The Largest City on Each Continent

Tokyo is the post populous city in Asia

A survey of the seven continents' most populous cities reveals a remarkably large gap—the population numbers range from just 1300 to 40 million!

The low end of the range applies to a place in Antarctica, as you might expect. You may also guess that New York City is the largest city in North America. Actually, Mexico City edges out NYC by a few hundred thousand people. You'll encounter other surprises like that as you review the continents' largest cities, so, for context, we'll include a few of the runners up.

Read on to learn about the continents' largest cities!


The Asian city with the highest population is Tokyo, Japan. It's home to over 40 million people. The second and third largest cities in Asia are, respectively, Jakarta in Indonesia, with a population of just over 31 million, and Delhi, in India, with about 30 million people.

North America

Mexico City

Mexico City is the capital and largest city of Mexico. With nearly 9 million people, it's also the most populous city in North America. New York City is the continent's second-largest city, with about 8 and a half million people.

South America

São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil tops the list in South America when it comes to population. Over 12 million people live there. Lima, Peru comes in second in South America, with a population close to 9 million people, and Bogotá, Colombia has the third-most people, with about 7,900,000.


Lagos, Nigeria

The most populous city in Africa is Lagos, Nigeria. The city is home to about 13,400,000 million. Runner up in Cairo, Egypt with approximately 9 and a half million. Algiers, the capital of Algeria, comes in third with just under 4 million people.


Istanbul, Turkey

In the European city of Istanbul, Turkey, the population is around 15 and a half million. This city occupies two different continents. One part of Istanbul lies in Europe and the other part lies in Asia. Moscow, Russia comes next with over 12 and half million people. The crown jewel of the UK, London, takes the third spot, with a population of just over 9 million.


The largest city in Oceania, a region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, is Sydney, Australia, home to a little over 5 million people. In fact, the top four cities in Oceania are in Australia—in second place is Melbourne with almost about 4.8 million, then Brisbane, with 2 and half million, and Perth with just over 2 million.

To visit Oceania's fifth-largest city, you'd have to take a boat or plane to New Zealand where the city of Auckland is home to about 1 and a half million.


McMurdo Station

In Antarctica, McMurdo Station is the place to be. It's the location of a United States Antarctic research station and about 1200 people live there.

There are just two other places in Antarctica that have a significant year-round population. One is the Villa Las Estrellas base, a Chilean town and research station on King George Island, with a population of about 90. The other is the Argentinian Esperanza base, at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, where about 50 people live.

In a study of world urbanization, the UN found that 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and that the number of urban dwellers is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. It's clear that, as in all the cities discussed in this article, urban opportunities for community and commerce are an irresistible attraction for millions of people all over the world.