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Global megacities - Statistics & Facts

Megacities have been defined by the United Nations as cities with more than ten million inhabitants. The broader definition of a city is more difficult to establish as such area is sometimes referred to as “city proper", "urban agglomeration", or "metropolitan area". Each of these distinctions has important implications for designating urban boundaries, which consequently affects how the population size is determined.

Megacity population

Despite varying definitions, there is no doubt that city populations have been growing throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The number of people living in urban areas with 10 million inhabitants or more has rocketed from 69.5 million in 1975 to 472.8 million in 2015. Moreover, this number is projected to almost double until 2035. It is no wonder as more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas as of 2019. In China, the degree of urbanization exceeded 60 percent in the same year.
The three largest urban agglomerations worldwide are Tokyo-Yokohama, Jakarta and Delhi, with populations of 39.11, 36.36, and 31.87 million people, respectively.

Pros and cons of living in a megacity

Megacities present various opportunities for its citizens, including access to education, diversified job market and higher salaries, different means of transport, interconnectivity, various social activities and events.
The other side of the coin is that increasingly concentrated urban areas are noisy, have high costs of living, are often marked by slums and high crime rates. Also, limited space, homelessness, traffic congestion, and management of energy and waste are an issue. These matters pose complex challenges for the rapidly urbanizing cities in the 21st century.


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