Special Report

The 50 Most Densely Populated Cities in the World

Source: Yongyuan Dai / Getty Images

10. Shanghai, China
> Population density: 34,718 per square mile
> Population: 10,000,000
> Square miles: 288 miles

For more than two decades, Shanghai has been among the fastest growing urban areas in the world. Migration is behind much of the population expansion, with people from other regions of China flocking to the area. Shanghai is the world’s busiest container port; major industries include financial services, tech, wholesale and retail, real estate, transportation, construction, and manufacturing.

Source: ChandraDhas / Getty Images

9. Bogota, Colombia
> Population density: 35,000 per square mile
> Population: 7,000,000
> Square miles: 200 miles

Located at more than 8,000 feet above sea level, Bogota is among the highest capital cities on Earth. The country’s center of government and industry, Bogota is aiming to become one of the greenest cities on the continent. A member of the World Green Building Council for the past decade, Bogota has tightened its building codes, made a priority of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving sustainability.

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8. Chennai, India
> Population density: 37,223 per square mile
> Population: 5,950,000
> Square miles: 160 miles

The capital of Tamil Nadu state, Chennai is a governmental, industrial and cultural center in southern India. Much of the growth in the megalopolis is from migrants moving from rural areas in the state in search of jobs, though Chennai is also a destination for people from throughout the nation. In recent weeks the region has faced a water shortage, as four of the largest reservoirs are virtually dry from lack of rain.

Source: LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

7. Taipei, Taiwan
> Population density: 39,263 per square mile
> Population: 5,700,000
> Square miles: 145 miles

Though there’s no doubt that Taipei is among the most densely populated places on Earth, there’s some concern that the headcount may actually begin to drop. A low birth rate and aging population are fueling fears of a future dwindling workforce and decline in productivity that could slow technical innovation and take a toll on the economy.

Taiwan is the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, and in June, Taipei was the scene of Asia’s largest gay pride parade.

Source: NicolasMcComber / Getty Images

6. Seoul/Incheon, South Korea
> Population density: 43,208 per square mile
> Population: 17,500,000
> Square miles: 405 miles

Low birth rates have caused Seoul’s population growth to level off somewhat. But there’s not likely to be much room to roam in South Korea’s capital for the foreseeable future. The city’s population density is about twice that of New York City and four times higher than that of Los Angeles. The region has the distinction of having one of the best-run airports in the world, Incheon International.

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