Mankind is growing at a staggering speed. So are our cities. This video ranks the top 15 most populated cities in the world from 1700 to 2019.

Before we go to the video I want to give you some background on how quickly the human population is growing.

According to Wikipedia: Global human population growth amounts to around 83 million annually or 1.1% per year. The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.616 billion in 2018. It is expected to keep growing, and estimates have put the total population at 8.6 billion by mid-2030, 9.8 billion by mid-2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.

The last time the world population hasn’t been growing was in the year 1350. That was the time of the Black Death. Killing people faster than they were born.

The growth is not coming from more sex and babies, but rather due to a decline of mortality particularly of childhood mortality followed by infant mortality.

Now let’s see how this massive growth has affected our cities:


The population numbers are based on a contiguous urban area, without regard to territorial or other boundaries inside an urban area. Using urban area populations rather than political borders creates a closer measure for the true size of a city as they measure what’s there, rather than where governments drew arbitrary lines centuries ago.

If you, however, take a different approach and define the term city like this: “locality defined according to legal or political boundaries and an administratively recognized urban status”.

You end up with a quite different top 15 list, of the most populated cities in the world (numbers in million):

  1. Chongqing – 30,16 – China
  2. Shanghai – 24,18 – China
  3. Beijing – 21,7 – China
  4. Instanbul – 15,02 – Turkey
  5. Karachi – 14,91 – Pakistan
  6. Dhaka – 14,39 – Bangladesh
  7. Tokyo – 13,51 – Japan
  8. Moscow – 13,2- Russia
  9. Guangzhou – 13,08 – China
  10. Shenzhen – 12,52 – China
  11. Mumbai – 12,42 – India
  12. Sao Paulo 12,03 – Brazil
  13. Kinshasa – 11,46 – Dem. Rep. Congo
  14. Tianjin – 11,24 – China
  15. Lahore – 11,12 – Pakistan

As we can see since China abolished the 1 child policy their numbers are growing at a massive pace. Making up the biggest part of the world’s population. China is also by far the biggest producer of CO2.

We’re not going to grow forever – luckily. The United Nations Population Division projects world population to reach 11.2 billion by the end of the 21st century, but  Sanjeev Sanyal has argued that global fertility will fall below the replacement rate in the 2020s and that world population will peak below 9 billion by 2050, followed by a long decline.