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The 10 Fastest Growing Megacities In The World

As the world’s population rapidly moves into urban areas, the world’s largest cities are growing explosively—and almost all that growth is happening in the developing world.

  • <p>The fastest growing megacities in the world. 1: Karachi, Pakistan.</p>
  • <p>2: Shenzhen, China.</p>
  • <p>3: Lagos, Nigeria</p>
  • <p>4: Beijing, China</p>
  • <p>5: Bangkok, Thailand.</p>
  • <p>6: Dhaka, Bangladesh.</p>
  • <p>7: Guangzhou-Foshan, China</p>
  • <p>8: Shanghai, China</p>
  • <p>9: Delhi, India</p>
  • <p>10: Jakarta, Indonesia.</p>
  • 01 /10

    The fastest growing megacities in the world. 1: Karachi, Pakistan.

  • 02 /10

    2: Shenzhen, China.

  • 03 /10

    3: Lagos, Nigeria

  • 04 /10

    4: Beijing, China

  • 05 /10

    5: Bangkok, Thailand.

  • 06 /10

    6: Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  • 07 /10

    7: Guangzhou-Foshan, China

  • 08 /10

    8: Shanghai, China

  • 09 /10

    9: Delhi, India

  • 10 /10

    10: Jakarta, Indonesia.

The world’s population is rapidly moving into city centers; by 2050, seven out of every 10 people on Earth will live in a city. But not every city will be a megacity—defined as an urban area with over 10 million inhabitants—and not every megacity is equally large.

Every year, Demographia releases a comprehensive list of the population, land area, and population density of urban areas with over 500,000 inhabitants. It’s a huge list, as you might imagine. But in looking at the top 10 urban areas by population, some clear patterns emerge. Below, the list.

The United States and Europe are distinctly absent from the list, with the exception of the New York metropolitan area. If you scroll through the entire Demographia list (warning: it’s extremely long), you’ll notice that the pattern continues: the vast majority of the world’s biggest megacities are in the developing world, and, as New Geography points out, the fastest-growing megacities are also in developing nations.

You can see this clearly in McKinsey’s Urban World app, which examines how population levels (and other factors) in cities will change by 2025.

New Geography concludes that "the most rapid growth is taking place in countries that still have large rural hinterlands and relatively young populations. These mostly poor places— most with median incomes between Dhaka at $3,100 per capita and Bangkok at $23,000—will continue to grow, at least until their populations begin to see the results of decreasing birthrates." These places may be poor, but according to McKinsey, 440 big cities in emerging economies will make up half of the planet’s economic growth by 2025.

In other words, the U.S. will probably matter less and less as time goes by.

[IMAGES via Shutterstock]