The 10 Largest Cities in the World by Surface Area

Living in a big city offers billions of advantages: better jobs, more options for entertainment, and the greatest advantage of being able to shop in your pajamas because: “nobody knows me anyway “. Not to underestimate the exponential increase in the opportunities for towing, which is not a small thing.

But which are the largest cities in the world? Giving a certain and unambiguous answer is practically impossible because each nation uses different criteria to determine city borders. That’s why we’ve decided to present two classifications:┬áthe first takes into account the “built-up urban areas” (urban agglomerations that also include suburbs) and the second is limited to “real administrative cities”. Let’s check them out!

The Largest Urban Areas in the World

Usually, “urban area” refers to the set of contiguous buildings that make up a city, but which very often extend beyond the municipal boundaries, including any agglomerated suburbs.

It should be noted that this definition is not univocal since each nation uses different criteria for delimiting the borders of the various urban areas. Some nations rely on the presence of urban features such as paved roads, electric lighting, sewerage, while others take into account the population density or the percentage of commuters to the center.

Furthermore, the concept of an urban area often overlaps with that of a metropolitan area creating further confusion. Unlike the urban area, the metropolitan area is usually officially recognized by the local government and includes primary commuter areas even if they are not strictly contiguous.

Now, let’s see which are the largest urban areas in the world!

City Extension Inhabitants Density
New York (USA) 11,875 sq km 21,575,000 1,700 inhabitants per sq km
Boston-Providence, Massachusetts (USA) 9,189 sq km 7,315,000 800 inhabitants per sq km
Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan 8,547 sq km 38,050,000 4,500 inhabitants per sq km
Atlanta, Georgia (USA) 7,296 sq km 5,325,000 600 inhabitants per sq km
Chicago, Illinois (USA) 6,856 sq km 9,160,000 1,300 inhabitants per sq km
Los Angeles, California (USA) 6,299 sq km 15,620,000 2,300 inhabitants per sq km
Mosk Russia 5,698 sq km 16,855,000 3,000 inhabitants per sq km
Dallas, Texas (USA) 5,175 sq km 6,600,000 1,100 inhabitants per sq km
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) 5,131 sq km 5,575,000 1,100 inhabitants per sq km
Houston, Texas (USA) 4,841 sq km 6,285,000 1,100 inhabitants per sq km

The Largest Administrative Cities in the World

City Extension Inhabitants Density
Beijing, China 16,801.25 sq km 21,516,000 1.280,61 inhabitants per sq km
Sydney, Australia 12,367.7 sq km 5,230,330 422.90 inhabitants per sq km
Shanghai, China 6,340.5 sq km 24,750,000 3,903 inhabitants per sq km
Brasilia, Brazil 5,780 sq km 3,919,864 678.17 inhabitants per sq km
Chongqing, China 5,467 sq km 17,900,000 3.274 inhabitants per sq km
Istanbul, Turkey 5,343 sq km 13,520,000 2,530 inhabitants per sq km
Karachi, Pakistan 3,527 sq km 14,910,352 4,227 inhabitants per sq km
Shenyang, China 3,495 sq km 6,255,921 1,789 inhabitants per sq km
Hanoi, Vietnam 3,358.9 sq km 6,844,100 2.037 inhabitants per sq km
Pyongyang, North Korea 3,194 sq km 3,255,388 1,019 inhabitants per sq km

By “real city” we refer to the set of buildings delimited by administrative boundaries (legal or political). In the case of actual cities, urban status is administratively recognized by some form of local government.

Now, let’s take a look at the largest administrative cities in the world!