wup/Download/
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