One concept which measures the world's largest cities is that of the metropolitan area, which is based on the concept of a labor market area and is typically defined as an employment core (an area with a high density of available jobs) and the surrounding areas that have strong commuting ties to the core. There is currently no generally accepted, globally consistent definition of exactly what constitutes a metropolitan area, thus making comparisons between cities in different countries especially difficult.

One attempt at arriving at a consistently defined metropolitan area concept is the definition involve delineating the urban area as the core, then adding surrounding communities that meet two criteria: (1) Less than 35% of the resident workforce must be engaged in agriculture or fishing; and (2) At least 20% of the working residents commute to the urban core.

This list is tabulated based on these consistently defined metropolitan area criteria. As population figures are interpreted and presented differently according to different methods of data collection, definitions and sources, these numbers should be viewed as approximate. Data from other sources may be equally valid but differ due to being measured according to different criteria or taken from different census years.

List[edit | edit source]

Rank Metropolitan area Country Population Notes
1 Seoul Korea Flag Small.png Korea 25,620,000
2 Jakarta Indonesia Flag Small.png Indonesia 23,308,500
3 East Tokyo East Japan Flag Small.png East Japan 21,406,950
4 Mexico City Mexico Flag Small.png Mexico 20,137,152
5 London Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 19,963,691
6 São Paulo Brazil Flag Small.png Brazil 19,956,590
7 Delhi Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 16,315,115
8 Hong Kong Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 15,800,000
9 Bombay Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 15,588,296
10 Moscow Soviet Flag Small.png Soviet Union 15,000,000
11 Osaka West Japan Flag Small.png West Japan 14,996,700
12 Shanghai ROC Flag Small.png Republic of China 14,985,000
13 Bangkok Thailand Flag Small.png Thailand 14,565,520
14 Cairo Egypt Flag Small.png Egypt 14,450,000
15 Istanbul Turkey Flag Small.png Turkey 14,160,467
16 Tehran Iran Flag Small.png Iran 13,828,365
17 Calcutta Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 13,156,094
18 Rhine-Ruhr Germany Flag Small.png Germany 12,617,000
19 New York UAPR Flag Small.png UAPR 12,550,494
20 Peking PRC Flag Small.png People's Republic of China 12,500,000
21 Manila Philippines Flag Small.png Philippines 11,855,975
22 Rio de Janeiro Brazil Flag Small.png Brazil 11,846,530
23 Buenos Aires Argentina Flag Small.png Argentina 11,521,227
24 Dacca Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 11,517,655
25 Toronto Canada Flag Small.png Canada 11,166,128
26 Karachi Britain Flag Small.png British Empire 10,620,000
27 Paris France Flag Small.png France 10,413,386
28 Lima Peru Flag Small.png Peru 9,735,587
29 Los Angeles UAPR Flag Small.png UAPR 9,410,159
30 Bogotá Colombia Flag Small.png Colombia 9,023,644
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