The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world. Recently the Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto projected that Mumbai, India, will be the biggest city in the world in 2050 with 42.4 million people living there. However, it hedged its prediction by saying that Mumbai won’t be #1 for long. This struck me as wise because no one knows the future. Who could have predicted a worldwide pandemic in 2020?
India has 2 other megalopolises on the Global Cities Institute’s top 10 list, Kolkata and Delhi. Delhi is, in fact, #2 and a candidate for world’s largest city in 2050 when it will be home to more than 36 million people, but according to the World Health Organization, India has had almost 11 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 but only 153,470 deaths. Delhi is known to be choking from poor quality air and a very unhealthy environment. The Indian Government may have to limit growth. The same is true for Mumbai, Kolkata, and other Indian cities that are also experiencing frequent power outages.
China has more than 100 cities with a million or more inhabitants. I remember being shocked to find that one city we went to from Shanghai named Hangzhou had more than 10 million people. I expected it to be much smaller. However, the highly regulated people in China, which is better at limiting population growth in cities than India, is projected to have zero cities in the top ten in 2050.
Wuhan, the suspected source of COVID-19, is among China’s largest cities. It ranks #10 according to chinahighlights.com. This information was updated in January, 2021. There are 7.9 million people living in Wuhan and 11 million in the metro area, which has experienced only 3,869 deaths from COVID-19 so far with new cases declining. Wuhan is like Beijing in that it’s not a coastal city. It’s an inland transportation, high-tech, and education hub on the Yangtze River and a very old city.
David Satterthwaite a Senior Fellow for IIED, the International Institute for Environment and Development, did a study for them that was released in March, 2020. He admitted to not knowing some of the cities he was reporting on like Kenya’s Kiambu. It and other Kenyan cities like Ngong and Ruiru are experiencing rapid population growth. Lagos, Nigeria, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, are already among the candidates for largest in the world for population in 2050. All 5 of these or another African city might become the largest in the world by 2050. Satterthwaite sadly reported that the 3 cities with the largest declines in population at the present time are Detroit, Khulna, a city in Bangladesh, and Aleppo in war-torn Syria.
The worldwide final death toll from COVID-19 is still unknown. The name of and impact on the world of the next pandemic are also not known. All that is certain is that one will happen.