Special Report

9 Cities With More Than 20 Million People

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9. Beijing, China
> Estimated population in 2021: 20,896,820

The population of Beijing, China’s capital city, has been increasing rapidly since the mid-20th century, showing an average growth rate of about 20% per decade. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, the number of Beijing residents grew by 44% — and some authorities have estimated that the city’s population will reach 50 million by 2050.

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8. Mumbai, India
> Estimated population in 2021: 20,667,656

Mumbai — formerly known as Bombay — is India’s largest city by population, though Delhi (see No. 2) boasts the largest metropolitan area. The country’s most densely populated city, Mumbai, also India’s business capital, has seen its population more than double since 1991 — in large part due to the continuing arrival of job-seekers from other parts of the sub-continent.

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7. Cairo, Egypt
> Estimated population in 2021: 21,322,750

The largest city in Egypt (second-place Alexandria has a mere 30% of its population) and the nation’s capital, Cairo, which is more than 2,000 years old, is also the most populous metropolis on the African continent and in the Arab world.

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6. Dhaka, Bangladesh
> Estimated population in 2021: 21,741,090

The capital of Bangladesh and also its main economic and cultural center, Dhaka (sometimes spelled Dacca) is the sixth-most densely populated city in the world. It has about six times as many residents today as it did in 1950.

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5. Mexico City, Mexico
> Estimated population in 2021: 21,918,936

The Mexican capital is not only the second-largest city in the Americas (after São Paulo; see No. 4), but also home to more Spanish-speakers than any other city in the world. Its greater metropolitan area is comprised of 61 municipalities, two of which have populations of more than a million themselves.

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