Megacities in Asia-Pacific- Statistics & Facts

The term “megacity” refers to cities with a population of more than ten million people. However, the definition of the size of a city or agglomeration is not uniformly defined worldwide. Depending on the source, a megacity can be defined as a city proper, an urban agglomeration or a metropolitan area. This lack of comparability in the spatial delimitation, as well as errors and inaccuracies in the updating and extrapolation of population numbers can lead to large deviations of the demographic numbers of the same city. According to the Joint Research Centre of the European Union, Guangzhou is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with approximately 46 million inhabitants.

The high population density in megacities causes several problems. Above all, all residents must be supplied with basic food and drinking water. Additionally, a dense population leads to increased traffic volumes and a greater strain on infrastructure resulting in a massive burden on the environment. Challenges such as these results in megacities in Asia rarely being listed among the cities with the highest quality of life.

According to a study published by the Worldbank, the most populated cities in the Asia-Pacific region are located in Japan, India and China. Looking at China, pollution presents itself as one of the biggest challenges for the future in particular. Unsurprisingly, the monthly averages of the air quality index of Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing only seldomly reach the value index of 50 points; above which the air quality is considered acceptable. In India, the Greenness Index measures the overall health of vegetation. In this respect, environmental issues in megacities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have been identified. Japan, on the other hand, has experienced difficulty in providing affordable housing in the well-developed metropolitan area Tokyo; reflected by the growth of the average land price. Indonesia has only one megacity: Jakarta and its conurbation, known as Jabotabek. The economic boom of recent years has led to a greater infrastructure demand and exacerbated traffic congestion problems.

The global urbanization rate will likely sustain the emergence of megacities across Asia. In terms of quality of life, it remains uncertain whether megacities in the Asia-Pacific region can compete with the rest of the world.

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