This is a list of contiguous urban areas of the world ranked according to population. Figures have been taken from two sources: Demographia's "World Urban Areas" study, and from citypopulation.de, created by Thomas Brinkhoff of the Institut für Angewandte Photogrammetrie und Geoinformatik.
Definitions and issues
Demographia defines an urban area (urbanized area agglomeration or urban centre) as a continuously built up land mass of urban development that is within a labor market (i.e. metropolitan area or metropolitan region), without regard for administrative boundaries (i.e. municipality, city or commune). Except in Australia, the authorities use a minimum urban density definition of 400 persons per square kilometer (or the nearly identical 1,000 per square mile in the United States). Demographia uses maps and satellite photographs to estimate continuous urbanization. Demographia also uses small area population data, where available, to match population estimates to urbanized land area. National census authority data are presented in Australia, Canada, France, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Census of India urban agglomerations are not used in some cases because the geographical size of constituent units (municipalities) often includes large rural (non-urban) areas.
Sources for population estimates and land area definitions are coded by letter in the Table below, respectively.
A: National census authority data agglomeration data (land area or population).
B: Demographia land area estimate based upon map or satellite photograph analysis.
C: Demographia population estimate from lower order jurisdictions, including reduction for rural areas.
D: Population estimate based upon the United Nations agglomeration estimate.
E: Demographia population estimate from national census authority data.
F: Other Demographia population estimate, such as from unofficial local reports.
L: Demographia population estimate from local authority data.
N: Combined urban area using national census authority data.
W: Population estimate based upon the World Bank Urban Area 2015 estimate.
The estimates are quite different from the list of World's largest urban agglomerations produced by the United Nations that reports inconsistently on urban geographic, despite its reference to agglomerations. This is evident, for example, in Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Seoul and Moscow, where the UN data are for political jurisdictions, rather than urban areas. In other cases, the UN data is for metropolitan area, which are larger than urban areas (such as in Brazil). Finally, the United Nations data is incomplete, excluding some significant urban areas (such as Essen–Düsseldorf in Germany).
According to the report, there are 875 identified urban areas in the world with 500,000 or more population as of 2013. Demographia released along with the report include a disclaimer that this list of data is compiled on best available information, the vary nature of which is changing rapidly and quality is improving as it becomes available, yet still remains highly variable between nations, and hefty revisions are not unforeseen for the future. Appropriate caution is therefore advised.
224 urban areas with population of over two million
^Various international sources limit their population estimates to DKI Jakarta itself (the national capital district). However, the urbanization of Jakarta extends into the regencies of Tangerang, Bekasi, Bogor and Karawang and the separate cities of Bekasi, Depok and Bogor. Excludes urban areas of Karawang (650,000; 207 km2) and Serang (525,000; 65 km2).
^The population is higher than other agglomeration estimates (such as the United Nations and the Philippine Statistics Authority). The continuous urbanization of Manila extends outward into other neighbouring provinces such as Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Batangas provinces. The Demographia population estimate is a "build-up" of municipality population within the continuously developed area (urban area or agglomeration).
^ abcdShanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Ningbo, Changzhou, Shaoxing, and urban area of Zhangjiaggang-Jiangyin within the prefecture-level cities of Suzhou and Wuxi are treated as separate urban areas which constitute the Yangtze River Delta economic zone. Huai'an (1,856,000; 148 km2), Xuzhou (1,246,000; 233 km2), Nantong (1,036,000; 233 km2), Lianyungang (985,000; 155 km2), Zhenjiang (983,000; 168 km2), Yancheng (797,000; 207 km2), Huzhou (690,000; 111 km2), Taizhou (in Jiangsu Province; 300,000; 117 km2) and Suqian (220,000; 36 km2), as well as urban areas of Yangzhou (1,593,000; 233 km2) and Gaoyou (180,000; 39 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Yangzhou, urban areas of Kunshan (1,596,000; 492 km2), Changshu (1,139,000; 285 km2) and Taicang (523,000; 117 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Suzhou, urban areas of Cixi (1,200,000; 298 km2) and Yuyao (650,000; 122 km2) within the sub-provincial city of Ningbo, urban areas of Jiaxing (1,044,000; 259 km2) and Tongxiang (510,000; 52 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Jiaxing, urban areas of Wenling (510,000; 52 km2), Jiaojiang (375,000; 41 km2) and Huangyan (200,000; 34 km2) within the prefectrure-level city of Taizhou (in Zhejiang Province), urban areas of Zhuji (500,000; 117 km2) and Shangyu (400,000; 158 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Shaoxing, urban areas of Yiwu-Dongyang (925,000; 233 km2), Jinhua (520,000; 186 km2), Yongkang (500,000; 223 km2), Dongyang (260,000; 104 km2) and Lanxi (220,000; 34 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Jinhua, and urban area of Fuyang (450,000; 49 km2) within the sub-provincial city of Hangzhou are also excluded.
^Includes Kalyan, and the Panvel urban area. As of 2016, also
includes the Census of India urban areas of Bhiwandi, Kalyan, VasaiVirar
beginning in 2016.
^Excludes urban areas of Toluca (1,747,000; 220 km2) and Cuernavaca (675,000; 171 km2).
^ abcdHong Kong in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Shenzhen are treated as separate urban areas because of the lack of freedom of labor movement without trade, immigration or customs barriers. Guangzhou–Foshan, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Zhongshan are also treated as separate urban areas which constitute the Pearl River Delta economic zone. While Guangzhou and Foshan are combined into a single urban area because they have become more economically integrated than the other urban areas, other areas in the Pearl River Delta economic region remain classified as separate urban areas. Thus, urban areas of Huizhou (1,387,000; 168 km2), Zhuhai (1,274,000; 246 km2) and Zhaoqing (500,000; 65 km2) as well as urban areas of Jiangmen (920,000; 259 km2) and Taishan (204,000; 44 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Jiangmen, urban area of Lishui (300,000; 44 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Foshan and urban are of Macau (560,000; 21 km2) in the Macau Special Administrative Region are excluded. Urban area of Guangzhou–Foshan includes Shunde within the prefecture-level city of Foshan, which has been excluded in the 2011 edition. Urban area of Shenzhen includes Huiyang within the prefecture-level city of Huizhou, which has been excluded in the 2010 edition. Urban area of Huizhou includes only Huicheng District. The Demographia estimate for Dongguan is lower than last year, because local estimates previously used were higher than reported in the 2010 census.
^Includes urban area of Narayanganj which has been excluded in the 2011 edition.
^Includes Nara and Himeji. United Nations estimates separate Osaka–Kobe and Kyoto and exclude both Nara and Himeji. Excludes urban area of Ōtsu (775,000; 303 km2) and Wakayama (430,000; 91 km2).
^The population estimate is suspect, due to the lack of readily available data for local areas outside the city jurisdiction (Moscow Oblast). Demographia is indebted to Richard Forstall, who has provided local authority area population data for portions of Moscow Oblast within the Moscow urban areas. Other estimates (such as the United Nations estimate) include only the municipality of Moscow, which includes only part of the urban footprint. Includes Elektrostal–Noginsk within Moscow Oblast, which has been excluded in the 2011 edition.
^Tianjin and Tangshan are treated as separate urban areas. Urban areas of Cangzhou (500,000; 130 km2) and Langfang (465,000; 130 km2) as well as urban area of Qian'an (400,000; 168 km2) within the prefecture-level city of Tangshan are also excluded. The population of the urban area of Tianjin is lower than other estimates (such as the United Nations), which include metropolitan area population not within the continuously developed urban area. The Demographia population estimate is a "build-up" of sub-municipality population within the continuously developed area (urban area or agglomeration).
^The population is lower than other estimates (such as the United Nations), which include metropolitan area population not within the continuously developed urban area.
^Johannesburg–East Rand and Pretoria are treated as separate urban areas which constitute the Vaal Triangle. Urban area of Vereeninging (Emfuleni) (650,000; 337 km2) is also excluded.
^Excludes urban area of Wanzhou (Wanxian) (500,000; 41 km2) within the municipality of Chongqing. The direct-controlled municipality of Chongqing, which is sometimes translated as the direct-controlled city of Chongqing, has the largest population of any organism called a city in the stretches far beyond any reasonable definition of a metropolitan area.
^The population is higher than other estimates (such as the United Nations), which do not include all population within the continuously developed urban area (especially in New Taipei City). Includes Taoyuan and Jhongli (Chungli) which have been excluded in the 2010 edition. Excludes urban area of Hsinchu (650,000; 117 km2).
^Excludes urban areas of Fushun (1,412,000; 130 km2) and Tieling (325,000; 65 km2).
^The population is higher than other agglomeration estimates (such as the United Nations), which does not include all of the continuously developed urban area in the state of Selangor. Continuous urbanization extends well beyond the municipality of Kuala Lumpur, for example to Port Klang and the area represents a single labor market (metropolitan area). The Demographia population estimate is a "build-up" of municipality population within the continuously developed area (urban area or agglomeration). Excludes urban area of Seremban (500,000; 155 km2).
^Includes Shishi and Jinjiang within the prefecture-level city of Quanzhou.
^Essen–Düsseldorf and Cologne–Bonn are treated as separate urban areas which constitute the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area. Excludes urban area of Aachen–Vaals (585,000; 401 km2) in both Germany and the Netherlands.
^Excludes urban area of Johor Bahru (1,640,000; 712 km2) in Malaysia and urban area of Batam (900,000; 218 km2) in Indonesia.
^Includes Xianyang which has been excluded in the 2010 edition.
^Atlanta urbanized area. Excludes urban areas of Gainesville (131,000; 326 km2) and Athens (129,000; 254 km2).
^The population is higher than other agglomeration estimates (such as the United Nations), which does not include all of the continuously developed urban area, which stretches into Como, Lecco and Varese provinces. Excludes Bergamo which has been included in the 2007 edition (4,950,000; 3,043 km2 in total).
^The US Census Bureau combines Washington and Baltimore into a single metropolitan area (consolidated area) but Demographia considers the two (same with Washington, DC and Baltimore urbanized areas) as separate urban areas. Urban areas of Aberdeen–Havre de Grace (214,000; 339 km2), Hagerstown (183,000; 344 km2), Frederick (142,000; 189 km2), Fredericksburg (141,000; 202 km2) and Waldorf (110,000; 176 km2) are also excluded.
^Includes communities under the authority of the Town Council.
^Excludes urban areas of Acheng (300,000; 39 km2) and Shangzhi (250,000; 18 km2) within the sub-provincial city of Harbin.
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