World Facts

The Fastest Growing Cities in the World

According to the United Nations, many of the world's fastest growing cities are located in Asia, and to a lesser extent, Africa.

More than half of the world’s population resides in urban areas. By 2014, approximately 53% of the world’s population was residing in towns and cities. However, there is still varying levels of urbanization in countries. The urban population has grown rapidly from 745 million in 1950 to about 4.1 billion in 2014. The number is expected to grow by another 2.4 billion by 2050. About 50% of the world’s urban dwellers reside in the relatively small settlement while about 13% live in mega-cities. Here are some of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Top Five Fastest Growing Cities

Suzhou, China

Suzhou is the fastest growing city in the world at an annual rate of change in the population of 6.3% between 2010 and 2015. It is the only city in China with more than 5 million people to have experienced such an exponential growth. Most of the cities with over 500,000 people grew at an annual rate of 2.4%. The large manufacturing sector, the second largest in China, is a contributing factor to such rapid growth. Suzhou is also a major destination for foreign investment due to the low operating cost and relative proximity to Shanghai.

Surat, India

With an annual rate of change of 4.8% between 2010 and 2015, Surat is the second fastest growing city in the world. The city has a population of approximately 4.5 million people. The diamond city is the administrative capital of Surat District and is located approximately 176 miles south of Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarati. The growth is attributed to the economy of the city which ranks 10th in India. Surat is also a smart IT city with several SME Domestic IT companies setting up IT hub there.

Beijing, China

Beijing is the second fastest growing city in China and the third fastest in the world with an average annual rate of change of 4.6%. In 1990, Beijing had a population of 6.7 million people which grew to over 19 million by 2014. The population is expected to grow by another 8-9 million by 2030. The high growth rate is attributed to several factors ranging from economic to social and political factors. It is home to some of the largest state-owned companies in China and also a major transportation and educational city with 91 universities. Beijing and Hangzhou had the same average annual rate of population change of 4.6 between 20100 and 2015.

Kinshasha, DRC

Kinshasha is one of the three cities outside Asia that feature in the top 15 fastest growing cities in the world. The other two are fellow African cities; Luanda in Angola, and Lagos in Nigeria. Kinshasha recorded an average annual rate of change in the population of 4.2. The city has experienced a sharp population growth from 3 million in 1990 to 11 million in 2014. The city has several big companies such as Marsavco SARL that has contributed to the growth of the urban area.

Future Growth Projections

The urban population is expected to grow by more than two-thirds to 6.3 billion by 2050. Almost 90% of the increase is expected to take Africa and Asia. Africa’s urban population is expected to triple by mid-century while that of Asia is expected to increase by 61%. The urban population is also expected to be concentrated in a few countries with China, India, and Nigeria to account for 31%.

The Fastest Growing Cities in the World

RankCity Annual Rate of Change Between 2010 and 2015 (Percentage)
1Suzhou, China6.3
2Surat, India4.8
3Beijing, China4.6
4Hangzhou, China4.6
5Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of the Congo4.2
6Bangalore, India4.0
7Riyadh, Saudi Arabia4.0
8Luanda, Angola4.0
9Lagos, Nigeria3.9
10Chengdu, China3.8
11Dhaka, Bangladesh3.6
12Nanjing, China3.6
13Shanghai, China3.4
14Chongqing, China3.4
15Guangzhou, China3.4
16Tianjin, China3.4
17Ahmadabad, India3.4
18Karachi, Pakistan3.3
19Hyderabad, India3.3
20Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam3.3
21Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia3.3
22Delhi, India3.2
23Johannesburg, South Africa3.2
24Xi'an, China3.2
25Lahore, Pakistan3.1

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