Discover the 10 Largest Cities in the World

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: July 7, 2023
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There are currently almost 200 recognized countries in the world, with each country having hundreds of cities and hundreds of thousands of people scattered across these cities. Determining what cities are the largest is determined by land size or population. This article will focus on land size

Picture graph of the 10 Largest Cities in the World by Land Area
Five of these ten cities are in Tibet, which is now an autonomous region of China.

Because different nations have different definitions for the term “city,” it may be difficult to establish a standard measurement for the largest cities by area. In addition, because cities continue to expand by acquiring more land, the size of a city may not always be the same.

That said, it is essential to keep in mind that the largest cities in the world right now could always change as they have over the years. Let us take a look at 10 of the largest cities in the world by land area.

10. Shannan – 30,772 square miles


Shannan is home to scenic views, mountains, and natural geological features like lakes and caves.

©Laika ac from UK / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

The city of Shannan, which is in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, has a total land area of 30,772 square miles, an average elevation of roughly 3600 meters, and a population of 320,000 people. The city is also known as Lhoka and is regarded as the birthplace of the Tibetan people and Tibetan culture. Because of how old this city is and the history it possesses, it contains many unusual and interesting historical monuments.

The city is also home to scenic views, mountains, and natural geological features like lakes and caves. Because of these features, the city is a popular tourist attraction. It has a lot of places to visit, particularly for tourists that are interested in the history of the area and the Tibetan people. Some of the top tourist attractions include the Samye Monastery, the Yungbulakang Palace, and Potala Palace.

9. Chongqing – 31,815 square miles


Chongqing is a city in China with a population of over 30 million inhabitants.

©Fabio Nodari/

With a land area of 31,815 square miles, Chongqing is a city in China with a population of over 30 million inhabitants. Chongqing has a lengthy history, and historical data indicates that the area was first a Ba People state that was founded in the 11th century B.C.E. The city was given the name Chongqing meaning “Double-Blessed,” in 1189 while under the southern Nan Song dynasty that lasted between 1127 and 1279 CE.

In 1891, Chongqing became an important economic center in China as it became the first inland open to trade from outside China. The city was given the title of capital of Nationalist China during the Sino-Japanes war between 1937 and 1945. In addition to being a historical and cultural hub for China, the city is renowned for being a significant economic hub along the Yangtze River. Today Chongqing is one of the most important economic centers in western China, with a diversified economy in automobile manufacturing, electronics, textiles, etc.

8. Kalgoorlie-Boujlder – 36,902 square miles


Kalgoorlie-Boujlder is well-known for its architectural grandeur and rich culture.


Covering an area of 36,902 square miles, Kalgoorlie-Boujlder is a city located in south-central Western Australia. In 1893, the area became famous for its gold discovery, and this gold rush of the 1890s caused an increase in the area’s population and the country’s economy. Apart from its mining prowess, the city is also well-known for its architectural grandeur and rich culture, attracting tourists from various parts of the world.

7. Chamdo – 42,530.7 square miles

Chamdo Mekong

Chamdo is one of the oldest regions ever inhabited by the Tibetan people.

©Jaryiahr Khan / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Chamdo, also known as Qamdo officially and Chengdu in Chinese, is a city located in the eastern portion of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. The city covers an area of 42,530.7 square miles and is also one of the oldest regions ever inhabited by the Tibet people. Because of how deeply the history of the Tibetan people has influenced the region, there are numerous historic monasteries, murals, and sculptures that have been preserved in the name of a particular form of Buddhism practiced by the Tibetans ages ago, making the city the ideal destination for those who want to learn more about this culture.

6. Nyingchi – 44,855.4 square miles

Nyingchi city June 2019

Nyingchi has a relatively sparse population with just a little over 200,000 inhabitants.

©LinasD / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

China’s Nyingchi, also spelled Linzhi and Nyingtri, is a prefecture-level city that covers a total land area of 44,855.4 square miles and sits at an estimated elevation of 9,974 feet (3,040 meters). Like most other cities with large land areas, Nyingchi has a sparse population, with just a little over 200,000 inhabitants. Although there are people from other ethnic groups inhabiting the city, it has always been fundamentally occupied by Tibetans, making the city one of the most significant cradles of old Tibetan civilization. Even the name is a reflection of the Tibetan influence. Nyingchi is a Tibetan word that means “the Grand Seat of the Sun.” The city is beautiful and calming, particularly because of the crystal pure water and green mountains.

5. Altamira – 61,596 square miles

Altamira Pará

The main source of Altamira’s economy is trade and agriculture.

©Igor Cavallini / CC BY 3.0 – License

With a land area of 61,596 square miles, Altamira is one of the largest cities by area in Brazil. The city, which is located on the banks of the Xingu River, has more than 100,000 residents. The main sources of the city’s economy and growth are trade and agriculture. The city’s name was originally Tavaquara, which was then changed to Souzel before getting its current name.

4. Shigatse – 70,271 square miles


Shigatse has tremendous historical significance for the Tibetan people.

©Yury Birukov/

Shigatse, or Xigazê as it is known officially, is a prefecture-level city located in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It has a total area of 70,271 square miles. The city’s name roughly translates to “the fertile land” and is about 171 miles from Lhasa. The city has tremendous historical significance for Tibet and has served as a traditional seat for one of the most important spiritual leaders for more than six centuries.

Shigatse has grown to be one of Tibet’s most alluring tourist attractions as a result of its rich cultural heritage, spectacular monasteries, stunning natural surroundings, and advantageous geographic location. Also, there is access to Mount Everest from the city, drawing even more tourists.

3. Jiuquan – 73,878 square miles


Due to Jiuquan’s historical significance, the region is home to numerous historical artifacts.

©terryzhang虎子 / CC BY 3.0 – License

Jiuquan, formerly called Suzhou, is a prefecture-level city located in Gansu Province in the People’s Republic of China’s northwest. The city sits in an area of 73,878 square miles, with over 24 million inhabitants. Jiuquan was first called Fulu, a small town established and founded in 111 BC before it was called Suzhou, and then finally Jiuquan, which means “wine springs.” The town was situated on the former Silk Road and was established first as a military outpost. The discovery of significant iron-ore reserves in the late 1950s marked the start of Jiuquan’s contemporary growth. Due to Jiuquan’s significant historical significance, the region is home to numerous historical artifacts, making it a spot for frequent tourists.

2. Hulunbuir – 101,913 square miles


Hulunbuir was named after the Hulun and Buir lakes; the area has grasslands, forests, rivers, and lakes.


Hulunbuir is a prefecture-level city in northeastern Inner Mongolia, China, covering an area of 101,913 square miles, with over 2.5 million inhabitants. The city is one of the four largest grasslands in the world and the largest grassland in China. Other major highlights of the city include lakes and horse ranges. Hulunbuir was not always a part of Inner Mongolia; it was not annexed until after the communist revolution of 1949.

The city is home to several ethnic groups, further diversifying the people, language, and culture. The city’s grasslands are the primary reason for most of its tourist visits. The city was named after the Hulun and Buir lakes, and its grasslands feature diverse forests, rivers, and lakes. Along with the scenery, the area offers a variety of other activities, such as horseback riding, camel riding, wrestling, and horse racing.

1. Nagqu – 173, 953 square miles


Nagqu is the largest city by land area in the world.


Nagqu is a prefecture-level city in northern Tibet with a land area of 173,953 square miles. Nagqu was formerly referred to as “Heihe,” which is a Tibetan word meaning “black river.” Under the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city was called “Hala Wusu,” which meant the same thing but in Mongolian. With a population of almost half a million, the city is blessed with water resources and covers many of Tibet’s lakes. It is also the largest region of Tibet, making up more than 47% of the total area, and has become one of the region’s most significant political and economic hubs. It is well known for trading and exporting various goods, including agricultural and animal products.

Summary of the 10 Largest Cities in the World by Land Area

Rank by SizeName of CityCountryArea in Square Miles
2.HulunbuirMongolian China101,913
3.JiuquanChina, Gansu Province73,878
8.KalgoorlieSouth Central Australia36,902
9.ChongqingWestern China31,815

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fabio Nodari/

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