The map above shows the 4,037 cities in the world that have over 100,000 people living in them. It was created by reddit user Fingolas, who explains how the map was created:
A little background: I started with a list from the United Nations, later realising, that it’s not complete (China is missing, for example) and it not in every case contains the most current data. So I looked what Wikipedia had and in many cases it really helped (surprisingly often the German version was better than the English one). The one big exception was Central and West Africa, where an organisation called E-Geopolis did their own count and found many official statistics overblown (some background). So I used data from their count called Africapolis.
The top 5 countries with the most 100K+ cities are:
- India – 328
- Brazil – 300
- USA – 295
- Japan – 263
- China – 209
In total these cities house around 2.1 billion people or around 28% of the world’s population.
Now if you look at the list above, a few things should jump out at you. For example, how does China, with nearly 1.36 billion people, have 100 fewer 100K+ cities than Brazil, a country with just over 200 million people? Reddit user elefantpp provides a plausible answer:
China defines “cities” differently than most of the western world. In China, the primary subdivision is the province, and some cities are direct-controlled municipalities such as Chongqing which, being on the same level as provinces, take up about the same amount of space!
The Municipality of Chongqing which in countries like Brazil or the US would be multiple cities and some large suburbs in a metro area and then some, are considered a single city. Most cities in China have massive limits from the size of an American county all the way up to a province, including both urban and rural areas.
This is one of the reasons why (other than its large population) that there are a whopping 160 “cities” in China with over a million inhabitants but only 9 in the US. This is also evident if you look at the map. If you zoom in on China, there are far-spaced large bubbles but over Brazil and America, there are large bubbles surrounded by a host of small bubbles.
In China, these would all be consolidated.
For an alternative view, here are the same cities without the world map behind:
Finally, while the map above is impressive many users on reddit were quick to find faults. Some of which include:
- Lack of Taiwanese cities
- No cities from Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Confusion between metro area and city proper population figures
- Several missing cities that have over 100K people
Nevertheless, despite these errors, we think the map above is pretty cool given the difficulty of finding comparable data.
You can learn more about world cities and population from:
- World’s Best Cities: Celebrating 220 Great Destinations
- A Concise History of World Population
- Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues
Is your city missing from the map? If so, see if it’s in the interactive version or complain about it in the comments section below. Just keep in mind we did not create the map and thus cannot edit it:
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Tenerife have more than 300.000 each one.
I see some mistakes in Spain, anyway is a great job!
Dwarkaprasad Chakravarty says
Great work and an improvement over the UN list which has some surprising major omissions. Do you have an Excel or csv file with the cities and populations which you could share. Thanks.
Figures for Syria are most likely the provinces, not the cities. They even have a city called “Damascus rural” wich is a province. Most other mid-sized towns have way too high numbers so i think it’s province inhabitants (pre-war, of course).
On the other side, Lebanon is densely populated, i don’t know their definition of “city” but they do have many urban centers outside Beirut.
Petr Talas says
Some of the data must be over 15 years old. Last year when Ostrava, Czech Republic, had 314k people was 2002. Impressive work anyway!
not true according to census 2011 there are 498 cities in India with about 100k+ population…and i am sure in next sensus scheduled in 2021 it will be more than 600 cities!!
Gran Canaria has 1 and Tenerife 2 cities over 100000 people.