This article is available also in spanish here

The 10 largest cities in the world: What does the future hold in store for them?

My list

Author | M. Martínez Euklidiadas

The ten most populated metropolitan areas of the world are home to 309.6 million people, which is almost 3.9% of the world's population (7.8 billion). Although some cities have high-density clusters with a focus on sustainability, there is an imbalance between their vast size and expansion and their lower impact per capita. What does the future hold for these extensive cities?

Guangzhou, the most densely populated city in the world

Guangzhou is the largest conurbation in the world, with 47.6 million inhabitants. Far from stabilizing, it is increasing at a rate of +1.85% per year due to migrants from rural areas in search of opportunities. Its population density is notably low (1,804 people per square kilometer), which poses a significant environmental risk due to the population being dispersed across suburban areas. The Chinese government hopes to limit its growth by promoting the creation of new urban areas, such as Xiong'an.

Tokyo, the most densely populated city in the world, too

Around 13.18 million people live in high urban density in Tokyo: 6,373 people per square kilometer. This means the city boasts one of the best per capita energy consumption rates, particularly in terms of rail transport. Unfortunately, as tends to be the case, the suburban population (40.5 million people) has now become disperse and has a high impact.

Shanghai and its overpopulation issues

largest cities - 98

Shanghai is considered to be the city with the highest economic growth in the world (double digit over fifteen years), partly due to population growth: 16 million in 2000 to over 34 in 2021 in the suburban area. Its rapid expansion in all directions and a road-based transport system are making its sustainable management unfeasible.

Jakarta, sinking under its own weight

Jakarta's growth (32.1 million people) is such that the entire region is sinking into the Java Sea. This problem is aggravating the issue of access to water in the city, with a water extraction policy that is also speeding up the rate at which the city is sinking. The authorities are now looking for a new capital, since the current one will gradually have to be evacuated.

Delhi, an expansive city

largest cities - 99

With 31.3 million inhabitants in a conurbation that has now merged and compressed cities such as Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, Gran Noida and Ghaziabad, Delhi is one of the most extensive and disorderly cities on Earth. Living in Delhi is equivalent to smoking 45 cigarettes a day.

Metro Manila, a sea of high-density shanty towns

Known as Metro Manila, this city is one of the world's most densely populated conurbations with 47,899 people per square kilometer. Although the impact per capita could be low, the lack of urban planning and territorial coherence has transformed suburbs into a sea of plastic and waste.

Mumbai, the cost of living 'stuck' to the ground

largest cities - 100

For decades, Mumbai did not allow the construction of high-rise buildings. The result was an urban growth pattern characterized by substandard housing with catastrophic consequences for its 25.6 million inhabitants. The conurbation sprawls from one end to the other, absorbing large nearby cities.

Seoul, orderly and sustainable growth

With its 25 million inhabitants, Seoul is one of the most environmentally conscious urban areas. It fosters a compact and restricted high-density urban planning system, car-free neighborhoods such as Songdo, and environmental initiatives replicated across the world.

Mexico City, famous for its traffic jams

The Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico includes Mexico City and a further 60 conurbations, which are home to 24.5 million people. Decades of car-based growth have made the region famous for its traffic jams, with a record 227 hours of extra travel time per year. In recent years, the authorities have managed to reverse part of the problem through public transport.

Sao Paulo, the city of favelas

The Sao Paulo favelas (22.6 million people) made the city famous due to its high rates of crime and delinquency. Far from resolving the problem, these suburban areas without services have 'evolved' into high-rise buildings to accommodate more residents, but without solving basic problems such as access to water, electricity or the sewage network.

One of the major problems of these metropolitan areas is access to basic services, such as drinking water, localized pollution or the heat island effect due to their urban sprawl. Common issues that are made worse given their high density, with particularly dangerous impacts on large populations experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

Images | Lycheeart, Photoholgic, Ag PIC, Abhay Singh

Related Content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
AK
Anna Kruk
school
student
FB
Federica Biondi
Metropolis.org
Head of Admin & Finance
Arielle von der Heyde
Arielle von der Heyde
Leuphana University
I am a student at the Leuphana University and am studying Environmental Science.
Juan Carlos Largo
Juan Carlos Largo
startcat
test
TT
Thao Ta
Macromedia
Master Student in Smart City Design
FJ
Fernando Jaramillo
Politécnico Grancolombiano
Project coordinator
Rebecca Couto da Silva
Rebecca Couto da Silva
University of Bolzano (PhD Student)
PhD Student
Alex Irwin-Hunt
Alex Irwin-Hunt
fDi Intelligence (FT Specialist)
Global Markets Editor
GJ
Godsee Joy
Deloitte
Government and Public Services Analyst
AV
Amilcar Vargas
Municipalidad Metropolitana de LIma
\\nFood Program Sub-Manager
Iftita Damai Agitasaria Tita
Iftita Damai Agitasaria Tita
Universitas Airlangga
Undergraduate Student
CESAR MORELOS
CESAR MORELOS
Arquitectura
PROYECTOS SUSTENTABLES
Tania  Sawaya do Espírito Santo
Tania Sawaya do Espírito Santo
Sociedade em Ação
bem  Joiner
bem Joiner
Atlanta Influences Everything, LLC.
Rodrigo Ribeiro
Rodrigo Ribeiro
Braengaged
Head of product and service - mentoring - routine system generator
Annette Abstoss
Annette Abstoss
Abstoss World Gastronomy SL
Impulsing ideas, projects and strategies for the food & hospitality business.
pg
presutti gianfranco
Comune di torino
Head fo innovation and european funds department
Meitha Soekotjo
Meitha Soekotjo
Good Shepherd
Director of Good Shepherd, Christian Non-profit Human Development Consultation Office
HW
Helen Wilkins
The Creative Planet Foundation
Managing Director of a Start up charity on the outskirts of Barcelona, aligned with the 17 SDGs
NURIA VALLESPIN
NURIA VALLESPIN
PEQUECITY LAB
DIRECTOR

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$