30 Largest Cities in the World

Boy pointing at globe

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The world's largest urban area, Tokyo (37.4 million), has almost the same population as the entire country of Canada (37.6 million). 

The 2018 data on the 30 largest cities of the world, 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 megacities will look like in the​ ​future, the UN has also projected their population for the year 2030. The UN's list from 2018 lists 33 cities having a population higher than 10 million but 2030 is expected to have 43 of those. Also, in 2018, 27 of the megacities were located in the less developed regions, and by 2030, nine additional cities are estimated to be located there.

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Tokyo, Japan: 37,468,000

Crowds of people in Shibuya, Tokyo
Todd Brown/Getty Images 

The top city is expected to move down the list and with 2030's projected population of 36,574,000 become the second largest city.

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Delhi, India: 28,514,000

India, Delhi, Lotus Temple, Baha'i House of Worship
Gavin Hellier/Getty Images 

Delhi, India, is projected to gain about 10 million people by 2030 to end up with a population of about 38,939,000 and exchange places with Tokyo, becoming thus the world's first largest city.

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Shanghai, China: 25,582,000

Shanghai Urban Skyline, China
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Shanghai's estimated population of 32,869,000 in 2030 will keep it at the number three spot. 

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São Paulo, Brazil: 21,650,000

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—with the projected population of 23,824,000—is expected to move down and become only No. 9 on the world's list of most populous cities.

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Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City), Mexico: 21,581,000

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, but only as No. 8. With 24,111,000 people, it is projected to be the largest city in the Western Hemisphere.

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Al-Quahirah (Cairo), Egypt: 20,076,000

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 to be in the top 10 in population with a possible 25,517,000 people living there, making it 2030's No. 5.

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Mumbai (Bombay), India: 19,980,000

Shoppers in alley in Mumbai, India
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Mumbai, India should move up by one place in the world's rankings in 2030, with an expected population of 24,572,000.

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Beijing, China: 19,618,000

Forbidden City from Elevated view
Todd Brown/Getty Images 

The UN Population Division forecasts Beijing, China, to rise to No. 7 on the list with 24,282,000 people in 2030. However, after that year, the country's population may start to decline, based on fertility estimates and its aging population.

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Dhaka, Bangladesh: 19,578,000

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, and Dhaka, its capital, could move up all the way to No. 4 by 2030, with an anticipated population growth of almost 9 million, bringing it up to 28,076,000 inhabitants.

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Kinki M.M.A. (Osaka), Japan: 19,281,000

Osaka Castle during sakura (cherry blossom) season
 Philippe Marion/Getty Images

Tokyo​ isn't the only Japanese city projected to drop down on the list, as the country is experiencing negative population growth. Based on the projections, Osaka's estimated number of people in 2030 is 18,658,000, bringing it as low as No. 16.

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New York, New York–Newark, New Jersey, United States: 18,819,000

Crowded Midtown Street, NY, NY
Yukinori Hasumi/Getty Images 

Demographers anticipate the metropolitan statistical area of New York City, New York—Newark, New Jersey, to grow to 19,958,000. This will be a rather slow augmentation, especially by comparison to the fast-growing areas and by 2030 it will get moved down to number 13. 

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Karachi, Pakistan: 15,400,000

An overloaded bus is running over the I. I. Chundrigar Road
 Bashir Osman's Photography/Getty Images

Pakistan is also among the world's top 10 most populous countries, and even though Karachi's population is predicted to grow by almost five million by 2030—to 20,432,000 people, it will remain in its position on the list.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina: 14,967,000

Caminito street
www.infinitahighway.com.br/Getty Images 

Demographers project Buenos Aires, Argentina, to keep growing, hitting 16,456,000 in 2030, but this growth will be slower than the fastest-growing cities in the world and Buenos Aires might lose some ground on the list (drop to No. 20).

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Chongqing, China: 14,838,000

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 19,649,000 by 2030.

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Istanbul, Turkey: 14,751,000

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Turkey has a slightly lower-than-replacement fertility (1.99 and 1.88 by 2030), but Istanbul is still expected to grow to 17,124,000 by 2030. (Replacement fertility is 2.1 births per woman.)

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Kolkata (Calcutta), India: 14,681,000

India, West Bengal, Kolkata, Nakhoda mosque
Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Getty Images 

India is one of the top two countries in population and is expected to surpass China at the No. 1 position by 2025. As one of its cities, Kolkata's 2030 population projection is 17,584,000 people.

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Manila, Philippines: 13,482,000

Roxas Blvd Manila Bay, Philippines
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The Philippines was No. 13 on the world population list in 2017, but its capital should remain in the middle of the populous cities pack with a forecast population of 16,841,000 in 2030.

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Lagos, Nigeria: 13,463,000

Nigerian Schoolgirls Before Class
James Marshall/Getty Images 

Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world and is expected to surpass the United States in population by 2050. Lagos, it is thought, will move up to No. 11 on the list in 2030 with 20,600,000 people living there.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 13,293,000

Brazilian flag and Corcovado
 Ingo Roesler/Getty Images

The second of two Brazilian entries on the list, Rio will likely remain on the world's most populous list in 2030 but since it is expected to grow only to 14,408,000, it might slide down to No. 26.

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Tianjin, China: 13,215,000

The Cityscape of Tianjin Eye and Tianjin Urban Skyline at night
 Dong Wenjie/Getty Images

UN demographers still see growth for all the cities of China already on the list, but even though Tianjin is calculated to grow to 15,745,000 people, it might become only No. 23 on the 2030 list.

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Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: 13,171,000

Market Stall, Kinshasa
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Twenty-two countries in the world have high fertility, one of them being the Congo. Its capital city Kinshasa is expected to achieve 21,914,000 in population and rise to No. 10 of the most populous cities in the world.

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Guangzhou, Guangdong, China: 12,638,000

Guangzhou, China

 Gu Heng Chn/EyeEm/Getty Images

The UN expects China's population to remain stable until 2030 when it is expected to start decreasing, but Guangzhou's future has growth in it, to 16,024,000 people by 2030.

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Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana, United States: 12,458,000

A 1936 art deco ocean liner now permanently docked at Long Beach harbor.
Allan Baxter/Getty Images 

The Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area might not be anticipated to grow quickly, but it should still reach about 13,209,000 in 2030, moving to No. 27.

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Moskva (Moscow), Russia: 12,410,000

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

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The UN demographers think that Moscow, Russia will come in at No. 28 by 2030 with 12,796,000 people.

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Shenzhen, China: 11,908,000

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 14,537,000 residents, moving up just barely to No. 24. 

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Lahore, Pakistan: 11,738,000

UK, London, Phone booth with Westminster Abbey behind
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Since 2016, Lahore, Pakistan, replaced London, England, the last European city, out of the top 30 cities. The city is expected to grow quickly to a population of 16,883,000 and move up as high as No. 18 on the 2030 list.

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Bangalore, India: 11,440,000

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 16,227,000 residents.

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Paris, France: 10,901,000

View of Eiffel Tower with back view of young woman standing in the foreground
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The Western cultural center, Paris, France, may still be growing (projected 11,710,000 in 2030), but it won't be fast enough to stay in the top 30 cities, possibly falling to No. 35.

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Bogotá, Colombia: 10,574,000

Bharatanatyam Dance, Mylapore, Chennai
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Bogotá won't be staying on the list in 2030 either. Even though the UN projects an increase to 12,343,000, it might fall just out of the first 30, to No. 31

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Jakarta, Indonesia: 10,517,000

Crowded Street In Indonesia

Herianus Herianus/EyeEm/Getty Images 

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 12,687,000 by 2030 and remain No. 30 on the list.


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Rosenberg, Matt. "30 Largest Cities in the World." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/the-largest-cities-in-the-world-4163437. Rosenberg, Matt. (2020, August 28). 30 Largest Cities in the World. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-largest-cities-in-the-world-4163437 Rosenberg, Matt. "30 Largest Cities in the World." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-largest-cities-in-the-world-4163437 (accessed June 3, 2023).