The incredible size and activity of urban areas in the developing world is hard for Westerners to comprehend.
The sheer size of the developing world can be difficult to fully appreciate from afar. New York City, imagined by many Americans to be the ultimate ““big city” doesn’t even crack the global top 20, falling behind several booming areas in developing markets. Beyond the size of the populations, many of the major developing cities are astounding in their density.
Below is a look at five of the most crowded major cities in the developing world compared to U.S. equivalents in terms of population and area.
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of West Bengal. The city is home to nearly 4.5 million people — which makes it bigger than every U.S. city besides New York, is but only the seventh-largest city proper in India.
This population is consolidated into approximately 77 square miles, resulting in a density of about 63,000 people per square mile.
U.S. Equivalent: Population of Kentucky in an area slightly larger than Brooklyn.
Caloocan is one of 16 cities that makes up the area known as Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The city is home to nearly 1.5 million people, which would make it the seventh-largest city in the United States (just ahead of San Antonio).
This population lives in just over 21 square miles. (San Antonio is spread across about 461 square miles.)
U.S. Equivalent: Combined populations of New Orleans, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Tampa in an area the size of Erie, Pennsylvania.
With a population of approximately 12.5 million, Mumbai is the most populous city in what will eventually become the world’s most populous country. The city would be the seventh-largest state in the U.S., sandwiched between Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The metropolitan area is approximately 233 square miles (compared to 46,000 square miles for Pennsylvania).
U.S. Equivalent: Combined populations of Wisconsin and Massachusetts in an area the size of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Dhaka is home to 14.4 million people, which is the approximate combined total of West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.
The city’s total area is about 315 square miles, which makes it about a quarter the size of Rhode Island.
U.S. Equivalent: Combined populations of Illinois and Idaho in an area the size of Kansas City.
Manila is one of the densest cities globally; a population of 1.7 million lives in an area that is less than 15 square miles. That translates into 111,000 people per square mile, making the city about 60 percent more densely populated than Manhattan (which has a similar population spread over 23 square miles).
U.S. Equivalent: Combined populations of San Francisco and Jacksonville in an area the size of Lowell, Massachusetts.
Want to share with your followers? Here’s a shareable summary graphic.
About the Author: Michael Johnston
Michael Johnston is senior analyst for All Emerging Markets, and also serves as COO of parent company Poseidon Financial. His investment expertise has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and USA Today, among other publications. He resides in Chicago.