Mega city

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Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world

As a megacity (also Megacity , plural megacities , English megacity ) are cities called the ten million or more inhabitants have. An alternative term is mega urban space , which also agglomeration rooms such as the Rhine-Ruhr involving about 10 million inhabitants. In some studies, a threshold of 5 or 8 million people is also used.

The term megacity is a purely quantitative classification. It must be distinguished from the term cosmopolitan city , which represents a qualitative classification. A metropolis is often, but not always, a megacity, and not every megacity is automatically a metropolis. A megacity is very often the prime city of the respective country.


By 1900, London was the most populous city in the world with over 5 million people. In 1950, New York and Tokyo, two cities, had more than 10 million inhabitants. Mexico City was added by 1975 , and by 2000 there were 18 megacities worldwide.


The high population concentration in megacities or mega-urban areas leads to a number of problems. These start with the fact that all residents have to be supplied with basic food and drinking water, which often leads to massive pollution of the surrounding area. The urban population is growing as a result of rural exodus. There is usually not enough housing available for this newly added population, so that informal settlements are often created.

In the event of a disaster, evacuating the city or providing emergency supplies to the population is extremely difficult, since the transport infrastructure is usually already overloaded in its normal state and, moreover, often not even precise figures are available about the demand. The population in an area can usually only be roughly estimated, as there are no reporting requirements in many countries . The current problems of the megacities are greater than the problems of the European and North American cities during the industrialization of the 19th century, simply because of their dimensions (ten to twenty million inhabitants) and their speed of growth .

Megacities by region

Istanbul is the only mega city in the world to be located on two continents

The definition of the size of a city or agglomeration (core city and densely populated surrounding area) is not standardized worldwide. A lack of comparability in the spatial delimitation as well as errors and inaccuracies in the updating and extrapolation of the population figures can lead to deviations in the information for one and the same city.

The largest metropolitan area in the world is the Tokyo metropolitan area with around 36 million inhabitants. In addition to the 23 districts in the area of ​​the former city ​​of Tokyo, this also includes several surrounding cities of over a million.

If you look at the largest metropolitan regions in the world , there are a total of 36 megacities as of 2016. The largest eight of these are in Asia. The following count as megacities:

See also


  • Dirk Bronger : Metropolises, megacities, global cities. The metropolitanization of the earth. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2004.
  • Martin Heintel , Günter Spreitzhofer, Helmut Wagner (ed. Of the series): Megacities . 48 S. Vienna 2001: Ed. Hölzel (= segments; economic and socio-geographic thematic booklets, issue 4).
  • Frauke Kraas and Ulrich Nitschke : Megacities as engines of global change. New challenges of global urbanization. In: Internationale Politik 11/2006, pp. 18–28. Download: ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: PDF )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  • Frauke Kraas, Mirjam Leuze , Ulrich Nitschke: Megacities - Living Spaces of the Future , August 2007. Global Campus 21. Link:  ( page no longer available , search in web archives )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  • Michael Waibel (Ed.): Ho Chi Minh MEGA City. Pacific Forum Volume 14. Berlin 2013.
  • Worldwatch Institute (Ed.) In collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Germanwatch: Zur Lage der Welt 2007. The Planet of Cities . Munster 2007.
  • Future megacities . Series editor: Elke Pahl-Weber , Bernd Kochendörfer, Lukas Born, Carsten Zehner, Ulrike Assmann.
    • Volume 1: Ludger Eltrop, Thomas Telsnig, Ulrich Fahl, Ed .: Energy and Sun. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86859-273-3 .
    • Volume 2: Wulf-Holger Arndt: Mobility and Transportation. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86859-274-0 .
    • Volume 3: Bernd Mahrin, Ed .: Capacity Development. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86859-275-7 .
    • Volume 4: Ulrike Schinkel, Angela Jain, Sabine Schröder, ed .: Local Action and Participation. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86859-276-4 .
    • Volume 5: Elke Pahl-Weber, Frank Schwartze, ed .: Space, Planning, and Design. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86859-277-1 .
    • Supplementary volume: Lukas Born, Ed .: Young Research Forum. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86859-279-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Megacity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. plural of the term
  2. ^ Günter Mertins: Urbanization, metropolitanization and megacities. Causes of the city 'explosion' in the third world. In: German Society for the United Nations (ed.): Mega cities - time bombs with global consequences. Documentations, information, opinions, 44., Bonn 1992, pp. 7-21.
  3. The current HABITAT statistics also assume a population of 10 million.
  4. Official population figures ( Memento from September 22, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Diercke 360 ​​Grad Weltatlas Magazin, special issue Megastädte ( Memento from April 13, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  6. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2005 Revision ( Memento of February 19, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Example Egypt: Archived copy ( Memento from December 22, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  8. Population of Japan ( memento of February 5, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) in: AHK Japan, accessed on June 8, 2016