The 30 Largest Cities in the World

Boy pointing at globe

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The world's largest urban area, Tokyo (38.1 million), has a larger population than the entire country of Canada (36.3 million). 

The data on these 30 largest cities of the world as of 2016, compiled by the United Nations Population Division, reflects the best possible estimates of the populations of these huge cities. Dynamic population growth makes determining the "exact" population of a city difficult, especially in a developing nation.

If you're wondering what these cities will look like in the​ ​future, the UN has also projected their population in the year 2030. The recent list has Lima, Peru, at No. 31 but in 2030 at No. 30, growing from 10 to 12.2 million to make the cutoff. India should have six entries instead of five in 2030, with the addition of Hyderabad growing to a projected 12.7 million.

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Tokyo, Japan: 38,140,000

Crowds of people in Shibuya, Tokyo
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The top city is still expected to top the list, though with fewer people than 2016; 2030's population projected population is 37,190,000.

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Delhi, India: 26,454,000

India, Delhi, Lotus Temple, Baha'i House of Worship
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Delhi, India, is projected to gain almost 10 million people by 2030 to end up with a population of about 36,060,000 and remain in second place.

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Shanghai, China: 24,484,000

Shanghai Urban Skyline, China
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Shanghai's estimated population of 30,751,000 in 2030 will keep it at the number three spot. 

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Mumbai, India: 21,357,000

Shoppers in alley in Mumbai, India
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Mumbai, India should remain right where it is on the world's rankings in 2030, with an expected population of 27,797,000.

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São Paulo, Brazil: 21,297,000

A street scene from Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo.
Adam Hester/Getty Images 

Asia and Africa are foreseen to have the most growth in the coming decades. As a result, in 2030, São Paulo, Brazil's projected 23,444,000 population will be only No. 11 on the world's most populous cities list.

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Beijing, China: 21,240,000

Forbidden City from Elevated view
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The UN Population Division forecasts Beijing, China, to rise to No. 5 on the list with 27,706,000 people in 2030, even though after that year the country's population may start to decline, based on fertility estimates and an aging population.

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Mexico City, Mexico: 21,157,000

Woman and man looking at mobile phone in Mexican market
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In 2030, Mexico City is anticipated to still be in the top 10 in population and the largest in the Western Hemisphere with 23,865,000 people, just edging out São Paulo, Brazil, from the top 10.

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Osaka, Japan: 20,337,000

Osaka Castle during sakura (cherry blossom) season
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Tokyo​ isn't the only Japanese city projected to drop, as the country is experiencing negative population growth. Osaka's estimated number in 2030 is 19,976,000.

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Cairo, Egypt: 19,128,000

View from the Citadel on the Madrasa of Sultan Hassan Mosque and the city center of Cairo, Egypt.

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Cairo, Egypt, has been a major city for a thousand years and should continue in the top 10 in population in 2030 with a possible 24,502,000 people living there.

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New York, New York–Newark, New Jersey, United States: 18,604,000

Crowded Midtown Street, NY, NY
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Demographers anticipate the metropolitan statistical area of New York, New York, and Newark, New Jersey, to keep growing to 19,885,000, but that growth could be slow enough by comparison to fast-growing areas to knock it out of the world's top 10 by 2030. 

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Dhaka, Bangladesh: 18,237,000

Busy rickshaw traffic on a street crossing in Dhaka, Bangladesh
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Bangladesh is among the top 10 countries in the world in population; Dhaka could move up to No. 6 by 2030, with an anticipated population of 27,374,000.

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Karachi, Pakistan: 17,121,000

An overloaded bus is running over the I. I. Chundrigar Road
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Pakistan is also among the world's top 10 most populous countries, and Karachi is predicted to grow to become the No. 7 city in 2030 with a population of 24,838,000. Pakistan may also add Lahore to the top 30 list in 2030, with that city expecting to grow to 13 million.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina: 15,334,000

Caminito street Images 

Demographers project Buenos Aires, Argentina, to keep growing, hitting 16,956,000 in 2030, but it'll be slower than the fastest-growing cities in the world and lose some ground on the list (to No. 18).

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Kolkata, India: 14,980,000

India, West Bengal, Kolkata, Nakhoda mosque
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As one of the top two in population in the world (and expected to surpass China at the No. 1 position by 2025), India's cities, of course, are growing. Kolkata's 2030 projection is 19,092,000 people.

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Istanbul, Turkey: 14,365,000

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Turkey has a slightly lower-than-replacement fertility (2.02 and 1.88 by 2030), but Istanbul is still expected to grow to 16,694,000 by 2030. Replacement fertility is 2.1 births per woman.

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Chongqing, China: 13,744,000

Passengers waiting for the cable car for crossing Yangtze river

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China has six locations on the largest cities list, and UN number-crunchers expect Chongqing to grow to 17,380,000 by 2030.

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Lagos, Nigeria: 13,661,000

Nigerian Schoolgirls Before Class
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Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world and expected to surpass the United States in population by 2050. Lagos, it is thought, will move up to No. 9 on the most-populous cities list in 2030 with 24,239,000 people living there.

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Manila, Philippines: 13,131,000

Roxas Blvd Manila Bay, Philippines
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The Philippines was No. 13 on the world population list in 2017, and its capital should remain in the middle of the populous cities pack with a forecast population of 16,756,000 in 2030.

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Guangzhou, Guangdong, China: 13,070,000

Guangzhou, China

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The UN expects China's population to remain stable until 2030 before it starts to drop, but Guangzhou's future has growth in it, to 17,574,000 people.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 12,981,000

Brazilian flag and Corcovado
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The second of two Brazilian entries on the list, Rio likely remains on the world's most populous list in 2030 but grows only to 14,174,000.

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Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana, United States: 12,317,000

A 1936 art deco ocean liner now permanently docked at Long Beach harbor.
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The Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area might not be anticipated to grow quickly, but it should still reach about 13,257,000 in 2030.

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Moscow, Russia: 12,1260,000

St Basil's Cathedral, in Red Square, Moscow, Russia

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The UN demographers think that Moscow, Russia, will just fall off the top 30 list of most populous, coming in at No. 31 with 12,200,000 people.

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Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: 12,071,000

Market Stall, Kinshasa
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Twenty-two countries in the world have high fertility, one of them being the Congo. Capital city Kinshasa is expected to achieve 19,996,000 in population and rise to No. 12 of the most populous cities in the world.

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Tianjin, China: 11,558,000

The Cityscape of Tianjin Eye and Tianjin Urban Skyline at night
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UN demographers still see growth for all the cities of China already on the list, with Tianjin in 2030 calculated to have 14,655,000 people.

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Paris, France: 10,925,000

View of Eiffel Tower with back view of young woman standing in the foreground
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The Western cultural center of Paris, France, may still be growing (projected 11,803,000 in 2030), but it won't be fast enough to stay in the top 30 cities, possibly falling to No. 33.

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Shenzhen, China: 10,828,000

Aerial view of Chinese city, Shenzhen
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It looks like the city of Shenzhen, China remains among the world's 30 most populated in 2030, coming in with 12,673,000 residents and hanging on at No. 29. 

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Jakarta, Indonesia: 10,483,000

Crowded Street In Indonesia

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More than half of the world's population growth between 2017 and 2050 is estimated to happen in just nine countries, Indonesia among them. Indonesia's capital is expected to grow to 13,812,000 by 2030.

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Bangalore, India: 10,456,000

City flower market
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One of three Indian cities forecast to move up in rank by 2030 ( to No. 21), Bangalore could grow to 14,762,000 residents.

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London, United Kingdom: 10,434,000

UK, London, Phone booth with Westminster Abbey behind
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Another European city expected to fall out of the top 30 cities to No. 36, London still expects growth, albeit slow, to 11,467,000 in 2030.

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Chennai (Madras), India: 10,163,000

Bharatanatyam Dance, Mylapore, Chennai
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Chennai won't be staying at the bottom of the list in 2030. The UN projects an increase to 13,921,000 and thus No. 24 on the biggest cities list.