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25 Awe-Inspiring Images of Megacities across The Globe

Themed Collections

24 October 2017

Posted by Philip Mowbray

As of 2017 there are 37 megacities in the world, a classification usually given when the population of a large city or urban area exceeds that of 10 million. Megacities act like powerful magnets; they draw people in from all walks of life, especially those in search of something greater, be it wealth, prosperity or acceptance. The megacities of the developed world are often considered to be the best places to live and visit; they play a vital role in the global economy, are highly influential on a political scale, provide unlimited opportunities and are at the heart of culture, art, music and fashion. The top 4 most powerful cities in the world (London, New York, Tokyo and Paris), as classified by the Global Power City Index (GPCI) are all megacities.

On the other hand, the megacities of the developing world are often ranked some of the worst places to live on Earth, and are commonly at the mercy of problems such as overpopulation, exhausted infrastructure, poor sanitation and high crime rates. According to the United Nations, in some megacities (such as Mumbai) the number of inhabitants living in slums can be up to 50%.

Each megacity is one-of-a-kind; they are fascinating, terrifying, inspirational and awe-inspiring. Here are 25 stunning images of the world's megacities, as photographed by Picfair's global network of visual artists, showing the sheer scale and diversity of Earth’s most densely populated areas. Approximately 7% of the world's population currently live in megacities. As urbanisation increases across the globe, the number of megacities will undoubtedly double over the next 50 years.

Shanghai (population 25.2 million) usually isn't blessed with amazingly clear skies; a mix of pollution, low-hanging clouds and haze coming in from the sea often bury the city u... Read more

Shanghai (population 25.2 million) usually isn't blessed with amazingly clear skies; a mix of pollution, low-hanging clouds and haze coming in from the sea often bury the city under a muddy, grey layer of visibility-eliminating clouds. But then comes summer and with it rain and thunderstorms, after which for just a little bit you get skies and sunsets so beautiful they make you hope that one day the Chinese government gets at least the pollution under control. Read less

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Chris Petersen-Clausen

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Life on the water in one of the floating slums of Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos (population 21 million) is the largest megalopolis in Africa. Like many other megacities in the develo... Read more

Life on the water in one of the floating slums of Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos (population 21 million) is the largest megalopolis in Africa. Like many other megacities in the developing world, the city is plagued by a crippling shortage of quality housing. Read less

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Paul Harrison

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The majestic domes and minarets of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey (population 14.8 million) are seen through a layer of fog on a hazy afternoon. Istanbul; bold, cosmopolit... Read more

The majestic domes and minarets of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey (population 14.8 million) are seen through a layer of fog on a hazy afternoon. Istanbul; bold, cosmopolitan and complex is the only megacity to uniquely straddle both the European and Asian continents. Read less

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Levent Arslan

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An alternative view of the Los Angeles (population 18.7 million) skyline at dusk, as seen from behind the world famous 'Hollywood' sign. Los Angeles is the second megacity of t... Read more

An alternative view of the Los Angeles (population 18.7 million) skyline at dusk, as seen from behind the world famous 'Hollywood' sign. Los Angeles is the second megacity of the United States, having seen a tremendous rate of growth during the late 20th century. During the 1970s Los Angeles was the fastest growing city in the world. Read less

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View down a typical Manhattan street on a blustery winter's day. New York City is America's largest megacity with a population of over 20 million in its metropolitan area. It... Read more

View down a typical Manhattan street on a blustery winter's day. New York City is America's largest megacity with a population of over 20 million in its metropolitan area. It is also considered, as of 2017, the most important city in the global economic system. Read less

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Sven Hartmann

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Greater Jakarta, Indonesia is the most populous megacity in the developing world. The modern city began as a Dutch colonial outpost and in 1900 had a modest population of 115,0... Read more

Greater Jakarta, Indonesia is the most populous megacity in the developing world. The modern city began as a Dutch colonial outpost and in 1900 had a modest population of 115,000 (when Jakarta was known by its colonial name; Batavia), whereas the present day population is estimated to be a staggering 31 million. Read less

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Mukti Ariawan

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The urban cityscape of Mexico City at sunset. Latin America's largest megacity (population 21.3 million) is world famous for its sky-high air pollution rates, leading the city ... Read more

The urban cityscape of Mexico City at sunset. Latin America's largest megacity (population 21.3 million) is world famous for its sky-high air pollution rates, leading the city to ban cars on Saturdays in an attempt to curb pollutants from traffic congestion. Read less

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Jose

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Compact living quarters; residential tower blocks in the megacity of Chongqing, China. Chongqing, often referred to as 'the megacity you've never heard of' is just one of China... Read more

Compact living quarters; residential tower blocks in the megacity of Chongqing, China. Chongqing, often referred to as 'the megacity you've never heard of' is just one of China's many emerging megacities, having grown exponentially over the last 20 years. In 2014 the city grew by 4,000 people each week. Read less

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The land of towers and concrete; Tokyo, Japan is the world's original megacity with a population of (37.8 million). It is the largest city in the world and also considered one o... Read more

The land of towers and concrete; Tokyo, Japan is the world's original megacity with a population of (37.8 million). It is the largest city in the world and also considered one of the most important centres for finance, politics and culture. This photograph puts into perspective the immense urban landscape of metropolitan Tokyo, with buildings as far as the eye can see. Read less

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A fisherman in front of the skyscrapers of the Malabar Hills in Mumbai (population 18.4 million). India's largest megacity is also the country's commercial centre, having grown... Read more

A fisherman in front of the skyscrapers of the Malabar Hills in Mumbai (population 18.4 million). India's largest megacity is also the country's commercial centre, having grown rapidly due to successive waves of mass-migration. Read less

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A calm scene inside the Moscow Metro during a quiet period, a world away from the rush-hour where trains arrive and depart every 30 seconds. Moscow is the second most populous... Read more

A calm scene inside the Moscow Metro during a quiet period, a world away from the rush-hour where trains arrive and depart every 30 seconds. Moscow is the second most populous city in Europe with over 12 million inhabitants, it is also one of the largest migrant cities in the world. The Moscow Metro is at the heart of the city, with almost 10 million journeys made by Muscovites per day. Read less

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Ben Broomfield

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Quezon Boulevard in Manila (population 12 million). The capital of the Philippines is the most densely populated city in the world with over 46,000 people per square mile.

Quezon Boulevard in Manila (population 12 million). The capital of the Philippines is the most densely populated city in the world with over 46,000 people per square mile. Read less

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A colourful street scene in New Delhi; India's cultural and political hub and home to over 21 million people.

A colourful street scene in New Delhi; India's cultural and political hub and home to over 21 million people. Read less

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Wilfred Seefeld

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A cafe owner tends to her barbecue on the outskirts of Beijing (population 21.5 million), China. An alternative scene from one the world's largest megacities and away from the ... Read more

A cafe owner tends to her barbecue on the outskirts of Beijing (population 21.5 million), China. An alternative scene from one the world's largest megacities and away from the typical views of smog and concrete, for which Beijing is famous. Read less

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Walter Wackerlig

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A lone man stands looking out toward the Yangtze River during the first snow of the year in Wuhan, a megacity in Central China with a population of 19 million.

A lone man stands looking out toward the Yangtze River during the first snow of the year in Wuhan, a megacity in Central China with a population of 19 million. Read less

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Far Liu

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A night view of Banpo Bridge in Seoul (population 24 million), Korea with spectators enjoying the famous Rainbow Fountain Show. The megacity of Seoul is a major tourist and cul... Read more

A night view of Banpo Bridge in Seoul (population 24 million), Korea with spectators enjoying the famous Rainbow Fountain Show. The megacity of Seoul is a major tourist and cultural hub of East Asia and the 9th most visited city in the world. Read less

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Mohd Ezairi

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Another beautiful view of downtown Seoul at night with mountains in the distance amidst a sea of tower blocks. The Seoul Capital Area is home to almost half the entire populati... Read more

Another beautiful view of downtown Seoul at night with mountains in the distance amidst a sea of tower blocks. The Seoul Capital Area is home to almost half the entire population of South Korea. Read less

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Leung Cho Pan

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This drone view over Sao Paulo, Brazil (population 21 million) demonstrates the sheer size and density of Brazil's largest megacity. Sao Paulo is one of the tallest cities in t... Read more

This drone view over Sao Paulo, Brazil (population 21 million) demonstrates the sheer size and density of Brazil's largest megacity. Sao Paulo is one of the tallest cities in the world, with over 6,000 high-rise buildings in its metropolitan area. Read less

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Filipe Frazao

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A tight, busy street in downtown Osaka (population 19 million) as seen on an overcast day. Osaka, the main part of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area is the second megacity of Ja... Read more

A tight, busy street in downtown Osaka (population 19 million) as seen on an overcast day. Osaka, the main part of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area is the second megacity of Japan. Read less

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Chris Petersen-Clausen

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Aerial view of apartment and office buildings in Tehran (population 15 million), Iran. Tehran is the second largest megacity in the Middle East after Cairo.

Aerial view of apartment and office buildings in Tehran (population 15 million), Iran. Tehran is the second largest megacity in the Middle East after Cairo. Read less

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Night market in Bangkok, Thailand (population 14.5 million). Bangkok was recently rated 'the most visited city in the world' and is a major gateway to South East Asia. This m... Read more

Night market in Bangkok, Thailand (population 14.5 million). Bangkok was recently rated 'the most visited city in the world' and is a major gateway to South East Asia. This megacity is famous for its food, nightlife, architecture and friendly locals. Read less

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Le Anh Tuan

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Light reflects off the mishmash of rooftops in the Latin Quarter of Paris, France (population 10.5 million) as seen on a rainy day from Notre Dame. Paris is Western Europe's mo... Read more

Light reflects off the mishmash of rooftops in the Latin Quarter of Paris, France (population 10.5 million) as seen on a rainy day from Notre Dame. Paris is Western Europe's most populous metropolitan area and possibly the leading megacity for art and culture. Read less

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James Viskov

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The lively view of the flower market in Kolkata (population 14.6 million) West Bengal, India, the country's third megacity and East India's cultural hub.

The lively view of the flower market in Kolkata (population 14.6 million) West Bengal, India, the country's third megacity and East India's cultural hub. Read less

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Wilfred Seefeld

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Abstract view of the Rosinha favela in Rio de Janeiro (population 11.3 million). Brazil's second largest megacity faced many challenges and controversies in the run up to the 2... Read more

Abstract view of the Rosinha favela in Rio de Janeiro (population 11.3 million). Brazil's second largest megacity faced many challenges and controversies in the run up to the 2016 Olympics; including concern over crime, the Zika virus outbreak and lack of adequate infrastructure. Read less

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David Bayon

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On top of the world; a window cleaner tends to one of the thousands of glass panels that make up The Shard skyscraper in London, UK (population 8.5 million). London's populatio... Read more

On top of the world; a window cleaner tends to one of the thousands of glass panels that make up The Shard skyscraper in London, UK (population 8.5 million). London's population is low in comparison to other megacities, but ranks one of the highest in terms of finance, tech, and opportunity. London is considered one of the most important cities in the world. Read less

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