10. Lagos – 12.6 million
This is the largest city not only in Nigeria but also in the whole of the African continent. It is a huge financial centre in Africa with the highest GDP and has one of its largest and busiest ports. The population of Lagos has been a matter of dispute, with the federal census data and the State Government data clashing with each other, though the current population of the city proper is estimated at approximately 17 million.
Lagos had initially emerged as a port city among a group of islands separated by creeks which are presently contained in the Local Government Areas (LGAs). The native name of the city is Eko, remnant of the times it was a war-camp under the Benin Empire. Lagos, meaning ‘lakes’, was given to the settlement by the Portuguese.
9. Guangzhou – 12.9 million
You probably know this city as Canton. With an urban population of approximately 13 million, it is the 7th largest city in the world. It is located along the Pearl River and is about 75 miles north-northwest of Hong Kong. The city has a rich history of over 2,200 years and occupied an extremely important spot in the maritime Silk Route. Even today it continues to be a major port and international financial centre.
In fact, the city is so large that it holds a sub-provincial status, and is ranked an Alpha-Global city. Over the past few years, it has come to be regarded as the ‘Capital of the Third World’ due to the fast increasing influx of foreign residents, and even illegal immigrants.
8. Istanbul – 14 million
This city has been an international favorite ever since its foundation in 660 BCE and holds an important position in the history of human civilization. The largest city in Europe, Istanbul has seen it all- peace, wars, cultural climax, and everything in between. It continues to be the home to literally every ethnicity out there and has served as the capital of the Roman, the Byzantine, the Latin and the Ottoman empires. It occupied a strategic position in the Silk Route and is considered a global city, being named a European Capital of Culture in 2010. Accounting for more than 25% of Turkey’s GDP, it is one of the fastest growing economies. Over the course of 20 years, it has bid for the Summer Olympics five times.
7. Karachi – 16.1 million
Karachi is the capital of the Sindh province of Pakistan, and with a population of around 16.1 million it is the most populous city of the country, the sixth most populous city and the 8th most populous metro city in the world. Situated along the Arabian Sea, it has one of the two largest ports in the country. After Jakarta, it is the largest city among the Muslim majority countries and has communities from all ethnic groups in Pakistan. It also hosts a large number of refugees.
Karachi is the third largest revenue generator of Pakistan, and handles 95% of the country’s foreign trade, having approximately 90% of the MNCs operating in the country.
6. Dhaka – 17 million
Situated right in the Bengal delta along the east bank of the Buriganga river, this is the 6th most populous city in the world with an urban population of a little over 17 million. With representatives from all ethnic groups to have ever inhabited that region, Dhaka is a microcosm of its home country of Bangladesh.
The city had twice been the capital of Bengal which was the richest province under the Mughals, generating 50% of the Mughal GDP. Jahangir Nagar, as it was then known, was one of the richest and most thriving cities in the world and served as the centre of the international silk and muslin trades. Even today, the Dhaka Stock Exchange continues to handle the largest volumes of trade and market capitalization in South Asia.
5. Beijing – 19.5 million
With a population of 19.5 million, the capital of the People’s Republic of China is the most populous capital city of any country, along with being the world’s second most populous city.
This city has continuously occupied a very important position in world politics for the past eight centuries. It has a huge political and cultural history, with its origins dating back 3,000 years! The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that few cities in the world have been politically so important for such a long time as Beijing. It has not one, but seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and the Great Wall, among others. This makes it one of the most important tourist destinations in the world, contributing to its large population influx.
4. Mumbai – 20.7 million
With a total of 20.7 million inhabitants as of 2017, Mumbai is the second largest metropolitan region in India. Located along the Konkan coast in western India, it has a deep natural harbor which has been a major trading hub since times immemorial. In 2008, it became an alpha city. With the highest number of millionaires and billionaires, it is also the richest city in India.
Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan Indian city and has been ruled by many different ethnicities, including the Portuguese and the British. Today, it is one of the world’s top ten commercial centres in terms of global financial flows and generates 6.16% of the GDP of its home country. Its film industry, known as Bollywood, produces the largest number of films per year internationally. Apart from trade and entertainment, Mumbai is also a premier city of science, housing some of the best facilities in the country like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Department of Atomic Energy, and the Atomic Energy Commission of India.
3. Shanghai – 23 million
The population of the city proper is 23 million, although in the metropolitan area it surpassed this long ago. It has been a global centre of trade since the 19th century, and today has the world’s busiest container port. The city is situated in the Yangtze River Delta, on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze in the East China coast. Since its rejuvenation in the 1990s, Shanghai has grown on to become a landmark of Chinese culture with historic buildings like The Bund, the City God Temple and the Yu Garden.
2. Delhi – 25 million
Delhi has a population of 25 million, making it the third largest city in the world in terms of population. With an urban population of over 26 million, it is the world’s second largest urban area. In India, it is the topmost productive metro area. It is also the second wealthiest city in the country after Mumbai.
Delhi has been attracting people from all over the planet since the 6th century BC. It has been conquered and occupied by numerous peoples throughout the centuries, which contributes to its rich cultural heritage and political importance. This city has a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Qutab Minar and the Red Fort, and has hosted many important events like the 1983 NAM Summit, 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
1. Tokyo – 37 million
The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world and also the largest urban agglomeration economy. The capital of Japan is home to the largest number of Fortune Global 500 companies- 51 to be precise. The metropolitan area alone has 37 million people. Tokyo occupies the first position in the Global Economic Power Index, the third in the International Financial Centres Development IndexEdit, and the fourth in the Global Cities Index.
In spite of its huge population, Tokyo has consistently held the first rank in categories such as ‘helpful locals’, ‘public transportation’ and ‘cleanliness’ by several renowned magazines, as well as being voted the most livable city in the world. The city is taken to be an alpha+ world city.
From this list, it can be seen that most of these cities have been economic and cultural hubs ever since human beings started settling down and forming cities. While many others have become extinct, these have become historical records in themselves. Awesome when you think about it.