What are the most populous cities in the world? Here is a list of the 10 most populous cities in the world.
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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of the world’s most populous cities are located in the world’s two most populous countries, China and India. Among these are Shanghai and Beijing, with populations of 26 and 20 million respectively, Delhi (29 million) and Mumbai (more than 20 million).
However, Tokyo is the most populous city in the world if you count the entire Tokyo metro area, with a total of more than 37 million residents. Another Japanese city, Osaka, also has a very large population with nearly 20 million people. There are also several non-Asian cities with high populations, including Mexico City (more than 21.5 million), Cairo (closer to 20 million) and Buenos Aires (nearly 15.5 million).
Among European cities, Istanbul is the most populous, with more than 14.5 million inhabitants. This is followed by Moscow (over 12 million) and Paris (11 million including the Paris metro area). These cities are of course also culturally significant, and they welcomed millions of tourists each year (before the COVID-19 pandemic).
There are quite a few famous and culturally rich cities that have a smaller population, often resulting in a higher standard of living. Barcelona, Sydney, Berlin and Vancouver all have less than five million residents, but are very popular options for city living.
There are also some relatively small cities with great cultural, historical or political prestige, such as Sarajevo (314,000), Edinburgh (502,000) and Venice (631,000), proving that the cities Small towns can mean a lot regardless of their population size.
A list of all cities in the world is available at the end of this post. And now let’s take a look at the 10 most populous cities in the world.
1. Tokyo (Population: 37,435,191)
Tokyo’s population in 2021 is estimated at 37,435,191 people. In 1950, the population of Tokyo was 11,274,641. Tokyo has suffered a population decline of 53,324 since 2015, representing a -0.14% annual change. These population estimates and projections are taken from the latest revision of the United Nations World Urbanization Outlook. These estimates represent Tokyo’s urban agglomeration, which typically includes Tokyo’s population along with neighboring suburban areas.
According to recent estimates, the 23 wards that make up the city of Tokyo had a 2016 population of about 9,262,046. These 23 wards form the boundaries of the historic city of Tokyo, which was officially dissolved in 1943 when it merged with the prefecture. Today, Tokyo has expanded beyond its original city boundaries and is one of the largest metropolises in the world.
Tokyo Prefecture, where the city of Tokyo was merged, was home to 13,047,446 people in 2010. But the story doesn’t end there – the Tokyo metropolitan area extends beyond the prefectural boundaries.
According to the 2016 estimate of Tokyo’s population, the metropolis is home to 13.5 million people, or 9,262,046 people in all 23 prefectures. This does not include the population of the metro area, which we will get to in a moment.
Tokyo’s population can be a bit confusing because of the way the figures are presented. The 23 counties have a population of 9.2 million, but the municipality has a population in excess of 13 million. The larger Tokyo metropolitan area, spread over 3 wards, is much larger and has an estimated population of more than 36 million. That means the greater Tokyo area is home to 25% of Japan’s population and it is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. In fact, the metropolitan area is so large that it is 1.5 times larger than the next largest metropolitan area in the world, Seoul.
By any measure, Tokyo is the largest city in Japan. Its 23 prefectures are nearly three times the size of Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city, with about 3.7 million residents.
City size and population density
Tokyo core covers an area of 2,188 square kilometers. However, the expanded city covers an area of approximately 13,572 square kilometers. Impressively. Now, to find the rough population density of the Tokyo area, we combine the total population with the space available to the residents, this number is 6,225 people living per square kilometer.
Tokyo Population History
Tokyo has always been Japan’s largest city, and one of the most powerful in Asia, if not the world. It was once called Edo, which grew from a small village, in the 1720s, to the first city in Asia with a population of over 1 million.
Renamed Tokyo in 1868, the city continued to grow rapidly. By 1900, its population surpassed 2 million for the first time, and by the early 1940s the larger metropolitan area was home to more than 7 million people.
World War II saw the only major population drop in the city’s history (though there have been other smaller drops over the years.) Tokyo’s population halved in just 5 years and when Japan surrendered in 1945, its population was only 3.5 million.
Gradual attrition accounted for most of the decline, although the large-scale Allied air raids also inflicted some staggering damage – at least 100,000 people were killed in US Air Force bombing. entered Tokyo on March 9, 1945, and an estimated one million people were displaced.
The population rebounded rapidly after the war, perhaps indicating that many of its inhabitants had temporarily moved out of the city. It took less than a decade for the city to recover to its pre-war population, and in 1956 Tokyo’s population surpassed 8 million for the first time. Since then, growth has been steady, rather than spectacular, and although Tokyo’s economy (like Japan’s) has underperformed in recent years, its population has continued to grow slowly.
The latest census data, used above, is from 2010. There are no firm data for Tokyo’s population as of 2016, so the figures listed here are estimates based on city growth rate and preliminary 2015 census data.
Tokyo is a big commuter city. That means many people in the city at one point in time didn’t actually live in the city; they go to work every day to work. In 2015, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government estimated the city’s nighttime and daytime population, finding that although the city’s population was around 15,576 million during the day, this number dropped to 13,159 million people in the middle of the night. That means, every day, about 2,400,000 people come to Tokyo.
For those of working age, the workforce is divided as follows: Clerical, Technical and Management (42.3%), Sales and Service (26.2%), Manufacturing and Transport (17.7%) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (0.4%).
By most measures, Tokyo is the richest city in the world. Its total GDP in 2007 was $1.9 billion; $300 million more than the next richest city, New York. When adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), the difference between Tokyo and New York narrows: in 2005, Tokyo had a PPP GDP of $1,617 billion, compared with New York’s $1,403.
The age breakdown of Tokyo’s population is, as you’d expect, skewed towards working age. The most recent official Tokyo demographics were released in 2010 and they show that 68.2% of Tokyo residents are aged 15-64. In line with a country with the longest life expectancy in the world, Tokyo also has a high rate of retirees: 20.4% of people aged 65 and over. The remaining 11.4% of residents are children aged 0-14.
Life expectancy in Tokyo matches the national average of 78.8 years. Men in Tokyo can expect to live to 79.59 years and women to 86.35 years.
Tokyo’s population growth
Japan is a country that is projected to experience rapid population decline due to low immigration, a rapidly aging population, and a very low birth rate. Japan today is the oldest country in the world, and Tokyo is no exception to the trend that the whole country is following.
A recent study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which included a group of academics and city officials, estimated Tokyo’s population by 2100. The group estimated that Tokyo’s population would be just 7, 13 million people, compared with 13.16 million according to the 2010 census. They also predict the city will peak at 13.35 million in 2020 before a steady decline. Meanwhile, Japan’s population as a whole will decline by more than 61% by 2100.
Meanwhile, the Japan Times forecasts that the entire population of Tokyo Prefecture, which is the heart of the metropolitan area, will be cut in half between 2010 and 2100.
This means that Tokyo’s population is expected to halve over the next 90 years, and by 2100, 3.27 million of the city’s 7.13 million residents will be over 65 years old. The country’s working population, concentrated mainly in Tokyo, will age, and Tokyo’s position as a cosmopolitan city will be at risk.