The Most Overcrowded Cities on Earth

As of July 2020, the world’s population is just 200 million shy of reaching a staggering 8 billion, despite the declining birth rate. With this in mind, some places are bound to be more crowded than others. And according to the UN Habitat data set, these five cities definitely deserve their spots on this list of the most overcrowded cities on Earth. We’re specifically looking at just how cramped people are per square kilometer in the wider metro area.

1. Dhaka, Bangladesh (47,700 people sq/km)

Starting off this list is Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka with a density of 47,700 per square kilometer. The actual population now sits at a whopping 14.4 million. The overcrowding there is so bad that it is often listed as second to last in the Quality of Life indexes, just before Venezuela’s highly unstable Caracas. The rampant corruption doesn’t help one bit either, which is why public transport and infrastructure projects are at extreme minimal. Now given the above information, you could imagine what the traffic must be like: a total nightmare and, excluding major strikes, Dhaka’s streets are almost always completely gridlocked.

2. Manila, Philippines (21,765 people sq/km)


Up next is Manila, Philippines, with a whopping population of 14.4 million and a density of 21,765 per square kilometer. The city is so compact that there’s hardly any space to house the citizens. Even middle class people with decent jobs struggle to find a decent place to live—some reside in tiny shacks under bridges, mere inches away from railway lines or even in unused crypts. Hospitals, too, are feeling the effects of overcrowding—it’s to the point where mothers and newborns are stacked up to four per bed. This takes the phrase “packed like a tin of sardines” to a whole new level.

3. Mumbai, India (21,000 people sq/km)

Mumbai’s population density may be half of Dhaka’s at 21,000, but their actual numbers are much larger with 20 million as of 2022. People are so jam-packed that, according to a 2014 report, nearly 800 people died after falling from Mumbai’s trains. All because the carriages were filled to capacity, causing unsuspecting persons to spill out of the open doors. The government tried to fix the overcrowding by building a new city called Navi Mumbai, but that too was filled up within 20 years.

4. Medellin, Colombia (19,700 people sq/km)

As of 2022, Medellin, Colombia’s population is now officially just a little over 4 million. Despite this, Medellin is actually much more orderly than both Dhaka and Mumbai. They have a fully functional transport system that no one is falling of out by the hundreds. The city is also surprisingly clean, something the other cities on this list can’t relate to. Even the slums have their own sense of order, thanks to the massive regeneration project that aims to make it a much safer and organized place.

5. Casablanca, Morocco (14,200 people sq/km)

At first glance, Casablanca appears to be a bustling city full of amazing, marble sculptures. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear there is a huge population problem. And with a population of 7.6 million, it’s clear to see why. It used to be so bad that Casablanca was once ranked as the sixth most polluted city in the world. But in recent years, the city has undergone a bit of a face lift that includes a new smart traffic system in an attempt to combat that dreadful congested traffic.

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