8 Megacities Exceeding 20 Million People

The world’s population keeps growing at a rapid pace, especially in the megacities around the world. More than half of the world’s population already are urban dwellers. As time goes on, even more people are expected to find themselves in the largest cities. In fact, the UN estimates more than 80 megacities already exceed 5M residents.

We’ve aligned the 8 most populated cities with photos and pertinent information, to provide you with some insight about these gargantuan metropolitan areas. See how many you recognise in the following list, before checking out details below each photo to learn what makes each of them special:

To learn more about these metropolises and more around the world download the Pinpoint Where app from the iOS App Store.

  to get Pinpoint Where   Download it from the iOS App Store

Photo showing Pedestrians crossing the famous intersection, in Shibuya, Tokyo, the most populated city in the world
Pedestrians crossing the famous intersection, in Shibuya, Tokyo – Benh Lieu Song

Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵

Most Populated City with almost 40M

Tokyo continues to stay at the top of even the megacities in terms of its population. In turn, simply trying to navigate it represents a challenge. For instance, to cross the busiest intersection of Japan’s modern capital, Shibuya, is mind boggling. Just imagine: Every time the lights turn green, as many as 2,500 people start walking. Locals call this ‘the incredible scramble.’ In the same vein, the Skyscrapers of Shinjuku accommodate enormous amounts of people. For instance, Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is home to not only one but three universities. Then there is Shinjuku Station, close to Tokyo’s infamous entertainment district, where nearly four million passengers come through every day. Notwithstanding, Tokyo is also one of the safest cities in the world, and certainly worth visiting. If you cannot go in person, definitely check out this virtual tour.

Photo showing Vishram Ghat, on the Yamuna in Delhi, one of the most populated cities in the world
Vishram Ghat, on the Yamuna at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh – Umang

Delhi, India 🇮🇳

2nd Most Populated City with over 28M

Delhi, the capital of India, is straddling the Yamuna river shown above. Like the Ganges, Hindus worship the Yamuna as a holy place. In fact, to Hindus all water is sacred, especially rivers. The seven sacred rivers are the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri. The metropolis itself goes all the way back to when Delhi functioned as the capital of two major empires. It served both the Delhi sultanate and the Mughal Empire from the early 13th until the mid-19th century. All three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city, the Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, and the Red Fort, stem from this period. Nowadays, the center of power is situated in New Delhi with the Parliament House, Supreme Court, and Rashtrapati Bhavan. Innumerable architectural wonders, parks, and museums as well as teeming markets make the capital of India worth a (virtual) visit.

Photo showing night time Shanghai
Shanghai, China – Rodrigo Argenton

Shanghai, China 🇨🇳

3rd Most Populated City with more than 25M

Shanghai, originally a fishing village and market town, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to its favourable port location. Nowadays, it is one of the four direct-administered municipalities of the People’s Republic of China. Generally, the mention of Shanghai brings about images of ancient architecture juxtaposed with ultra modern buildings teeming with a hive of activity typical for Chinese cities. In fact, Shanghai has become famous for its growth and ever-expanding modern skyline shown in the photo above. It shows how all over China’s biggest city, old buildings are turned into sparkling new high risers. Unfortunately, along with dynamic growth has come heavy pollution. While air quality did improve gradually over recent years, it is still higher than even that of Beijing.

Photo showing Lightening over Sao Paulo in one of the most populated cities in the world
Lightening over Sao Paulo – Flavia Ensiki

Sao Paulo, Brazil

4th Most Populated City with almost 22M

São Paulo is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city, hosting the largest gay pride parade in the world. Indeed, known colloquially as Cidade da Garoa (city of drizzle), the municipality is not a typical tourist destination. This, despite a considerable number of iconic buildings such as its colonial-style Pátio do Colégio church from the time Jesuit priests founded the city in 1554. Other well known examples include its neo-Gothic cathedral and its curvy Edifício Copan by the modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer. A great way to plan a visit and see many of the dispersed landmarks is to use this interactive map. But watch out, São Paulo is infamous for its recurring lightning incidents, as shown in the photo above. So, bring an umbrella when you venture out to explore the city.

Photo showing the Angel of Independence in Mexico City in one of the most populated cities in the world
Angel of Independence, Mexico City – Carlos Valenzuela

Mexico City, Mexico

5th Most Populated City with over 21M

The Spanish built Mexico City on the ruins of the old Aztec capital Tenochtitlan in the 16th century. Today, the Mexican capital is one of the world’s highest altitude metropolitan areas in the world. Furthermore, it is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and around the city. Based on this rich history, the city impresses visitors with its colonial architecture, iconic artwork, spicy cuisine, and cultural heritage. A great example is the golden Angel of Independence in the photo above. It stands proudly erected on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modelled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. If you cannot make it in person, you can always check out the city via this great virtual tour.

Photo showing Cairo as seen from Cairo Tower
Cairo from Cairo Tower – Raduasandei

Cairo, Egypt

6th Most Populated City with over 20M

Present-day Cairo had already been a center of Ancient Egypt during the days of the Old Kingdom around 2700–2200 BC. Thanks to its strategic location at the junction of the Nile shown in the photo above, it served as a major crossing point between North Africa and the Levant. This period is also referred to as the “Age of the Pyramids” for good reason. Consequently, the city became world famous for the Giza Pyramids Complex near by. Of those, the Great Pyramid of pharaoh Khufu is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. A virtual tour is a great way to explore all Cairo and surrounding areas have to offer, should you not be able to travel there in person.

Photo showing the national parliament house in Dhaka
Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, the National Parliament House of Bangladesh –

Dhaka, Bangladesh

7th Most Populated City with about 20M

Dhaka, formerly known as Dacca, is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. The above picture shows the National Parliament House surrounded by 200 acres of gardens in the center of the city. In stark contrast, the city surrounding it is one of the most densely built-up urban area in the world. Once called the Venice of the East, Old Dhaka is home to over 2000 buildings built between the 16th and 19th centuries. Those form an integral part of Dhaka’s cultural heritage. On the other hand, Modern Dhaka is often criticised as a concrete jungle. Albeit, it has some hidden gems from Dhaka’s Mughal and colonial past as well. For those eager to have a look online, we recommend starting with a UNESCO virtual tour of Bangladesh National Museum

Skyline of Tardeo in one of the most populated cities in the world
Skyline of Tardeo as seen from Back Bay – Shaunak Modi

Mumbai, India

8th Most Populated City with about 20M

Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is the commercial capital of India, which has evolved into a global financial hub. The above photo shows the Skyline of Tardeois, an elite residential and commercial locality of South Mumbai. In addition, the city has also become the home of the world’s most prolific film industry. Among popular landmarks, the Sea Link bridge connecting Bendra and Worli stands out as the longest sea bridge in India. Another standout landmark is the city’s Gateway of India. The British erected the arc to mark the landing of the monarchy in India, similar to other symbolic arches around the world such as l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Marble Arch in London.

We hope you had fun guessing. To explore many more exciting locations and hundreds of other categories, download the iOS app “PinPoint Where.”