Since the Neolithic revolution, humanity is building cities. Here are the top ten amazing facts about cities all around the world.

What is a city?

First of all, what is a city? What is the difference between a city and other human settlements (town, for instance)?

City definition: according to World Atlas, a city is generally an extensive human settlement with a sophisticated system of transport, communication, sanitation, and housing, among others.

Historically, city-dwellers have been a small proportion of humanity overall, but following two centuries of unprecedented and rapid urbanization, roughly half of the world population now lives in cities.

City facts

1. Total Number of Cities In The World

As of 2018, the total number of cities in the world are:

  • 548: Cities with a population of 1,000,000+
  • 1,063: Cities with a population of 500,000+
  • 2,896: Cities with a population of 150,000+

2. Tokyo, Japan is the most populous city in the world

Once a small fishing village named Edo, Tokyo, the capital of Japan is the most populous city in the world today (by the metropolitan area). As of 2018, the population of Tokyo’s metropolitan area is 37,400,068. It has also the world’s largest urban agglomeration economy.

City facts: An aerial view of Tokyo
City facts: An aerial view of Tokyo shows just how huge the city is.

3. Shanghai, China is the most populous city proper in the world

With a population of more than 24 million as of 2018, Shanghai, China is the most populous city proper in the world.

City facts: Shanghai, China
City facts: Shanghai, China is the most populous city proper in the world.

4. The highest city in the world: El Alto (Bolivia)

Situated at 4,150 meters (13,615 feet) above sea level, El Alto (Bolivia) is the highest city in the world. The city’s name means “The Heights” in English. It is also one of Bolivia’s fastest-growing urban centers today, with a population of 974,754 in 2011.

City facts: El Alto
City facts: El Alto, Bolivia

The highest capital city is also one of Bolivia’s capitals, La Paz (Bolivia is a country with multiple capitals), with an elevation of 3,640 meters (11,942 feet).

But the highest permanent settlement in the world (not a city) is La Rinconada (Peru), a town in the Peruvian Andes located near a gold mine. It is situated at 5,100 meters (16,732 feet) above sea level.

5. The lowest city in the world: Jericho (Palestine)

Sitting at 258 meters (846 feet) below sea level, Jericho (Palestine) is the lowest city in the world. It is also one of the oldest cities. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. It is described in the Hebrew Bible as the “City of Palm Trees”.

City facts: Jericho
City facts: The modern city of Jericho from the ruins of the old walls. Photo: Wikipedia

The lowest capital city, and also the largest city in the world located below sea level is Bakü (Azerbaijan). It is situated at 28 meters (92 feet) below sea level.

6. Ürümqi (China) is the farthest city from the sea

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Ürümqi of Northwest China is the most remote city from any sea in the world. It is about 2,500 kilometers (1,600 mi) from the nearest coastline.

City facts: Ürümqi location on map
City facts: Ürümqi location on the map. It is the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China in Northwest China. ÜIt was a major hub on the Silk Road during China’s Tang dynasty and developed its reputation as a leading cultural and commercial center during the Qing dynasty. With a built-up (or metro) population of 2,988,715 as of the 2010 census and 3.03 million in 7 urban and suburban districts, Ürümqi is the largest city in China’s western interior. The city has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world. It is about 2,500 kilometers (1,600 mi) from the nearest coastline.

7. The Northernmost city in the world: Norilsk (Russia)

Located in Siberia, Norilsk is the world’s northernmost city with a population of more than 100,000. It is also not just one of the coldest cities in the world, it’s also one of the filthiest. It has a permanent population of 175,000. With temporary inhabitants included, its population reaches 220,000.

Nickel ore smelting is directly responsible for severe pollution, generally acid rain and smog.

City facts: Norilsk
City facts: City of Norilsk, Russia, the northernmost city in the world

At latitude 82°30’05” north, 817 kilometers (508 mi) from the North Pole, the northernmost permanently inhabited place is Alert, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada.

Reykjavík (Iceland) is the northernmost capital city.

8. The Southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia (Argentina)

Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Sitting at 54°48′ South, it has a population of 56,956 (as of 2010).

City facts: Ushuaia
City facts: Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.

Puerto Williams (Chile) is the southernmost permanently inhabited place in the world. The city has a population of 2,874 (as of 2002). It is located at 54°56′ South.

The southernmost city with more than 100,000 population is Punta Arenas (or Sandy Point in English), Chile. It is also the largest city south of the 46th parallel south.

Wellington (New Zealand) is the southernmost capital city.

9. The coldest city: Yakutsk (Russia)

Yakutsk is the capital city of the Sakha Republic, Russia, located about 450 kilometers (280 mi) south of the Arctic Circle which has a population of 269,601 (2010 Census). It is the coldest major city in the world.

In Yakutsk, average monthly temperatures range from +19.5 °C (67.1 °F) in July to -38.6 °C (-37.5 °F) in January. The lowest temperature recorded in Yakutsk was -64.4 °C (-83.9 °F) and the highest was +38.4 °C (101.1 °F).

City facts: Yakutsk
City facts: Yakutsk is the coldest major city in the world. Photo:

Oymyakon (Russia) is considered the coldest inhabited place on Earth. On February 6, 1933, a temperature of -67.7 °C (-90 °F) was recorded at Oymyakon’s weather station. This is, along with the same reading at Verkhoyansk (Russia), the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location on Earth. The average minimum temperature for January, February, and December remains below -50 °C (-58 °F).

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) is the coldest capital city.

10. The hottest cities

Most sources pick Ahvaz (Iran) and Kuwait City as the hottest cities on Earth.

Ahvaz is consistently one of the hottest cities on the planet during the summer, with summer temperatures regularly at least 45 degrees Celsius, sometimes exceeding 50 degrees Celsius with many sandstorms common during the summer period.

In Kuwait City, Summer temperatures regularly exceed 45 °C (113 °F), and temperatures over 50 °C (122 °F) are not uncommon. In the summer of 2014, Kuwait City hit 52 °C (125.6 °F).

City facts: Sand storm in Ahvaz
City facts: Ahwaz or Ahvaz is a city in the south of Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 1,432,965. Ahwaz has the world’s worst air pollution according to a survey by the World Health Organization in 2011. The city is also famous for its sandstorms.

Bonus fact: New York City is further south than Rome, Italy

Yes, that’s true. New York City sits at 40.7128° North, while Rome is at 41.9028° North.

City facts: New York City in winter
City facts: Despite being colder in winter, New York City is further south than Rome.


M. Özgür Nevres

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