According to the World Economic Forum, ten world cities are predicted to achieve mega-city status by the year 2030. Mega-cities are urban areas with over 10 million inhabitants, and there are currently 31 of them across the world. The continued increase in their number is the most visible evidence of the accelerating global trend towards urbanization.
In 1950, cities were home to less than one-third of the global population, and there only two mega-cities to be found in the world – New York and Tokyo. Today, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas , and within just one generation, that proportion is set to grow to 68% of the total population.
We are all familiar with the names of some of our mega-cities – New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, and Cairo – but some of the cities that the UN predicts will break the ten million mark by 2030 are less familiar. Nine of the 10 cities projected to become megacities between 2018 and 2030 are located in developing countries.
The ‘new’ mega cities list:
These tables show the existing mega cities (2018), and the ‘new’ list of mega cities predicted for 2030:
This PDF contains some great data for geographers teaching about world urbanization:
For instance, it explains how between 2018 and 2030, Delhi is projected to increase by more than 10 million inhabitants, and overtake Tokyo (declining by almost 900,000) on the list of world cities ranked by size:
Other interesting points revealed in this document:
- 90% of the shift to urban areas will take place in Asia and Africa
- Currently, 22 of the world’s 33 mega cities are in Asia and Africa, as are all except one of the 10 set to join them by 2030
- All of the top 10 fastest growing cities in the world are in India
- China will gain two more megacities, with Chengdu and Nanjing adding to the six already topping the 10 million mark (Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen)
- Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, is predicted to be the fourth biggest city in the world by 2030, with 28 million inhabitants
- There is a notable exception to Asia’s population boom, in ageing Japan. Twenty years ago Osaka was second only to Tokyo. But the population of its metropolitan region peaked at 19 million, and is now actually shrinking. By 2030 it will have dropped out of the top 10 altogether
- Surprisingly, no new megacities are predicted at all for the Americas. Sao Paulo and Mexico City are currently the 4th and 5th largest in the world. But by 2030 they will have dropped to 9th and 8th respectively
- In 1950, the United States could boast six of the world’s 20 biggest cities. By 2030 it will have just one – New York
- Europe has seen the largest number of cities actually losing population (particularly in Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine). But it also contains the only place outside Asia and Africa predicted to achieve megacity status between now and 2030 – London