More and more people are moving from the country to the city. This so-called urbanisation isn’t just taking place here in the UK, but across the entire world, and it’s even meant that now more people live in cities than rural areas. As a result, cities keep growing and growing and more living space is needed. In Asian countries in particular city, populations seem to explode. When we think of mega-cities like Tokyo, Beijing or Mexico City, where more than 20 million people live, we can hardly imagine what life there must be like! So, I’d like to tell you a little more about the largest cities in the world. Each and every one is worth a visit!
I’m sure you all know Tokyo, Japan’s capital. But did you know that Tokyo-Yokohama is the largest metropolitan region in the world? ‘Only’ 10 million people live in the city of Tokio itself, but when you put Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki and Saitama together, a region which encompasses an area of just 14,000km², you’re looking at a population of almost 38 million! In comparison: Lusatia, a region that straddles the border between Germany and Poland, is almost the same size with an area of 13,000km², but it’s home to only 1.3 million people. As you’d expect, living space is so cramped in Tokyo-Yokohama that people have to live in tiny apartments or live together with their families their whole life in the smallest spaces. Rent is astronomical. The high density of inhabitants is reflected in the traffic – it’s not uncommon to see eight-lane traffic jams piling up for hours at a time. In order to buy a car you need to be able to prove that you own a parking space, which can cost up to nearly £300 a month. Space is definitely one thing that’s lacking here!
No. 2: Delhi, India
If you think about the largest cities in the world, many people will think about India – and not without reason! There are currently around 25 million people living in the region of Delhi, which also includes the Indian capital New Delhi. 19% of the inhabitants live in the city’s slums, which for many tourists look like an impenetrable chaos. The constant honking of cars on the streets is just another part of day-to-day life here as drivers will often be stuck in queues for hours, just like in Tokyo. Though the difference here is that the traffic is a lot more chaotic and dangerous – in Delhi there’s a fatal car accident almost every 4 minutes.
No. 3: Seoul, South Korea
When it comes to the largest cities in the world, Asia is pretty much unbeaten, hence why our next city is also in the Far East. More than 25 million people live in the South Korean city of Seoul and the surrounding cities, almost 50% of the country’s total population! As a result Seoul, or rather Sudogwon as the metropolitan area is known, is one of the most densely populated regions in the entire world. When people began to flock to the cities in the 1960s many buildings were built illegally as there weren’t enough homes and a quick solution was needed. Today the city is still growing due to the government constructing more high-rise apartments in the suburbs. Even these are still sorely needed as it’s predicted that more people still want to move to the capital!
No. 4: Beijing, China
You were probably wondering when China would come up in this list of the largest cities in the world. While the cities that I’ve already listed owe their size to the surrounding cities and suburbs, Beijing is in a class all of its own. The capital is home to 21 million people, which makes Beijing the largest city in the world. However for the Chinese, who seem to love their superlatives, this still isn’t big enough: from 2017 Beijing will combine with the surrounding province to create the metropolis of Jing-Jin-Ji (or JJJ for short), which means that the combined populations here will come to a whopping 130 million people! To make this project a reality the administrative boundaries will be expanded, thus making it the largest metropolitan region in the world.
No. 5: New York, USA
A very famous mega-city is New York. This popular travel destination is the eighth-largest city in the world with a population of 20 million. If you’ve already been in the tri-state area you’ll know the gargantuan proportions that await. Many holidaymakers speak of the never-ending mish-mash of sirens and car horns that you’ll hear every day and doesn’t even get quieter at night. No wonder they call it the city that never sleeps! The city enjoys the reputation of the world’s most important trading centre, which means that alongside the touristy sights you’ll find the central offices to some of the worlds most powerful corporations and organisations as well. New York is a real centre of economic power and it’s something you can feel when you’re in the city. It’s not surprising then that rents in some parts of the city are practically impossible to pay!
No. 6: Mexico City, Mexico
We’re staying on the American continent for now to take a closer look at Mexico City. The Mexican capital has plenty of cultural things on offer thanks to its long history – it was founded in 1325 by the Aztecs under the name Tenochtitlan. Even back then the city was one of the largest in the world with its population of 100,000 people. The living conditions of the 20 million people who live there now couldn’t be any more different because while rich politicians and gentry live in the south, the east is home to the poorest communes in the whole of Mexico. Even today serious infectious diseases still break out and many people are unemployed. Unfortunately, these people were unable to fulfil their dream of a better life in the city.
No. 7: Moscow, Russia
Europe has some of the largest cities in the world of its own, of course. The largest metropolitan area on our continent is in the European half of Russia – more specifically in Moscow. 16 million people live in the capital of the largest country in the world, twice the amount of people living in London. However, the number of people living in Moscow could be a lot bigger, as that 16 million only counts the number of registered citizens. Many people live illegally in the city and aren’t counted in the official census. Moscow is famous above all for the Red Square and the Kremlin, which made it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Living standards are so high that Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. This is reflected primarily in living costs, which have skyrocketed since the 1990s. As a result, Moscow has become a focal point for rich Russians and foreigners.
No. 8: Cairo, Egypt
The next city on the list of the largest cities in the world is known as the juggernaut of the Arabic world. According to estimations Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is home to 15 million inhabitants. In case you’re wondering why the population can only be guessed, I’ll tell you the reason why – in Egypt, it’s not mandatory to register with the authorities, so we can only know how many people live in the region through predictions and projections. Unlike other capitals in the world, rents have stayed comparatively low, even staying at the same rates as they were in the 1950s. Despite that though many people in Cairo don’t own a proper apartment and live in the largest slum in the world, Imbaba. Meanwhile, there are both old and new flats that remain vacant due to the corrupt nature of the system that’s used to rent out properties – due to the fact that the government places a cap on rent many landlords demand an illegal extra payment before new tenants move in. For many people in Cairo, a secure place to live is something they will simply never be able to afford.
If you’re in Egypt you should definitely visit this mega-city though, as the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its beautiful Islamic architecture.
No. 9: Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a diverse and fascinating city that many tourists find irresistible, so it’s not surprising that the largest city in Turkey is one of the most visited cities in the world. A trip to Istanbul is like a mini trip around the world in itself – from Greco-Roman antiquity and Byzantium to the modern high-rise apartments that are home to 13 million, you’ll also find famous sights such as the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. The population has skyrocketed in the past few years which has resulted in illegal settlements arising on the city’s outskirts housing very poor and unemployed immigrants.
No. 10: London, UK
I just had to put London somewhere on the list of the largest cities in the world! Our capital is the largest city in the European Union, with over 8 million people living within the city limits, but if you extend it to the Greater London Metropolitan area a whopping 13,879,757 people live there! London is incredibly important and prominent city, with a huge financial centre, a flourishing media, arts and fashion scene and over 40 universities. However tourism is also a huge industry (arguably the largest after finance) – London is the most visited city in the world, with a record 34 million tourists coming to the city in 2014 alone! London also has the busiest airport network in the world, with 6 airports catering for over 140 million passengers. As a result, London is a highly affluent city and it’s growing at an unprecedented rate with new skyscrapers constantly being built along the banks of the Thames, each one flashier than the last.
If you’d like to visit one of these mega-cities for yourself, just take a look at my blog for some amazing bargains. Check out some of my other city articles below, too…
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