At the beginning of a chapter called “Moscow is Not Russia”, Ben Judah discussed megacities and made me think. He used London and Moscow as examples of cities that dominate their countries economically and culturally. It’s as if other population centers in Great Britain and Russia don’t count. London and Moscow dominate. I agree with London. What other cities in Great Britain have the importance of London? But I don’t especially agree with Moscow, which Judah calls the 3rd most expensive city in the world and home to more billionaires than any other city. What about St. Petersburg and the 10 other cities in Russia with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants? Moscow did, according to Judah, account for about 22% of Russian GDP at the time he wrote Fragile Empire.
I brainstormed megacities and came up with several that are like London and Moscow. Cities that dominate their countries include Bangkok and Stockholm. Name another city in Thailand as influential and important as Bangkok. I looked up the 20 largest cities in the world now, and 6 of them fit Judah’s description of megacities. They are London, Seoul, Lagos, Buenos Aires, Manila, and Istanbul. If you expand the list to 30 cities you can include Moscow, Russia, which currently has a population of about 12,000,000. However, if you look up growth models like the Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto has to find the projected largest cities in the world in 2050, only Lagos, Nigeria, is still among the top ten as are 3 cities in India–Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai. Lagos, a true megacity already, does dominate other Nigerian population centers, but the 3 Indian cities, in my opinion, are of equal importance.
The Global Cities Institute reports that Mexico City will be the largest city in the world in 2050 with more than 24 million people. It projects that Mumbai, India, will be #1 for a time but not for long.