Special Report

The 50 Most Densely Populated Cities in the World

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25. São Paulo, Brazil
> Population density: 23,294 per square mile
> Population: 17,700,000
> Square miles: 760 miles

São Paulo is Brazil’s most densely populated area, one of the most crowded metro areas in the Southern Hemisphere, and the world’s largest Portuguese-speaking city. The capital of the state of the same name, São Paulo is the financial capital of Brazil. It is also a major export center, dealing in products such as soybean, coffee, raw sugar and corn.

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24. Hyderabad, India
> Population density: 23,545 per square mile
> Population: 5,300,000
> Square miles: 225 miles

In a 2018 report, Hyderabad was credited with having the highest gross domestic product growth among 20 cities in emerging Asia-Pacific nations. The city, which is the capital of the state of Telangana, was rated second among nine Indian cities for employment growth rate over two years. For the fourth straight year, Hyderabad was named India’s top city for standard of living.

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23. Shenyang, China
> Population density: 24,013 per square mile
> Population: 4,200,000
> Square miles: 175 miles

This northeastern Chinese industrial city is located a little more than 300 miles from the North Korea border. The capital of Liaoning Province, Shenyang’s main products include cars and auto parts, construction materials, chemicals, steel and agricultural products. Unlike Northeast China’s other provincial capital cities, Shenyang’s population has grown in recent years, with the increase attributed to job seekers, increased college enrollment and more families having second children.

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22. Baghdad, Iraq
> Population density: 23,901 per square mile
> Population: 5,500,000
> Square miles: 230 miles

Following the defeat of the Islamic State last year, Baghdad residents reported that life was starting to feel somewhat safe and normal. People who had fled during more than a decade of war and upheaval began returning to their hometown, the capital of Iraq. The economy in Iraq had been picking up in recent months.

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21. Cairo, Egypt
> Population density: 24,400 per square mile
> Population: 12,200,000
> Square miles: 500 miles

Cairo is among the most densely populated cities in Africa, with its ongoing growth attributed to the disparity between the annual birth rate (30 births per 1,000 people) and death rate (7 deaths per 1,000 people). Egypt’s capital city has such a perennial housing shortage that for decades residents have occupied every viable bit of space, including among the above-ground tombs in the el-Arafa necropolis, also known as the City of the Dead.

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