This is a post of the ten top megacities of the future by Mark Lewis and published by Forbes. I copy-pasted the slideshow/article below in case the link does not work in the future. It’s too good to be missed! Learn what cities in Asia and Latin America are flourishing and what the future looks like for these megacities. Visit Forbes for full slideshow.
In 1900, the world’s largest city was London, which did not even qualify as a megacity. (The threshold for that dubious distinction is 10 million people; London had 6.5 million that year.) Every city in the top 10 that year was in Europe or America, with one exception: Tokyo, then the world’s seventh-largest city, with 1.5 million people. Today, Greater Tokyo tops the megacity list with a population of 35.2 million. In 2015, it will retain the pole position with 35.5 million, according to United Nations population projections. But Tokyo’s growth rate is slowing. The demographic future belongs to cities like Mumbai, Shanghai and Dhaka.
#1. Tokyo, Japan
Projected Population in 2015: 35.5 million
Population in 2005: 35.2 million
Originally called Edo, this city did not amount to much until 1603, when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made it his home. After Japan’s Meiji Restoration in 1868, the emperor moved in and changed the name to Tokyo. The city was devastated by an earthquake in 1923 and by U.S. bombers in 1945. Despite these setbacks, and despite the damage inflicted by Godzilla in numerous films, Tokyo eventually surpassed New York to become the world’s biggest city–a title it will retain at least until 2015.
#2. Mumbai, India
Projected Population in 2015: 21.9 million
Population in 2005: 18.2 million
The city’s previous name, Bombay, was discarded as a relic of colonialism. But Mumbai itself is very much a relic of the colonial era. The land it occupies was ceded to Portugal by an Indian potentate in 1534, and then passed to Great Britain in 1661. Under British rule, Bombay developed into a major metropolis. Today, vibrant Mumbai is India’s commercial and entertainment capital.
#3. Mexico City, Mexico
Projected Population in 2015: 21.6 million
Population in 2005: 19.4 million
Mexico’s capital sprawls over the site of Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire, which fell to the conquistador Hernan Cortes in 1521. A more recent disaster was the major earthquake that struck in 1985. This massive metropolis is Mexico’s capital in every sense–political, financial and cultural. Built over a lake bed, the city is slowly sinking as it sucks water from the aquifer beneath it to slake the thirst of its teeming millions.
#4. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Projected Population in 2015: 20.5 million
Population in 2005: 18.3 million
Sao Paulo is a megacity created by coffee. Founded in 1554 by Jesuit missionaries, it grew to prominence in the 19th century thanks to its location in the heart of Brazil’s richest coffee-growing region. Now, it’s a financial center with a notably diverse population. In Sao Paulo, people of Italian descent outnumber people of Portuguese descent, and the cosmopolitan ethnic mix includes many people whose ancestors came from Japan, Lebanon or Africa.
#5. New York, United States
Projected Population in 2015: 19.9 million
Population in 2005: 18.7 million
The New York metropolitan area constituted the world’s first megacity, passing the 10 million mark by 1950. It was founded during the 1620s as New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony that soon passed to British control. The key to its 19th-century growth was the Erie Canal, completed in 1825, which funneled commerce from America’s interior to the Hudson River. These days, New York no longer is the world’s busiest port, but it remains America’s finance and media capital.
#6. Delhi, India
Projected Population in 2015: 18.6 million
Population in 2005: 15 million
Delhi was the capital of the Mughal emperors, whose Red Fort still broods over the center of the city. The British took over in 1857 and later built the New Delhi government complex, which has served as India’s capital since independence. Mumbai may have Bollywood, and Bangalore may style itself India’s Silicon Valley, but Delhi still exudes the old imperial glamour. As a seat of power, it has been attracting migrants for centuries, and they’re still coming today.
#7. Shanghai, China
Projected Population in 2015: 17.2 million
Population in 2005: 14.5 million
Shanghai was diverted from obscurity in 1842, when China lost the First Opium War and was forced to open several ports to foreign exploitation. Thanks to its location near the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai prospered mightily and grew into China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city: “The Paris of the East.” The foreigners fled in 1949 when the Communists took over, but in recent years, Shanghai has reclaimed its former stature as a financial and industrial behemoth.
#8. Calcutta, India
Projected Population in 2015: 17 million
Population in 2005: 14.3 million
Calcutta was founded in 1690 by the British East India Company, and it later prospered as a port from which the British shipped opium to China. Under the British, Calcutta was India’s capital and largest city. These days, it is neither. Its main claim to fame (other than its enormous population) is its predilection for electing communists to run its municipal government. Being true believers, they haven’t done nearly as well with their economy as have the lapsed communists who run Shanghai.
#9. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Projected Population in 2015: 15.2 million
Population in 2005: 12.4 million
Along with five other megacities on this list, Dhaka was associated with a part of the British Empire. (The others are Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Delhi and Calcutta.) Earlier, Dhaka had belonged to the Mughal Empire; nowadays, it’s the capital of Bangladesh, a Muslim nation that used to be part of Pakistan. (Pakistan’s current largest city, Karachi, fell just short of this Top 10, coming in at No. 12.)
#10. Jakarta, Indonesia
Projected Population in 2015: 16.8 million
Population in 2005: 13.2 million
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. A port city on the heavily populated island of Java, it has been ruled at various times by Hindu kings, Muslim sultans, Dutch imperialists (who called it Batavia and made it the capital of the Dutch East Indies) and Japanese generals, who conquered it during World War II. Like many coastal megacities, Jakarta will be vulnerable to flooding if global warming raises the sea levels.