Top 10 Largest Cities in the World by Population

In 2021, our world witnessed unprecedented growth and urbanization, leading to the rapid expansion of cities across the globe. As populations soared, some cities emerged as veritable metropolises, teeming with life, culture, and diversity. This article will explore the ten largest cities by population in 2021, highlighting their unique characteristics and contributions to our global community.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, also known as the Tokyo Metropolis, is a sprawling city serving as Japan’s political, economic, and cultural heart. It is famous for its efficient public transportation system, including the iconic Shinkansen (bullet train). Tokyo is a city of contrasts, where ancient temples and modern skyscrapers stand side by side, offering visitors a glimpse of traditional and contemporary Japan.

  • Efficient and reliable public transportation system
  • Diverse culinary scene, offering world-class sushi and other Japanese delicacies
  • A harmonious blend of traditional culture and cutting-edge technology
  • Safe and clean streets, making it an ideal city for walking and exploring
  • Numerous cultural events and festivals throughout the year, showcasing Japan’s rich heritage.

Tokyo is renowned for its high cost of living. Accommodation, especially in central areas, can be excessive. Daily expenses, such as transportation, dining out, and entertainment, can be relatively pricey. However, residents benefit from excellent public services, efficient transportation, and a high standard of living.

Delhi, India

Delhi, officially known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi, is divided into Old Delhi and New Delhi. Old Delhi is steeped in history, featuring landmarks like the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, while New Delhi houses the country’s government buildings and diplomatic enclaves. The city’s vibrant street markets, such as Chandni Chowk, offer a sensory overload of colors, sounds, and flavors.

  • A treasure trove of historical landmarks, including the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb
  • Vibrant street markets offering an array of colorful textiles, spices, and handicrafts
  • An eclectic mix of cuisines representing different regions of India
  • A thriving arts and entertainment scene, with theaters, music, and dance performances
  • A warm and welcoming culture that embraces visitors with open arms.

Delhi offers a relatively lower living cost than many other global cities. Accommodation and daily expenses are more affordable, making it an attractive option for locals and expatriates. However, the city’s rapid urbanization and population growth have increased the housing and infrastructure development demand.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, a global financial hub, sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River and is China’s largest port city. The city’s rapid growth and modern skyline reflect its emergence as an economic powerhouse. Shanghai Disneyland and the Oriental Pearl Tower are iconic landmarks that draw tourists worldwide.

  • Iconic skyline featuring the futuristic Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai Tower
  • Rich cultural heritage with historical sites like the Yuyuan Garden and Jade Buddha Temple
  • World-class shopping and dining experiences, especially along Nanjing Road and The Bund
  • A dynamic nightlife scene with trendy bars and clubs
  • Opportunities for business and career growth in one of the world’s economic powerhouses.

Shanghai’s cost of living has steadily risen due to its economic growth and urban development. Accommodation costs, especially in popular areas, can be high. However, the city provides a wide range of living standards, from luxurious apartments to more affordable options. Daily expenses can be moderate, with street food and local markets offering budget-friendly choices.

São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo is Brazil’s most populous city and a thriving cultural center. Known for its love of soccer, the city boasts multiple football stadiums, with the Corinthians Arena being one of the largest. São Paulo’s diverse neighborhoods, like Liberdade (home to a large Japanese community), showcase the city’s multicultural identity.

  • A vibrant art and music scene, with numerous galleries and music festivals
  • A melting pot of cultures, evident in its diverse culinary offerings
  • Beautiful parks and green spaces, such as Ibirapuera Park, provide recreational areas for residents
  • Thriving fashion industry and shopping districts like Rua Oscar Freire
  • A city that never sleeps, with lively nightlife and entertainment options.

São Paulo’s cost of living is generally lower than many other major cities. Housing and transportation costs are relatively affordable, and the city provides diverse choices for dining and entertainment. However, healthcare and education expenses may vary depending on individual preferences and requirements.

Mumbai, India

Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the financial capital of India and the center of the country’s film industry, Bollywood. The Gateway of India, Marine Drive, and the famous Dabbawalas (lunchbox delivery system) are some of the city’s highlights. Despite its vibrant energy, Mumbai also faces challenges related to overcrowding and slum areas.

  • Bollywood, the world-renowned film industry, offers a glimpse into Indian cinema and culture.
  • Iconic landmarks like the Gateway of India and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)
  • A bustling street food scene, with a variety of flavorful dishes to savor
  • The seaside charm of Marine Drive perfect for evening strolls and enjoying sunsets
  • Opportunities for diverse career paths and entrepreneurship in the financial capital of India.

Mumbai’s cost of living varies greatly depending on the neighborhood. While some areas offer affordable accommodation and daily expenses, central locations can be quite expensive. As one of the financial hubs of India, the city provides a wide array of amenities and services catering to various income levels.

Beijing, China

As China’s political, cultural, and educational center, Beijing is a city steeped in history and tradition. The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven are among its most famous landmarks. Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, which brought global attention to its impressive infrastructure and architectural wonders.

  • The Great Wall of China, one of the world’s most iconic and awe-inspiring architectural wonders
  • A rich history and cultural heritage reflected in the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven
  • Diverse and delectable Chinese cuisine, from Peking duck to regional specialties
  • The modern and efficient subway system making transportation within the city convenient
  • A vibrant arts scene, with traditional Chinese opera and contemporary art galleries.

Beijing’s cost of living has increased over the years as it has developed into a global city. Accommodation in prime areas can be costly, but less expensive options can be found in suburban neighborhoods. Daily expenses like food and transportation can be reasonable, offering a range of choices to suit different budgets.

Cairo, Egypt

One of the world’s oldest cities, Cairo is an archaeological treasure trove. The Giza Necropolis, housing the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last remaining ancient wonder of the world, is a testament to the city’s ancient heritage. Modern Cairo combines traditional markets (souks) with contemporary developments along the Nile River.

  • The Pyramids of Giza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
  • Historic landmarks like the Sphinx, Egyptian Museum, and Cairo Citadel
  • A bustling souk culture offering an authentic shopping experience for textiles, spices, and crafts
  • The beautiful Nile River provides scenic cruises and leisure activities
  • Warm and friendly locals, eager to share their culture and traditions with visitors.

Cairo generally offers a lower living cost than many other major cities. Accommodation and daily expenses, including food and transportation, are relatively affordable. The city’s unique charm lies in its modern and traditional living mix, making it an appealing choice for residents and tourists.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka, situated along the banks of the Buriganga River, is known for its vibrant markets and bustling street life. The Lalbagh Fort and the centuries-old Pink Palace (Ahsan Manzil) are among its historical landmarks. The city’s rapid urbanization poses infrastructure and environmental sustainability challenges.

  • A rich history and architectural heritage, seen in places like Lalbagh Fort and Ahsan Manzil
  • Traditional Bengali cuisine, featuring mouthwatering dishes like biryani and hilsa fish
  • Colorful and vibrant festivals celebrating cultural diversity, such as Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year)
  • An emerging hub for technology and entrepreneurship, offering new opportunities for business ventures
  • A city with a strong sense of community, where hospitality and kindness are valued.

Dhaka’s cost of living is relatively low, making it an affordable city for many. Accommodation and daily expenses are budget-friendly, attracting a diverse population seeking economic opportunities. However, rapid urbanization has also led to challenges in infrastructure development and managing the needs of a growing population.

Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan’s economic powerhouse, is a city of contrasts and opportunities. Its diverse neighborhoods are a reflection of the country’s multicultural society. Karachi’s famous Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum and Clifton Beach are popular attractions for locals and tourists alike.

  • The vibrant and picturesque Clifton Beach, providing a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle
  • A melting pot of cultures, reflected in its diverse architecture, traditions, and food
  • A thriving arts and music scene, with numerous galleries and music events
  • Opportunities for business and commerce, making Karachi an economic hub in Pakistan
  • A city that celebrates its love for cricket, with passionate fans and international matches.

Karachi provides a relatively low cost of living compared to other megacities. Accommodation costs can vary significantly, with cheaper options available in suburban areas. Daily expenses, including food and transportation, are generally affordable, making Karachi an appealing destination for many seeking an urban lifestyle.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, has a rich history that spans over two millennia. It boasts iconic landmarks like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. As the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia, Istanbul’s unique position makes it a fascinating blend of cultures and influences.

  • A rich history and cultural legacy, with architectural gems like the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque
  • Breathtaking views of the Bosphorus strait, connecting Europe and Asia
  • A lively and bustling Grand Bazaar, offering a wide array of traditional Turkish products
  • Turkish hospitality, with locals known for their warmth and friendliness towards visitors
  • A vibrant nightlife with trendy bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Istanbul’s cost of living has gradually increased due to its growing popularity as a tourist and expatriate destination. Accommodation costs vary based on location and amenities. While some areas may be pricey, others offer more affordable living options. The city provides a rich cultural experience alongside modern amenities.


In conclusion, the ten largest cities in the world by population in 2021 offer a kaleidoscope of experiences, from ancient historical sites to modern metropolises. Each city’s distinct characteristics contribute to the rich tapestry of human civilization, shaping the global narrative and promising a future of endless possibilities.

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