Business Insider Edition

30 countries where much (or most!) of the population lives in one city, like Israel, Japan, and Greece

Andy Kiersz , Business Insider US
 Nov 16, 2019, 12:16 PM
About 30% of Japan's population lives in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
  • Using population estimates from the UN, we compared countries' populations to those of their largest cities.
  • In many countries, a large share of the population lives in the biggest city.
  • Go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za for more stories.

Many countries, like the US and China, have huge populations spread out over a vast area in dozens or hundreds of cities and towns. But in some parts of the world, the big city dominates.

The United Nations provides estimates of the populations of the world's countries and large cities. The database includes estimates for the populations of over 1,800 major urban areas with at least 300,000 residents.

We used the 2019 population estimates for the cities and countries in the database to find the share of each country's population living in its largest city. In addition to being limited to countries that include urban areas with populations over 300,000, we also excluded city-states like Singapore and sub-regions of countries, like Hong Kong, China and Puerto Rico, United States.

We found the 30 countries with the largest share of the population living in the biggest city. The countries are geographically spread out, ranging from North Macedonia in Europe to Mongolia in Asia to Argentina in South America. Most of the countries have relatively small populations, but a handful, like Japan, have populations over 100 million.

Here are the countries where a huge share of the population lives in the largest city:


30. Nouakchott, Mauritania, had a population of 1,259,000, which was 27.8% of the country's population of 4,526,000.


29. Skopje, North Macedonia, had a population of 590,000, which was 28.3% of the country's population of 2,083,000.


28. Lisbon, Portugal, had a population of 2,942,000, which was 28.8% of the country's population of 10,226,000.


27. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, had a population of 2,833,000, which was 29.0% of the country's population of 9,771,000.


26. Bata, Equatorial Guinea, had a population of 395,000, which was 29.1% of the country's population of 1,356,000.


25. Tokyo, Japan, had a population of 37,435,000, which was 29.5% of the country's population of 126,860,000.


24. Monrovia, Liberia, had a population of 1,467,000, which was 29.7% of the country's population of 4,937,000.


23. Athens, Greece, had a population of 3,154,000, which was 30.1% of the country's population of 10,473,000.


22. Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, had a population of 579,000, which was 30.1% of the country's population of 1,921,000.


21. Muscat, Oman, had a population of 1,502,000, which was 30.2% of the country's population of 4,975,000.

Chris Jackson/Getty

20. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, had a population of 3,245,000, which was 30.2% of the country's population of 10,739,000.


19. Lima, Peru, had a population of 10,555,000, which was 32.5% of the country's population of 32,510,000.


18. Auckland, New Zealand, had a population of 1,582,000, which was 33.1% of the country's population of 4,783,000.


17. Riga, Latvia, had a population of 634,000, which was 33.3% of the country's population of 1,907,000.


16. Tallinn, Estonia, had a population of 441,000, which was 33.3% of the country's population of 1,326,000.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty

15. Buenos Aires, Argentina, had a population of 15,057,000, which was 33.6% of the country's population of 44,781,000.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

14. Beirut, Lebanon, had a population of 2,407,000, which was 35.1% of the country's population of 6,856,000.


13. Santiago, Chile, had a population of 6,724,000, which was 35.5% of the country's population of 18,952,000.


12. Manama, Bahrain, had a population of 600,000, which was 36.6% of the country's population of 1,641,000.

Getty/Husain Abbas

11. Yerevan, Armenia, had a population of 1,083,000, which was 36.6% of the country's population of 2,958,000.


10. Libreville, Gabon, had a population of 824,000, which was 37.9% of the country's population of 2,173,000.


9. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, had a population of 544,000, which was 39.0% of the country's population of 1,395,000.


8. Brazzaville, Congo, had a population of 2,308,000, which was 42.9% of the country's population of 5,381,000.

AFP via Getty Images

7. Panama City, Panama, had a population of 1,822,000, which was 42.9% of the country's population of 4,246,000.


6. Asunción, Paraguay, had a population of 3,279,000, which was 46.5% of the country's population of 7,045,000.


5. Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel, had a population of 4,097,000, which was 48.1% of the country's population of 8,519,000.


4. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, had a population of 1,553,000, which was 48.2% of the country's population of 3,225,000.

In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

3. Montevideo, Uruguay, had a population of 1,745,000, which was 50.4% of the country's population of 3,462,000.


2. Djibouti, Djibouti, had a population of 569,000, which was 58.4% of the country's population of 974,000.


1. Kuwait City, Kuwait, had a population of 3,052,000, which was 72.5% of the country's population of 4,207,000.

trabantos / Getty Images

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