The World's Most Populated Capital Cities

Beijing, China, is the world's most populated capital city.

By July 1st, 2017, the global population stood at approximately 7.550 billion. Exactly a year before that, the population stood at 7.466 billion. By January 2018, the global population had surpassed the 7.6 billion mark. By the end of 2016, 59.69% of the global population lived in Asian followed by Africa (16.36%), Europe (9.94%), and North America (7.79%). South America accounted for 5.68% of the world's population. Oceania accounted for 0.54% while Antarctica accounted for less than 0.1%.

China remains the world’s most populous country with an estimated population of 1.41 billion as of January 2018, while India comes in a close second with 1.35 billion. Both counties account for 19% and 18% of the global population respectively. However, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimate that by 2024 India would be the world’s most populous if the current trends in birth rate continuous in the country. Between 2010 and 2017 China experienced an annual population increase of +0.4% annually while India experienced an increase of 1.1% annually. More than half (54 percent) of the global population resides in an urban environment. Urbanization of the rural environment and migration to urban areas are the reason why 66% of the population will be residing in an urban environment by 2050.

The World's Most Populated Capital Cities


China's capital, Beijing, is the world's most populous capital city and the second most populous city proper after Tokyo, Japan. As of January 2018, the city's population stood at an estimated 21.7 million. Shanghai remains China’s most populated city with an urban population of 24.18 million while Guangzhou is China’s largest metropolitan with a population of 44.5 million. However, in 2017 Beijing and Shanghai both experienced a decline in their population by 0.1%.

New Delhi

India’s capital New Delhi ranks second most populous capital city with an estimated urban population of 18.6 million as at January 2018. Mumbai remains India most populous city with a population of 22 million. The city is expanding rapidly as the nearly metropolitans are sucked into urban environments. In 2011 the city had a population of 16.75 million; in five years, the city’s population rose 2.1 million.


Tokyo is the world’s largest city proper with a population of about 38 million people. However, its urban population is 13.6 million, making it the third most populous capital city. Japan is among the few countries in the world where the population experiences a very slight growth and at times the population declines. Between 1965 and 2017 the urban population increased from 10.85 to 13.6. The effect of a slow population increase is witnessed in the country's demographic composition where the elderly (65 and above) make up a quarter of the country’s population.


Manila in the Philippines is the 4th most populous capital city in the world. It is the Philippines' capital and largest city with a metro population of 13 million as at 2018. A 2015 census indicated that the city had a population of 12.8 million. It is the world’s most congested city with a density of 111,002 square miles.


The capital city of Russia, Moscow, is the world's 5th most populous capital city with an urban population of 12.2 million. In 2011 the city had a population of 11.5 million, a growth of 700,000 in six years. Between 1965 and 2017 the population doubled from 6.5 million to 13 million, growing at an annual rate of 1.3% annually. It is Europe’s most populated capital city and second most populous city after Istanbul.


Egypt’s capital Cairo is Africa’s most populous capital city with a population of 12 million as at 2018. It is also the largest metropolitan in the Arab world and the middle east. A majority of 98 million Egyptians live along the Nile river due to the country’s arid environment. The country is highly urbanized as the government encourages its citizens to move to urban environments to access better amenities such as water, healthcare, education, and infrastructure.


Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital and largest city. It has an urban population of 10.5 million. The greater metropolitan comprises of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi and has a population of about 31.5 million. It is the second largest urban population in the world after Tokyo. Urbanization steered an improving economy and migration is driving people towards urban centers with Jakarta bearing the brunt due to its economic status.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is among the countries with the largest population growth in the world. It is estimated that the country experiences a population growth of 3.3% annually. As at 2018, the country had a population of 82 million people. Its capital Kinshasa is no different, as it is home to between 10.5 and 12 million people. The exact number cannot be determined, but the UN estimates that up to 400,000 people find their way to the city every year escaping the war and poverty ravaging across rural DRC.


The capital of South Korea, Seoul, has a population of 10.3 million. It is the largest metropolis in the country and the 4th most economically powerful city in the world. The city’s metropolitan has a population of about 25.6 million.


Dhaka is Bangladesh’s capital and largest city. It has a city population of 9 million and a metropolitan population of over 18 million.

Problems Faced by Populated Cities

Populated cities sometimes face similar problems like traffic congestion, lack of social amenities, air and sound pollution and congestion. Access to affordable housing can also often be a problem.

The World's Most Populated Capital Cities

RankCityCountryPopulation (Millions)
2New DelhiIndia16.8
8KinshasaDemocratic Republic of the Congo10.2
9SeoulSouth Korea9.9

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