Largest Metro Areas in the World 2024

A metropolitan area is a region consisting of a densely populated urban nucleus and less-populated surrounding areas under the same administrative division. The population center and surrounding areas have a high economic and social integration, share industry, infrastructure, and housing.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), overall population growth has been strongest in larger metropolitan areas. Those with over 1 million people grew .5% faster per year than smaller metro areas. Metro areas with over 5 million inhabitants grew the fastest. The number o metro areas with more than 5 million people doubled within 25 years.

The growth of metropolitan areas should come as no surprise, as urbanization rates are high globally. About 68% of the world is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. People are drawn to cities because of job markets and promises of higher incomes. Additionally, the mass adoption of the internet, related technologies, and the need for innovation through collaboration have drawn millennials to move to cities.

Large metropolitan areas are not without their problems. In the U.S., all large metro areas face racial segregation, concentrations of poverty, lack of affordable housing, poor schools, high crime rates, and more. Additionally, overcrowding leads to increased traffic, more pollution, power and energy shortages, issues with sanitation, and overall increases in cost of living.

Largest Metropolitan Areas in the World

Most of the world’s largest metro areas are located in Asia. Most of the 20 largest metro areas are growing faster than other metro areas, growing an average of 29% between 2000 and 2015.

Two United States metro areas are among the 20 largest globally: New York-Newark and Los Angeles. New York-Newark has over 19.5 million people, and Los Angeles has over 15.7 million.

The ten largest metro areas in the world are:

The Greater Tokyo Area consists of Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures: Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa. The metro area is home to about 30% of Japan’s total population.

Delhi’s metro area is part of an even larger region called the National Capital Region (NCR), which encompasses Delhi and several surrounding districts. The NCR has a population of over 46 million and a 62.6% urbanization rate.