Discover the 10 Most Populated Cities in the World

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: April 17, 2023
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Recently, the world hit the eight billion population mark. Based on extensive research, it has been concluded that more than half of the world’s population lives in cities across the globe. Because certain regions are more populated than others, many of the most populated cities are either within the same country or continent. This article lists 10 of the most populated cities in the world.

10. Osaka, Japan – 19,000,000

Osaka has a population of 19 million inhabitants.

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The 10th most populated city in the world is a city called Osaka in Japan, Asia. The city has an estimated population of 19 million citizens and is located in the Kansai region of Japan, which is popularly called the cultural heart of the country. The core region of the city, which consists of 24 wards, is split into Kita to the north and Minami to the south. While Minami is well-known for its arts and fashion, Kita is thought of as the center of the city’s commerce and retail. The bay area is on the west side, while residential neighborhoods make up most of the east side.

Over 1400 years ago, Osaka began to develop a thriving culture. Osaka was the commercial and political hub of Japan from as early as the fifth century, primarily because it provided traders and travelers with access to the sea and river routes. Through what is now Osaka’s port, tourists from all across Asia could easily visit the city. Today, Osaka has a flourishing economy. Also, it is fast becoming a popular tourist destination because of its historical landmarks, diverse cuisine, and many more activities.

9. Mumbai, India – 20,961,472

Mumbai, India
Mumbai is the most populous city in India.

©iStock.com/Sanjog Mhatre

Currently the ninth most populated city in the world, Mumbai in India is home to almost 21 million people. Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra state in southwestern India. Mumbai, the most populous city in India, is situated on the coast of Maharashtra and is one of the biggest and most densely populated urban centers in the world. It was constructed on the site of a village, and it was given its name after Mumba, the local deity, whose temple was originally located in the city’s southeast.

The city’s initial economy was based on cotton textiles, but it gradually transformed into a highly diversified manufacturing sector. The city currently serves as the country’s financial hub with the strongest and most prestigious financial institutions. The Fort neighborhood in the city’s southernmost region houses the financial district. The city of Mumbai is also one of the prettiest in the country.

8. Beijing, China – 21,333,332

Beijing, China cityscape at the CBD.
Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the world with a rich history spanning more than three millennia.

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On this list, the eighth most populated city in the world is also located in Asia – Beijing, China. The city has a total population of over 21.3 million. Formerly known as Peking, the city is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the world with a rich history spanning more than three millennia, blending both contemporary and traditional-style architecture. For the majority of the last eight centuries, Beijing has also served as the nation’s political hub. The city’s population did not just start growing. In fact, during most of the second millennium CE, Beijing was the world’s most populous city.

Because of its historical and architectural prowess, as well as other aspects, the city of Beijing is considered one of the most important tourist spots in the world. The city is home to several monuments, museums, and even seven different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all of which make for incredible tourist destinations.

7. Cairo, Egypt – 21,750,020

Cairo has a population of 21.7 million people.

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Cairo is the largest city in Egypt and the country’s capital. With a new peak population of 21.7 million inhabitants, the city is the seventh most populated in the world. The city is located not too far from the Nile Delta. Cairo also has an extensive history that dates back to 969 CE, combining both ancient and new-world Egypt. In 969 AD, the city was formally established, but it has a longer history than a thousand years.

Cairo is also the largest city in Africa and the Middle East, and it is frequently referred to as the “center of civilization” since it is situated at the intersection of roads leading to Asia, Europe, and Africa. Because of its historical significance to both Egyptian history and the general history of the world, many tourists troop into the city of Cairo yearly, making it one of the most visited tourist locations in Africa.

6. Mexico City, Mexico – 22,085,140

Mexico
Mexico City is the oldest capital city in all of the Americas.

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The current population of Mexico City is over 22 million, making it the sixth most populated city in the world and the first in North America. The city is the capital of Mexico, and its history runs deep as the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. The oldest capital city in the Americas, Mexico City, as we know it now, is home to a sizable immigrant population from all over the Americas, Africa, and even Asia. It is bordered by mountains and volcanoes that reach heights of over 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) and has a minimum elevation of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet).

5. São Paulo, Brazil  – 22,429,800

SĂŁo Paulo is the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world.

©iStock.com/Alexandre Siqueira

On this list of the world’s most populous cities, São Paulo, Brazil, comes in at number five with a population of 22.4 million. The city is also the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world. Paulistanos, the locals of So Paulo, are among the most ethnically varied in the nation. Brazilian slavery came to an end in 1850, and the city used voluntary immigrants to work its coffee plantations in place of African labor. Following this, there were also subsequent waves of Portuguese and Italian immigration from the middle of the 19th century until the start of the 20th century, this reform also resulted in the arrival of a surge of German and Swiss immigrants.

The city is still considered a city of immigrants and because of the different cultures, it is regarded as a melting pot of people of different ethnicity. Also, because of this diversity, many tourists look to visit the city to learn more about its history, experience good food, and see architectural wonders that somehow encompass the diversity that is evident in the city.

4. Dhaka, Bangladesh – 23,209,616

Dhaka is home to 23 million people.

©iStock.com/Meinzahn

Dhaka is a city with 23 million inhabitants, making it the fourth most populated city in the world. The city is also the largest in its country and the capital city. One theory about the origin of the name “Dhaka” is that it refers to the once-common dhak tree, while another theory attributes it to Dhakeshwari, also known as The Hidden Goddess, in honor of whom a shrine was constructed. Despite the region’s history dating back to the first century, evidence suggests that it wasn’t inhabited until the seventh century or so. Before the Mughals made the city the Bengali capital in 1608 after their arrival, the city was governed by Turkish and Afghan governors.

Due to the large number of mosques that have been constructed there, Dhaka is recognized across the world as the City of Mosques. With its trade and growing textile industry, the city is also regarded as the industrial and commercial hub of Bangladesh. The modern National Museum and other historical locations allow visitors to learn about Dhaka’s rich cultural past.

3. Shanghai, China – 28,516,904

Shanghai, China city skyline on the Huangpu River.
Shanghai is the third most populated city in the world.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

With a population of 28.5 million, Shanghai in China is the third most populated city in the world. Shanghai is an economic powerhouse in east central China, and it has one of the biggest seaports in the world. Shanghai, which was formerly a market and fishing village, gained prominence in the 19th century as a result of internal and international trade, as well as its convenient port location.

According to some, the city is the “showpiece” of China’s rising economy. It is home to several architectural styles, museums, and historic buildings. The city is also popular for its cuisine, drawing in tourists from all over the world, making it the highest-earning tourist city in the world.

2. Delhi, India – 32,065,760

Delhi, India
Delhi boasts excellent cuisine, which makes it popular with tourists.  

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Delhi, India, has a population of over 32 million, making it the second most populated city in the world. Delhi, also known as the National Capital Territory (NCT) of India, is a sizable Indian metropolis that has been inhabited continuously since at least the 6th century and has served as the center of numerous empires and kingdoms throughout history. Furthermore, it has repeatedly been taken, destroyed, and rebuilt, and this has caused the city to have some form of a relic from each of its past rulers. Delhi’s long history and historic ties to being India’s capital have had an impact on its culture. This, coupled with the fact that the city boasts excellent cuisine, makes it popular with tourists.  

1. Tokyo, Japan – 37,274,000

Imperial Palace - Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo - Japan, Bridge - Built Structure, Emperor
Tokyo is the most populated city in the world.

©iStock.com/golaizola

The most populated city in the world is Tokyo, Japan. With a population of over 37 million people, it has become the most densely populated city in the world. As one of the biggest and most powerful cities in Asia, if not the entire world, Tokyo has long been the largest metropolis in Japan. It was formerly known as Edo and developed from a small town to become, in the 1720s, Asia’s first city with a population of over a million.

The town was renamed Tokyo in 1868 and continued to grow rapidly. The city’s population crossed the two million mark for the first time in 1900, and by the 1940s, more than seven million people moved into the region. Today, Tokyo provides tourists with what seems like an infinite number of options for dining, entertainment, shopping, and just experiencing the different cultures the city and its inhabitants have to offer. The city’s history can be appreciated in the various museums or temples scattered around.

Summary of the 10 Most Populated Cities in the World

Here’s a recap of the 10 cities in the world with the largest populations.

RankLocationPopulation
1Tokyo, Japan37,274,000
2Delhi, India32,065,760
3Shanghai, China28,516,904
4Dhaka, Bangladesh23,209,616
5SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil22,429,800
6Mexico City, Mexico22,085,140
7Cairo, Egypt21,750,020
8Beijing, China21,333,332
9Mumbai, India20,961,472
10Olaka, Japan19,000,000

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Shibuya Crossing at twilight in Tokyo, Japan from above
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Sources
  1. Laurie L. Dove, Available here: https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/largest-cities-in-world.htm#pt10
  2. , Available here: https://www.infoplease.com/world/population/most-populous-cities-world
  3. Anna Kaufman, Available here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/09/26/most-populous-city-in-world/10427581002/