When it comes to population density—the number of people per square mile—some cities really push the envelope. Here are some of the world’s most overcrowded cities, as per the ‘Demographia World Urban Areas’ list for 2016...
Dhaka, Bangladesh, Population: 1,62,35,000 ,Density: 1,14,300 per square mile
One of just two cities more crowded than Santa Cruz del Isolte in Colombia, the world’s most densely populated island, Dhaka doesn’t feature on too many travel itineraries. It’s a regular on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual ranking of the world’s “least liveable cities” (it came second in 2014). Space is getting even tighter—it’s also among the world’s 20 fastest growing.
Hyderabad, Pakistan, Population: 29,90,000, Density: 1,06,800 per square mile
Not to be confused with Hyderabad of India, which has more to offer travellers, this is the sixth largest city in Pakistan. It sits on the bank of the Indus river and it’s hot, with a desert climate that sees average highs of 28 degrees Celsius in winter and 41 degrees Celsius in summer.
Vijayawada, India,Population: 17,75,000,Density: 80,700 per square mile
A little-known suburb of Amaravati in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada as been touted as a “global city of the future”—its GDP is expected to grow to $17 billion by 2025 (up from $3 billion in 2010, as per reports). The city forms a part of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region and the headquarters of Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority is located in the city.
Chittagong, Bangladesh, Population: 32,50,000, Density: 75,600 per square mile
Another city that’s unlikely to attract many holidaymakers, the port of Chittagong has been a key trading hub for centuries and was a major base for the Allies during the ‘Burma campaign’ in the second World War.
Mumbai, India, Population: 2,28,85,000, Density: 67,300 per square mile
Mumbai is the most populous city in India and, along with the neighbouring regions of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world and the second most populous metropolitan area in India. In 2009, Mumbai was named an alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in south, west or central Asia. Mumbai has the highest number of billionaires and millionaires among all cities in India.
Hong Kong, Population: 72,80,000, Density: 66,200 per square mile
It may be busy, but Hong Kong’s mix of feng shui and finance, trams and temples makes it one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Hong Kong is renowned for its deep natural harbour, which enables ready access by international cargo ships, and its skyline, with a very high density of skyscrapers; the territory boasts the second largest number of highrises of any city in the world. It has a very high Human Development Index ranking and the world’s longest life expectancy.
Aligarh, India, Population: 10,50,000, Density: 65,600 per square mile
Another Indian city on the list, Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh is only the 55th largest city in the country—but one of the most crowded. It is notable as the seat of Aligarh Muslim University, one of the oldest central universities in the country.
Macau Population: 6,55,000, Density: 65,500 per, square mile
It was one of the first ports of call for Portuguese merchants and missionaries in the 16th century, and later became a fully fledged, if somewhat lackadaisical, colony. Handed back to China in 1999, it has since reinvented itself as the region’s gambling capital.
Hama, Syria, Population: 13,00,000, Density: 65,000 per square mile
Completing the top 10 are two cities you definitely shouldn’t visit. Hama in Syria is one of them. Hama is its fourth largest city after Aleppo, Damascus and Homs. In the last decades, the city has become known as a centre of the anti-Ba’ath opposition in Syria.
Mogadishu, Somalia, Population: 22,65,000, Density: 64,700 per square mile
Also off-limits is Mogadishu. Known locally as Hamar, it is the capital and most populous city of Somalia, a country in the ‘Horn of Africa’. Located in the Banaadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for millennia.