What is the most populated city in the world?
Two thousand years ago, there were a mere 170 million people living on Earth. The human race has been on an upward trajectory ever since – logging in at 7.96 billion people in 2022 and projected to reach 10 billion by the 22nd century.
Our burgeoning population presents many challenges, according to the United Nations, especially as countries look to hit sustainability goals by 2030. Basically, the more humans there are on Earth, the more resources such as food, water, and the land we need, the more resources we take away from other species, and the more waste we generate.
There is some good news. Population increases are slowing down and in some countries, and elsewhere, some populations are shrinking. Still, there are other places that are virtually bursting at the seams. We’re looking at the 20 most populous metropolitan areas on the planet.
20. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Current population: 13,634,075 people
Almost 5400 people per square kilometre are packed into this urban area on Brazil’s coast. It’s one of the most popular travel destinations in South America, and yet over 20 per cent of its residents live in impoverished conditions in almost 800 favelas, or so-called ‘substandard’ districts around town. On the plus side, though, population growth is slowing.
19. Tianjin, China
Current population: 14,012,000 people
The population of this 12,000-square-kilometre port city in Northeastern China expanded by a whopping 188 per cent between the years of 1953 and 1982. Luckily, growth has slowed considerably since then – it expanded a mere 1.4 per cent between 2019 and 2020 – but it’s showing no signs of levelling off or even decreasing. Manufacturing is the largest industry in the city and accounts for its speedy and consistent growth.