10 Largest Cities In The World

The world's population currently teeters at eight billion people. That is a lot of humans milling about, trying to make a go at this crazy little thing called life. And within this stupendous, sentient sea, there are many megacities that offer community, opportunity, and identity. The following is a list of the ten largest metropolitans (in terms of the estimated 2022 population). At first glance, they can appear overwhelming. But each of these concrete organisms can provide a lifetime of subtle sifting that slowly reveals new treasures with each street, canal, market, monument, etc. You just have to dive in. 

1. Tokyo, Japan - 37,274,000

Tokyo, Japan
Aerial view of busy streets of Tokyo on a regular weekday.

Far and away, the world's most-populated metropolitan, Tokyo, Japan, has a life of its own. The nation's capital city is located on the East-Central coast of the island of Honshu, within the Kantō region. This fast-paced yet humble; crowded yet clean; futuristic yet steeped in spiritual tradition; two-time host of the Summer Olympics has to be seen to be believed. In one moment, you may be standing in Shibuya Crossing (one of the world's wildest intersections), and the next, you may be dining in a quiet, old-school, four-stooltop restaurant down a slim and ancient alley. In the next moment, you may find yourself appreciating one of the many Buddhist shrines scattered throughout the city before turning the corner and entering into a sensory overload of neon lights and brightly-colored business signs. Where else but Tokyo? 

2. Delhi, India - 32,065,760

Delhi, India
India Gate in Delhi in the distance is a major landmark of this ever-busy city. Editorial credit: Amit kg / Shutterstock.com

Delhi, in Northcentral India, is the National Capital Territory and the country's largest city (by population). This urban agglomeration is composed of two main parts: the historic city of Old Delhi (in the North) and the capital city of New Delhi (in the South). With that said, Delhi reveals its many additional layers, built upon themselves over time, in the form of ancient monuments, mosques, shrines, tombs, and other varieties of stimulating architecture. This giant community is situated along the Yamuna River (which feeds into the Ganges) and approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) South of the grand Himalayan Mountains. Aside from being the political anchor of India, Delhi is also a substantial commercial, transportation, and cultural hotspot.  

3. Shanghai, China - 28,516,904

Shanghai china
Locals and tourists at a busy marketplace in Shanghai, China. Editorial credit: LMspencer / Shutterstock.com

Shanghai (上海), or Shàng-Hǎi, is the most populous city in the world's most populous country. This vital seaport is located in East-Central China, on the coast of the East China Sea, on the South shore of the Yangtze River. Shanghai was one of the first areas to receive Western trade ships, which helped it grow into the commercial and industrial backbone of the nation that it is today. The picturesque metropolis skyline is immediately recognizable and perfectly blends a mix of the old and the new (in a similar fashion to the street-level culture of the city). 

4. Dhaka, Bangladesh - 22,478,116

Aerial view of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka (or Dacca), is situated in the country's central region alongside the Buriganga River. Dhaka is part of the Dhaka Division and the Dhaka District. Like Mumbai, the population density of this city has it nearly bursting at the seams, and yet, the rapidly growing metropolitan shows no signs of slowing. This creates a fascinating, high-energy environment but also poor living conditions for many residents, heavy traffic for all, and an overall challenge of sustainability for the government. Dhaka is also supremely industrialized, which plays a key role in the skyrocketing population growth and the daily tidal wave of commuters.  

5. São Paulo, Brazil - 22,429,800

Sao Paulo, Brazil
Amazing Skyline of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Shifting down to South America, São Paulo (or "Sampa" as it is also called), Brazil takes the crown as the largest city on the continent. This juggernaut is located in the Southeast, in the state of São Paulo, just inland from the port of Santos on the South Atlantic Ocean. São Paulo is also about 450 kilometers (280 miles) Southwest of the iconic city of Rio de Janeiro. Sampa emerged from its neighbor's shadow during the late 19th-century coffee boom. Nowadays, a sea of skyscrapers signals São Paulo's emergence as the major economic center of Latin America, which is responsible for its rocketing population growth. 

6. Mexico City, Mexico - 22,085,140

Mexico City
People visiting the Palacio De Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

Mexico City (Ciudad de México) is the capital city of Mexico, the most populous megacity in North America, and one of the oldest continuously-inhabited capital cities in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico City was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1521 (atop the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán), in the Valley of Mexico, in the South-Central part of the country. Sitting at an elevation of 2,240 meters (7,350 feet), this colorful, rambunctious (yet surprisingly peaceful in parts), artistic, and historical place will literally and figuratively take your breath away. 

7. Cairo, Egypt - 21,750,020

Cairo , egypt
Cairo cityscape taken during the sunset from the famous Cairo Tower in Cairo, Egypt.

Cairo (​​Al-Qāhirah) is the capital city of Egypt and the largest metropolitan in Africa. Cairo is located in the Northeast of the country, along the shores of the famed Nile River, and just North of the Great Pyramids of Giza, which can be seen in the distance, contrasted against the infinite layers of modern infrastructure. Cairo readily celebrates its antiquity, displaying the world's largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (EMC).  

8. Beijing, China - 21,333,332

Beijing, China
Heavy traffic flow in Beijing, China.

Beijing (北京), Pei-ching, or Peking, is the capital city of the People's Republic of China. It is located in the Eastern part of the country, near the Bohai Wan and the mouth of the Yellow Sea. Beijing has been the cultural and administrative center of China for (nearly) eight centuries, despite some renaming over the years and a brief changing of the guard from 1928-1949. And even with that long history, which can be felt and seen in nearly every nook and cranny, Beijing is still one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. On top of such attractions as the Great Wall of China, the culinary experience is another big draw - everything from the universally delectable to Fear-Factor-worthy experimental dishes

9. Mumbai, India - 20,961,472

Mumbai, India
Bird's eye view of the busy city of Mumbai and its famous railway station, also a heritage building.

On India's West coast, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) sprawls along a peninsula on Bombay Island - stretching out into Bombay Harbour and the Arabian Sea. Mumbai is the capital city of the state of Maharashtra and is the major entertainment, financial, and commercial hub (namely, cotton textiles and information technology) of India. "The City of Dreams" is the second-largest metropolitan of the world's second most populated country, but because of the geographical constraints of being located on a peninsula, it is one of the most densely-populated cities in the world. 

10. Osaka, Japan - 19,059,856

Osaka, Japan
The Osaka Palace in Osaka.

In the South of Japan, on the island of Honshu, in the region of Kansai and the Osaka Prefecture, the bright and lively metropolitan of Osaka looms large. Between the vigorous economic engine that keeps businesses hustling all day and the tourist-drawing nightlife, Osaka knows how to burn the candle at both ends (especially on Karaoke night). Food is another celebrated asset of the city - not just sushi but all kinds of local cuisines. Osaka, formerly Naniwa, was Japan's first known capital city. It is still easy to see why this spot is a natural focal point of the country. 

These incredibly dense metropolitans are a must-see for any adventurous extrovert. Let the beeping horns and endless chatter be your soundtrack, the umpteen-dimensional layers be your backdrop, and the infinite supply of strangers be your social refuge. 

50 Biggest Cities In The World

Rank Name Country Population
1 Tokyo Japan 37,274,000
2 Delhi India 32,065,760
3 Shanghai China 28,516,904
4 Dhaka Bangladesh 22,478,116
5 Sao Paulo Brazil 22,429,800
6 Mexico City Mexico 22,085,140
7 Cairo Egypt 21,750,020
8 Beijing China 21,333,332
9 Mumbai India 20,961,472
10 Osaka Japan 19,059,856
11 Chongqing China 16,874,740
12 Karachi Pakistan 16,839,950
13 Istanbul Turkey 15,636,243
14 Kinshasa DR Congo 15,628,085
15 Lagos Nigeria 15,387,639
16 Buenos Aires Argentina 15,369,919
17 Kolkata India 15,133,888
18 Manila Philippines 14,406,059
19 Tianjin China 14,011,828
20 Guangzhou China 13,964,637
21 Rio De Janeiro Brazil 13,634,274
22 Lahore Pakistan 13,541,764
23 Bangalore India 13,193,035
24 Shenzhen China 12,831,330
25 Moscow Russia 12,640,818
26 Chennai India 11,503,293
27 Bogota Colombia 11,344,312
28 Paris France 11,142,303
29 Jakarta Indonesia 11,074,811
30 Lima Peru 11,044,607
31 Bangkok Thailand 10,899,698
32 Hyderabad India 10,534,418
33 Seoul South Korea 9,975,709
34 Nagoya Japan 9,571,596
35 London United Kingdom 9,540,576
36 Chengdu China 9,478,521
37 Nanjing China 9,429,381
38 Tehran Iran 9,381,546
39 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam 9,077,158
40 Luanda Angola 8,952,496
41 New York City United States 8,930,002
42 Wuhan China 8,591,611
43 Xi An Shaanxi China 8,537,646
44 Ahmedabad India 8,450,228
45 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 8,419,566
46 Hangzhou China 8,044,878
47 Surat India 7,784,276
48 Suzhou China 7,764,499
49 Hong Kong Hong Kong 7,643,256
50 Riyadh Saudi Arabia 7,538,200
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