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.


Rank Metropolitan area Country Population Notes
1SeoulKorea Flag Small Korea25,620,000
2JakartaIndonesia Flag Small Indonesia23,308,500
3East TokyoEast Japan Flag Small East Japan21,406,950
4Mexico CityMexico Flag Small Mexico20,137,152
5LondonBritain Flag Small British Empire19,963,691
6São PauloBrazil Flag Small Brazil19,956,590
7DelhiBritain Flag Small British Empire16,315,115
8Hong KongBritain Flag Small British Empire15,800,000
9BombayBritain Flag Small British Empire15,588,296
10MoscowSoviet Flag Small Soviet Union15,000,000
11OsakaWest Japan Flag Small West Japan14,996,700
12ShanghaiROC Flag Small Republic of China14,985,000
13BangkokThailand Flag Small Thailand14,565,520
14CairoEgypt Flag Small Egypt14,450,000
15IstanbulTurkey Flag Small Turkey14,160,467
16TehranIran Flag Small Iran13,828,365
17CalcuttaBritain Flag Small British Empire13,156,094
18Rhine-RuhrGermany Flag Small Germany12,617,000
19New YorkUAPR Flag Small UAPR12,550,494
20PekingPRC Flag Small People's Republic of China12,500,000
21ManilaPhilippines Flag Small Philippines11,855,975
22Rio de JaneiroBrazil Flag Small Brazil11,846,530
23Buenos AiresArgentina Flag Small Argentina11,521,227
24DaccaBritain Flag Small British Empire11,517,655
25TorontoCanada Flag Small Canada11,166,128
26KarachiBritain Flag Small British Empire10,620,000
27ParisFrance Flag Small France10,413,386
28LimaPeru Flag Small Peru9,735,587
29Los AngelesUAPR Flag Small UAPR9,410,159
30BogotáColombia Flag Small Colombia9,023,644
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