Special Report

The World’s 33 Megacities

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33. Krung Tep (Bangkok), Thailand
> 2018 population: 10.2 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +58.8%
> Pct. of Thailand’s population: 14.7%
> Est. 2030 population: 12.10 million

With its ancient palaces, pulsating nightlife, and nearby tropical getaways, Thailand’s capital is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Situated on the Chao Phraya, one of the region’s most important rivers for trade and rice production, Bangkok has historically been an important trading post and is today the country’s urban nerve center. Though it’s known as the Land of Smiles, Thailand has endured sometimes caustic urban-rural divisions, with 80% of the country’s poor living outside the relatively prosperous capital.

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32. Lima, Peru
> 2018 population: 10.4 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +42.5%
> Pct. of Peru’s population: 31.9%
> Est. 2030 population: 12.27 million

Surrounded by a coastal desert, Lima, which is situated on the Pacific Ocean, is Peru’s commercial and political center. This explains why nearly a third of the country’s population resides there. The city, with its modem condos rising above pre-colonial ruins, is the second most arid world capital after Cairo. Lima’s proximity to the Pacific makes it an ideal destination for both surfers and seafood fans. Once a tranquil city, Lima is now a gritty and noisy metropolis thanks to rapid economic development. The country was one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies between 2002 and 2013, according to the World Bank.

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31. Chennai (Madras), India
> 2018 population: 10.5 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +58.6%
> Pct. of India’s population: 0.8%
> Est. 2030 population: 13.81 million

Formerly known as Madras, Chennai, the capital of India’s southernmost state, Tamil Nadu, is the smallest of five megacities in India. The city originated as a town built around a British trading post in the 17th century and has grown into a bustling urban center with an industrial emphasis on automotive, electronics, and health care. It is also one of the largest information technology hubs. With hundreds of Hindu temples and several nearby beaches along the Bay of Bengal, Chennai is also one of South India’s most popular domestic and foreign tourism destinations.

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30. Jakarta, Indonesia
> 2018 population: 10.5 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +25.4%
> Pct. of Indonesia’s population: 3.9%
> Est. 2030 population: 12.69 million

Indonesia’s capital, along with Manila and Bangkok, is one of the three megacities in Southeast Asia’s. Located on the northwest coast of Java (the country’s fourth largest and by far most populous island), Jakarta is the crowded, traffic-snarled, beating heart of this archipelago nation of 269 million people. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s tenth largest, and many of its non-agricultural economic engines are based in the capital, with its largest manufacturing industries involved in automotive, electronics, medical devices, and chemicals. As in many of the world’s megacities, poverty and pollution pose major challenges.

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29. Bogotá, Colombia
> 2018 population: 10.6 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +67.1%
> Pct. of Colombia’s population: 21.4%
> Est. 2030 population: 12.34 million

Bogotá is one of the world’s 13 megacities that is also a national capital. Located on a high central Andean plateau, Bogotá is also the political, cultural, and financial center of the second most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico and the second most populous South American country after Brazil. The city is a major destination for foreign direct investment in Latin America, with many foreign companies basing their regional operations there. Bogotá‘s street crime remains a concern, and local polls show public skepticism of the justice system, but gone are the days of the city’s high violent crime rates of the mid-’90s.

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