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From left: Tokyo, Shanghai, Mexico City, Mumbai, New York City. Photos: AP. Collage by Erica Pandey / Axios

As of 1975, there were three metro areas with at least 10 million people — Tokyo, New York and Mexico City. A list of the 10 largest cities at that time would have included Paris (now 25th), Moscow (22nd) and Los Angeles (21st). Now there are 31 megacities with at least 10 million people, and most of them are in the developing world. The UN projects 10 more will join the list by 2030, and all but one (Bogotá) is in Africa or Asia.

The Big Picture: 518 million people (7% of the global population) now live in megacities of 10 million or more people. That's a tenfold increase from four decades ago, and it's radically changing the way people live, work and view the world.

The world's largest metro areas
Tokyo, Japan. 38 million
  • At a glance: Japan's capital is major international financial center and has the biggest economy of any global metro area. Tokyo's restaurants have by far the most Michelin stars of any city.
  • GDP per capita: $43,884
  • Population in 1975: 27 million (Rank: 1st)
New Delhi, India. 26 million
  • At a glance: India's capital has been inhabited for at least 2,500 years, and boasts multiple world heritage sites. Its growing economy draws significant foreign investment. It is also one of the world's most polluted cities.
  • GDP per capita: $16,861
  • Population in 1975: 4.4 million (Rank: Outside top 10)
Shanghai, China. 26 million
  • At a glance: Shanghai is the world's biggest shipping port and China's financial hub. As the Economist writes, it is in the midst of a "cultural transformation."
  • GDP per capita: $32,684
  • Population in 1975: 7.3 million (Rank: Outside top 10)
Sao Paulo, Brazil. 21 million
  • At a glance: A diverse, cosmopolitan city, Sao Paulo has the biggest economy of any city in Latin America, though it lacks the glamour of nearby Rio de Janeiro.
  • GDP per capita: $27,366
  • Population in 1975: 13 million (Rank: 5th)
Mumbai, India. 21 million
  • At a glance: India's financial capital is also the home of the Bollywood film industry. 41 billionaires live in Mumbai, but more than half of the population resides in slums.
  • GDP per capita: $10,147
  • Population in 1975: 7.1 million (Rank: Outside top 10)
Mexico City, Mexico. 21 million
  • At a glance: Mexico's sprawling capital city was first settled by the Aztecs. It's the center of Mexico's politics and economy.
  • GDP per capita: $23,017
  • Population in 1975: 11 million (Rank: 3rd)
Beijing, China. 20 million
  • At a glance: China's capital city is home to many cultural landmarks, including the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven. It's home to 52 Fortune Global 500 companies, the most of any city. Air pollution is a significant concern.
  • GDP per capita: $30,335
  • Population in 1975: 6 million (Rank: Outside top 10)
Osaka, Japan. 20 million
  • At a glance: Historically the center of Japanese cuisine and commerce, Osaka is less flashy than Tokyo but has one of the largest economies of any city in the world.
  • GDP per capita: $36,335
  • Population in 1975: 10 million (Rank: 4th)
Cairo, Egypt. 19 million
  • At a glance: An ancient city with some of the world's most impressive Islamic architecture, Egypt's capital also has a bustling metro system. It was the site of the Tahrir Square protests in 2011.
  • GDP per capita: $7,843
  • Population in 1975: 6 million (Rank: Outside top 10)
New York, USA. 19 million
  • At a glance: A global center of finance and the arts, New York has been the largest U.S. city since the country's first census and was the world's largest for some of the 20th century. It is home to the United Nations.
  • GDP per capita: $74,000
  • Population in 1975: 16 million (Rank: 2nd)
Key trends
  • Of the world's 31 megacities, 6 are in China and 5 are in India. By 2030, both countries will have 7 megacities.
  • There will be 8 cities with ~25 million or more people by 2030 — we may soon need a new definition for what qualifies as a megacity.
  • Six of the world's 10 largest cities are in Asia. Zero are in Europe.

Worth noting: Estimates of urban populations vary widely, mainly because the boundaries and definitions used can be subjective. All of the population data cited above comes from the United Nations.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
8 hours ago - Economy & Business

Trump's volatile return to the stock market

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals 

Donald Trump this week became both a meme stock and a social-media entrepreneur at the same time, by announcing that a new company called Trump Media & Technology Group was going to merge with an existing company listed on the stock market.

Why it matters: The medium-term promise of Trump's media company is that it will replace Twitter for anybody wanting to keep track of Trump's messages. The short-term promise is that it can be a hot new speculative vehicle for people wanting to get rich quick in the stock market.