Big cities in China and Brazil

I’m working with two interns at TLC, and today we will be discussing an article from the Sunday New York Times about how China plans to move 250 million people from rural areas to cities within the next 12 years.

In reading the article, I found myself wondering how many big cities there are in China. It was not hard to find this list of the Biggest Cities in China.  What was hard to do was to count the number of cities with more than a million people. I gave up and copied the data into a spreadsheet, where I found that by a conservative count, there are at least 184 cities with more than a million people in China.

By contrast, the US has a whopping total of nine cities with more than a million people:

us cities

To further flesh out the comparison, China has 84 cities with more than 2 million people.  The US boasts four.

I’m still wrapping my mind around China having 18 times more big cities than the US…

I then read this article from the New York Times about protests going on in Brazil’s biggest cities… The article drew me in with this compelling picture of thousands of protesters out in the streets of Sao Paolo, Brazil’s biggest city:

brazil protests

The article went on to mention protests in “cities like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Curitiba, Belém and Brasília, the capital, where marchers made their way to the roof of Congress.”

I located each of these cities using Google Earth — except for Brasilia, the capital, they are all along the coast…

brazil ge

And then I wondered — how big are the biggest cities in Brazil?

brazil cities

So Brazil, with the fifth largest population in the world at just under 200 million, has 17 cities with a population of over a million people — as compared to nine in the US.

So when we think about the world’s biggest countries by looking at a chart like this:

world countries

I think it helps to think about each of these countries at the city level.

Oh, and by the way… I was curious, too — India has 46 cities with more than a million people.


About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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One Response to Big cities in China and Brazil

  1. Bill Oldread says:

    I lived in Shanghai for 5 yrs. in the late 90’s. I would tell people back home that Shanghai’s population was greater than NY, LA and Chicago combined. No one believed me.

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