More than half of the world's population – 55 percent – lives in cities. By 2050, that figure is predicted to jump to 68 percent, according to the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
As the world continues to urbanize, a handful of countries will account for much of the growth. Between 2018 and 2050, the U.N. estimates 35 percent of urbanization will occur in India, China and Nigeria alone.
Today about 4.2 billion people live in cities, with North America, Latin America and the Caribbean making up the most urbanized regions of the world and Africa remaining the most rural.
These are the world's 10 largest urban areas, or "urban agglomerations," based on 2015 data, the most recent released by the U.N's population division.
The largest cities in the world
The largest cities in the world
Country: China 2015 Population: 18.42 million
In an effort to prevent crowding and pollution, the Chinese government in 2017 announced plans to limit the capital's population to 23 million.
State-led rules have been effective in curbing population growth, according to The Guardian. Migrants have been pushed out of the capital and ongoing efforts to "beautify" the city have included "rebuilding grittier districts, rounding up street vendors, closing or moving hundreds of markets and bricking up restaurants, bars and shops without licenses."
9. New York-Newark
Country: United States 2015 Population: 18.65 million
New York is the largest city in the United States, with a population twice the size of Los Angeles, the country’s second-biggest city. The Statue of Liberty, located on the city's Liberty Island, was gifted from France to the U.S. and constructed in 1886. The statue was shipped as 350 pieces in 214 crates and took four months to assemble.
New Jersey’s Newark, located 8 miles from New York City, is home to the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the U.S. The city’s Branch Brook Park has 5,300 cherry trees, which is 1,600 more than in Washington, D.C.
7. Kinki major metropolitan area (Osaka and Kyoto)
Country: Japan 2015 Population: 19.3 million
The Japanese city of Osaka, once the country’s capital, is the birthplace of Bunraku, Japanese puppet theater. The puppeteers are usually in full view of the audience, but are dressed in all black in order to be “invisible.”
The city is nicknamed “The Nation’s Kitchen” because of the vital role it played in managing Japan’s economy and trade during the 17th century.
Country: India 2015 Population: 19.32 million
The city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is India's leading financial capital and home to the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Every day in the city, more than "200 trains make over 2,000 trips along 300 kilometres (186 miles) of track, carrying more passengers per kilometre than any railway on earth," according to National Geographic. The city offers a "ladies special" train service exclusively for women commuters to help them travel comfortably during the morning and evening peak hours.
5. São Paulo
Country: Brazil 2015 Population: 20.88 million
The Brazilian city of São Paulo has the third worst commute in the world, according to Thrillist. Residents can expect an average daily commute time of 93 minutes.
As a result of water shortages and drought worsened by climate change, some parts of Mexico City – originally built a mile and a half above sea level – are sinking at a rate of about 12 inches per year.
The Mexican city is unique among mega-cities in that it houses more than 6,000 acres of United Nations-protected ancient farm land within its borders.
After Mumbai, Delhi is the second richest Indian city. As of 2017, the city had a total wealth of $450 billion and was home to 23,000 millionaires and 18 billionaires.
Country: Japan 2015 Population: 37.26 million
Tokyo, which translates to “Eastern Capital,” was named Edo until 1869 when the Japanese city was renamed by Emperor Meiji. Before the city became a metropolis, Tokyo was a small fishing village. Today, its Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest fish market in the world, known for its tuna auctions, in which a tuna once sold for $1.7 million.
As the world’s biggest urban area, Tokyo has a population that accounts for more than a quarter of all of Japan
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The Biggest Cities in the Future
By 2030, the world is likely to have 43 mega-cities with more than 10 million residents, with most located in developing regions, according to the U.N.
The U.N. predicts these will be the largest urban areas in 2035:
1. Delhi, India - 43.35 million
2. Tokyo, Japan - 36.01 million
3. Shanghai, China - 34.34 million
4. Dhaka, Bangladesh - 31.23 million
5. Cairo, Egypt - 28.50 million
6. Mumbai, India - 27.34 million
7. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo - 26.68 million
8. Mexico City, Mexico - 25.41 million
9. Beijing, China - 25.37 million
10. São Paulo, Brazil - 24.49 million