This article lists the most populous cities in the world defined according to a concept of city proper. A city proper is a locality defined according to legal or political boundaries and an administratively recognized urban status that is usually characterized by some form of local government. City proper may not include suburbs.
"World Urbanization Prospects", a UN publication, defines population of a city proper as "the population living within the administrative boundaries of a city." The book continues to say that "city proper as defined by administrative boundaries may not include suburban areas where an important proportion of the population working or studying in the city lives." This definition does not give an accurate picture of the urban area or metropolitan area of cities. Using This strictly administrative definition, many cities will be included on this list that are smaller than their urban area. For example, many cities in China will be included since they govern territory that extends well beyond the traditional "city proper" into suburban and rural sometimes including other smaller urban areas. Many cities will also be excluded, including cities in Australia that lack any central administrative government.
The goal is to provide populations that can be compared reasonably and informatively using boundaries that generally correspond to municipalities. Approximate surface area and population density are also indicated. The list only includes cities with a population of 3 million and above.
This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries. Please observe the definition of the list when adding or editing entries.
^The city proper based on the districts of Huangpu, Xuhui, Changning, Jing'an, Putuo, Zhabei, Hongkou and Yangpu considered "core districts"-the older part (Puxi) + Inner suburbs (districts): Jiading, Baoshan, Minhang and Pudong New Area.
^Beijing is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of People's Republic of China, and is divided into 14 districts and 2 counties. The city proper based on the districts of Dongcheng and Xicheng considered "core districts" - the older part + Inner suburbs (districts): Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan.
^The Lagos State is made up of 20 districts (3568 square kilometers). The Metropolitan Lagos (City proper) is made up of 16 districts: Agege; Ajeromi-Ifelodun; Alimosho; Amuwo-Odofin; Apapa; Eti-Osa; Ifako-Ijaye; Ikeja; Kosofe; Lagos Island; Lagos Mainland; Mushin; Ojo; Oshodi-Isolo; Shomolu; Surulere (1171 square kilometres).
^The surface of the Metropolitan Lagos is 1171 square kilometres, but 171 square kilometres is water (lagoon).
^The city, considered capital of Istanbul Province, is administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM), which oversees the thirty-nine districts of the city-province (thirty-six urban districts and three rural districts).
^According to the new Metropolitan Municipal Law (No.5216/2004-5), Jurisdiction of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM), the city area is 5343.02 square kilometers. Districts: Çatalca, Silivri and Şile (total area 3153.23 square kilometers) are almost entirely rural.
^Guangzhou City is a sub-provincial city and it is divided into 10 districts and 2 County-level cities. Guangzhou is further divided into 131 Subdistricts and 38 Towns. The city proper (districtes): Yuexiu, Liwan, Haizhu, Tianhe, Baiyun, Huangpu, Panyu, Huadu and Industrial Districts - Nansha, Luogang.
^Mumbai City consists of two distinct regions: Mumbai City district (Island City) and Mumbai Suburban district (Western Suburban and Eastern Suburban), grouped into 24 wards, under the administration of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The remaining area belongs to Defence, Mumbai Port Trust, Atomic Energy Commission and Borivali National Park, which are out of the jurisdiction of the BMC.
^Dhaka City Corporation was established as the Dhaka Municipality on August 1, 1864. The Awami League government on 29 November 2011 dissolved the Dhaka City Corporation by the Local Government (City Corporation) Amendment Bill 2011 passed by the Parliament of Bangladesh after being placed in the Parliament on November 23. The city corporation will be split into two corporations, North and South. The municipal area of Dhaka city is under the jurisdiction of the Dhaka City Corporation (North - South) and the municipal area is divided into 92 wards.
^In April 2011, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf abolished the Helwan Governorate and reincorporated its territory into the Cairo Governorate. The total area of the governorate is 3085.1 square kilometers, the city area is 453 square kilometers, but the Egyptian government considered the Cairo Governorate is that a whole city and all statistics relate to the "governorate".
^Administratively, the Municipality of São Paulo is divided into 31 subprefectures, each in turn divided into 96 districts. Locally, districts may contain one or more neighborhoods (bairros). The city of São Paulo recognizes ten geographical areas used to reference locations in the city.
^The province of Kinshasa is divided into twenty-four districts, administered by the Metropolitan Municipality of Kinshasa. But the districts (communes) of Maluku and Nsele (N'Sele) are rural and not part of the city proper. The city proper (urban area) of Kinshasa is generally considered to be formed by twenty-two "communes".
^According to the Constitution of Democratic Republic of the Congo, the province of Kinshasa covers 9965.21 km2. Maluku and N'Sele (total area 8847.59 km2) are entirely rural, with a very very low density.
^Based on the districts of Heping, Hexi, Hebei, Nankai, Hedong, Hongqiao, Jinnan, Dongli, Xiqing, Beichen and Binhai New Area, considered "core districts". Starting from November 2009, Binhai New Area was consolidated into a district, and the former subordinate districts of Tanggu, Hangu and Dagang were abolished. Binhai is part of the Bohai Economic Rim and is expected to become another asset to regional development, following the rise of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Shanghai Pudong New Area. It is a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of the PRC, meaning experimental reforms are taking place here.
^Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet เขต, also sometimes wrongly called amphoe อำเภอ as in the other provinces, derived from Pali khetta, cognate to Sanskrit kṣetra), which are further subdivided into 169 khwaeng แขวง, roughly equivalent to tambon ตำบล in the other provinces.
^The district of Sumapaz is completely rural (no city services) and is not part of the city proper. The area was an important pilgrimage arheoligic site for the Muisca indigenous peoples in pre-Columbian times and for visiting the Sumapaz National Park. The district of Sumapaz represents 0.1% of the population (48% "area") of Bogotá Municipality.
^The province of Baghdad is divided into nine district, administered by the Metropolitan Municipality of Baghdad. The districts are distributed into 89 Neighborhood Councils.
^There are many disputes about Baghdad city (urban) area. The city of Baghdad has the special status of provincial. The demographic information reported to the city proper are non-existent or are the estimates, projections inconclusive. The Metropolitan Municipality of Baghdad is a city "federal district - province". Is similar to the case of Cairo Governorate.
^The sub-provincial city of Wuhan has direct jurisdiction over 13 districts (eight urban/five rural). The city proper (urban) based on the districts of Jiang'an, Jianghan, Qiaokou, Hanyang, Wuchang and Qingshan considered "core districts" + Inner suburbs (districts): Hongshan, Dongxihu.
^The province of Santiago is divided into thirty-two districts, administered by the Metropolitan Municipality of Santiago. But the district of Lo Barnechea is rural (mountains) and is not part of the city proper. The city proper (urban area) of Santiago is generally considered to be formed by thirty-one districts (Province of Santiago), the district of Puente Alto (Province of Cordillera), and the district of San Bernardo (Province of Maipo).
^Riyadh is divided into 15 branch municipalities, in addition to the Diplomatic Quarter. Each branch municipality in turn contains several districts, amounting to over 130 in total, though some districts are divided between more than one branch municipality. The branch municipalities are Al-Shemaysi, Irqah, Al-Ma'athar, Al-Olayya, Al-Aziziyya, Al-Malaz, Al-Selayy, Nemar, Al-Neseem, Al-Shifa, Al-'Urayja, Al-Bat'ha, Al-Ha'ir, Al-Rawdha, and Al-Shimal ("the North").
^Arriyadh Development Authority (Investment_Arriyadh_2013)
^Luanda is a city-province of Angola. In 2011 Luanda Province was subdivided into seven municipalities: Belas, Cacuaco, Cazenga, Ícolo e Bengo, Luanda, Quiçama and Viana, administered by the Metropolitan Municipality of Luanda (18825.28 square kilometres). These are again subdivided into 47 Communes (Comunas). The city proper of Luanda is formed by five districts: Belas, Viana, Luanda, Cazenga and Cacuaco.
^Chennai city is governed by the Chennai Corporation, dividing into three regions - fifteen districts: North (Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Tondiarpet and Royapuram), South (Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Adyar, Perungudi and Sholinganallur) and Central (Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar, Ambattur, Anna Nagar, Teynampet and Kodambakkam), which covers 200 wards. Of the total land area, reserved forests cover 2.71 km2 and is concentrated in and around the Guindy National Park region, one of the few national parks in the world located within a city.
^Yangon is administered by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC). The city proper is divided into four districts: Western District, Eastern District, Southern District and Northern District. The districts combined have a total of 33 townships.
^The city of Alexandria has an area of approximately 400 square kilometres. Egyptian officials provides information at governorate level. In the case of "city proper" provides information at intervals of many years. It is impossible to assess the population (official) reported in the city proper area.
^Chongqing is the largest of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the People's Republic of China. The municipality is divided into 38 subdivisions (3 were abolished in 1997, and Wansheng and Shuangqiao districts were abolished in October 2011), consisting of 19 districts, 15 counties, and 4 autonomous counties. The city proper based on the districts of Yuzhong, Dadukou, Jiangbei, Shapingba, Jiulongpo, Nan'an considered "Central Chongqing (重庆市中心)".
^The sub-provincial city of Xi'an has direct jurisdiction over 9 districts (区 qu) and 4 counties (县 xian). The city proper based on the districts of Xīnchéng, Bēilín and Liánhú considered "core districts" + Inner suburbs (districts): Bàqiáo, Wèiyāng and Yàntǎ.
^The province of Ankara is divided into twenty five districts, administered by the Metropolitan Municipality of Ankara. The city proper (urban area) of Ankara is generally considered to be formed by eight districts (Sincan, Yenimahalle, Etimesgut, Keçiören, Pursaklar, Altındağ, Mamak, Çankaya). In some criteria, Gölbaşı district is part of the city, but the district of Gölbaşı is rural.
^All districts that are listed as being in Greater Cairo and are contiguous; namely Ad-Duqī, Al-Ahrām; Al-'Ajūzah; Al-Badrashayn; Al-Ḥawāmidiyah; Al-Jīzah; Al-Jīzah; Al-'Umrāniyah; Al-Warrāq; Awsīm; Būlāq al-Dakrūr; Imbābah; Kirdāsah.
^The prefecture-level city of Hefei administers 9 county-level divisions, including 4 districts, 1 County-city and 4 counties. The city proper based on the districts of Luyang, Yaohai, Shushan and Baohe considered "core districts".