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Megacities in Asia Pacific - statistics & facts

Megacities are becoming a global normality, with an increasing number of cities reaching the ten million inhabitant mark, thus securing their megacity title. Depending on the source, a megacity can be defined as an urban agglomeration or a metropolitan area. Naturally, many American and South American cities have crossed the ten million threshold, likely due to their strong economies. However, the Asia Pacific region is in fact home to the highest number of megacities globally, with China and India leading the region with the highest number megacities.

As well as higher birth rates, increasing levels of migration have caused the emergence of megacities. Many people have opted to relocate to urbanized areas which can offer more opportunities as opposed to rural surroundings. However, astronomical populations also cause concerns with environment and affordability. Mumbai for example, has been the most expensive housing market throughout recent years. Despite Mumbai’s housing market, India’s general housing affordability has improved in the past eight years as of 2018. Japan, on the other hand, has experienced difficulties in providing affordable housing in the well-developed metropolitan area of Tokyo, reflected by the growth of the average land price. Tokyo was also declared as the megacity which had the highest cost of living index score throughout the Asia Pacific region in 2020.

High population densities in megacities can often lead to environmental problems. A dense population, and thus heavier reliance on road network infrastructures, causes increased traffic. This in turn can create significant burdens on the environment. The most populated cities in the Asia Pacific region are located in Japan, India and China. When analyzing China, it can be deduced that pollution has been one of the biggest challenges for the East Asian country. The monthly averages of the air quality index of Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing seldomly reach the value index of 50 points, above which the air quality is considered acceptable. Nonetheless, pollution is not just a problem in China alone. When surveyed, citizens across India conveyed concern for their country’s air pollution, as well as climate change. Indonesian megacity Jakarta and its metropolitan area, known as Jabodetabek, recently experienced an economic boom which also led to a greater infrastructure demand and consequently, exacerbated traffic congestion problems. Despite the traffic and pollution issues caused, the majority of megacities in the Asia Pacific region were able to either decrease their traffic congestion level or hold it constant.

If the global urbanization rate which indicates that the emergence of megacities across Asia will continue, then it appears as though the Asia Pacific region must continue to address and counter the strains which megacities are having on their environments. However, measures within sustainable city development through technological innovations and the rising environmental awareness in society could help in managing the challenges of megacities.

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Megacities in Asia Pacific

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