Special Report

The World’s 33 Megacities

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23. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, United States of America
> 2018 population: 12.5 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +5.6%
> Pct. of United States of America’s population: 3.8%
> Est. 2030 population: 13.21 million

The Los Angeles metro area is one of two U.S. megacities on this list, though it is considerably less populous than the New York City metro area. Like the Big Apple, the City of Angels is a major U.S. economic hub. It’s not just the main home of the country’s entertainment industry, but also hosts one of the world’s largest port complexes (the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles). Los Angeles is also a major tourism destination, drawing a record 50 million visitors in 2018.

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22. Guangzhou, China
> 2018 population: 12.6 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +61.8%
> Pct. of China’s population: 0.9%
> Est. 2030 population: 16.02 million

This provincial capital of Guangzhou is located in the industrial, densely populated Pearl River Delta near Hong Kong. Because of their proximity to each other, the nine big mainland cities of this region (including Shenzhen, another Chinese megacity on this list) are considered by the World Bank to be the world’s largest urban cluster.

Guangzhou has been one of China’s commercial and trading centers for centuries and was the first port regularly visited by European traders, who called it Canton. Guangzhou is one of the four port cities in the Pearl River Delta that together comprise the third largest port in the world after Shanghai and Singapore.

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21. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
> 2018 population: 13.2 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +114.5%
> Pct. of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s population: 15.7%
> Est. 2030 population: 21.91 million

The African continent has three megacities: Lagos, Cairo, and Kinshasa. The capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo spreads out from the banks of the Congo River and is surrounded by farmed savanna. The city is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s industrial and commercial hubs, with industries largely focused on consumer goods like beer and textiles.

The nation rebounded from a recession in 2018 thanks to stronger worldwide demand for its copper and cobalt. Despite improvements in the sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, poverty and hunger remain critical challenges among Kinshasa city dwellers. The rapid influx of rural residents into the city is also putting pressure on infrastructure, especially in transportation.

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20. Tianjin, China
> 2018 population: 13.2 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +89.1%
> Pct. of China’s population: 0.9%
> Est. 2030 population: 15.75 million

This northern Chinese megacity is located on a heavily industrialized inlet of the Yellow Sea. It has long been a vital transport and trading center due to its role as the gateway to the country’s capital, Beijing, about 75 miles to the northwest.

Tianjin is so vital to China that it is one of the country’s four municipalities that fall under direct control of the central government. (The other three are Beijing, Chongqing, and Shanghai.) Owing to its rich cosmopolitan history, Tianjin features numerous historical attractions, but like other Chinese urban centers it struggles with air pollution and trade-related congestion. The city has been very aggressive in trying to attract foreign investment and upgrade its infrastructure.

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19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
> 2018 population: 13.3 million
> 2000-2018 population growth: +17.6%
> Pct. of Brazil’s population: 6.3%
> Est. 2030 population: 14.41 million

The scenic coastal city known for its beautiful beaches and crowded slums is the smaller of Brazil’s two megacities and one of six megacities in Latin America. Rio accounts for 11% of Brazil’s GDP, with key industries including finance, mining, health care, retail, the production of sugar cane, and, of course, tourism.

A steady influx of migrants from rural Brazil continues to feed the parts of the city that receive little or no services from the state. Some of these camps evolved into shanty towns, known as favelas, on the edges of the city.

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