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A satellite view of the U.S. Northeast megalopolis, the second most populous megalopolis in the Western Hemisphere (after the Great Lakes Megalopolis), home to over 50 million people, displayed at night.

A megalopolis (sometimes called a megapolis; also megaregion, or supercity)[1] is typically defined as a chain of roughly adjacent metropolitan areas, which may be somewhat separated or may merge into a continuous urban region.

History of term megalopolis[edit]

The term was coined by Patrick Geddes in his 1915 book Cities in Evolution,[2][3] and used by Oswald Spengler in his 1918 book The Decline of the West, and Lewis Mumford in his 1938 book The Culture of Cities, which described it as the first stage in urban overdevelopment and social decline. Later, it was used by Jean Gottmann in his landmark 1961 study, Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States, to describe what is now commonly known as the Northeast megalopolis a.k.a. BosWash.[4][5][6] The term has been interpreted as meaning "supercity".[1] In 1994 the magazine National Geographic (Vol 186, No.1 July 1994) featured a "Double Map Supplement: Megalopolis." of Boston to Washington Circa 1830 and on the flip-side a contemporary (1994) map of the same region to coincide with the 33 page feature article on page 2 "Breaking New Ground: Boston" by William S. Ellis Photographs Joel Sartore. The contemporary 1994 map cites the term Megalopolis being first used in 1961 to refer to the BosWash region.


Megalopolis is often spelled Megapolis. Both are derived from μέγας (mégas) in Greek meaning 'great' and πόλις (pólis) meaning 'city', therefore literally a 'great city' (compare "megacity"). Because in Greek, πόλις is feminine, the etymologically correct term is megalopolis. Literally, megalopolis in Greek means a city of exaggerated size where the prefix megalo- represents a quantity of exaggerated size.[7] The Ancient Greek city of Megalopolis was formed by the Arcadian League by bringing together smaller communities.

A megalopolis, also known as a megaregion, is a clustered network of cities. Gottmann defined its population as 25 million.[8] Doxiadis defined a small megalopolis a similar cluster with a population of about 10 million.[9][10][11] America 2050,[12] a program of the Regional Plan Association, lists 11 megaregions in the United States and Canada.[9] Megaregions of the United States were explored in a July 2005 report by Robert E. Lang and Dawn Dhavale of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech.[13] A later 2007 article by Lang and Nelson uses 20 megapolitan areas grouped into 10 megaregions.[14] The concept is based on the original Megalopolis model.[11]

Modern interlinked ground transportation corridors, such as rail and highway, often aid in the development of megalopolises. Using these commuter passageways to travel throughout the megalopolis is informally called megaloping. This term was coined by Davide Gadren and Stefan Berteau.[15]

In Brazil, the term megarregião has a legal meaning, different from the English word megaregion: Mesoregions of Brazil (mesorregião) and Microregions of Brazil (microrregião).

In China, the official term corresponding to the meaning of "megalopolis" is 城市群 (chéngshì qún), which literally means "city cluster". In Standard for basic terminology of urban planning (GB/T 50280—98) issued in 1998, 城市群 is defined as "An area in which cities are relatively densely distributed in a certain region" but wrongly translated as "agglomeration". In addition, there used to be no clear distinction between "megalopolis" and "metropolitan area" (都市圈) in Chinese context until National Development and Reform Commission issued Guidelines on the Cultivation and Development of Modern Metropolitan Areas on Feb 19, 2019 and clarified the definition of a metropolitan area.


North America[edit]


Megalopolis name Population
in millions
in millions
2025 (projected)
percent growth 2011 - 2025 (projected)
Major cities
Cascadia 8.4 8.8 5.0%

 Canada: Abbotsford, Vancouver (BC), Victoria
 United States: Eugene, Portland (OR), Salem, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver (WA)

Great Lakes 55.5 60.7 9.4%

 Canada: Hamilton, London, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Oshawa, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto, Vaughan, Windsor
 United States: Akron, Ann Arbor, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Duluth, Erie, Flint, Fort Wayne, Green Bay, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Lansing, Louisville, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Quad Cities, Rochester (NY), Rochester (MN), Rockford, Traverse City, Saginaw, St. Louis, Saint Paul, South Bend, Toledo

Southern California 24.4 29 18.9%

 Mexico: Tijuana
 United States: Anaheim, Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oceanside, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego


Megalopolis name Population
in millions
in millions
2025 (projected)
percent growth 2011 - 2025 (projected)
Major cities Related articles
Quebec City–Windsor Corridor 18.4 21 14.1% Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Mississauga, Montreal, Oshawa, Ottawa, Peterborough, Quebec City, Toronto, Trois-Rivières, Vaughan, Windsor Southern Ontario
Calgary–Edmonton Corridor 2.7 4 48.1% Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, St. Albert, Airdrie Calgary Region, Edmonton Capital Region, Central Alberta


Mexico City megalopolis
Megalopolis name Population
in millions
in millions
2025 (projected)
percent growth 2000 - 2025 (projected)
Major cities Related articles
Bajío 11 ? ?% León, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Celaya, Irapuato, San Juan del Río, Salamanca Bajío
Mexico City megalopolis 28 ? ?% Mexico City, Puebla, Cuernavaca, Toluca, Pachuca, Tula, Tlaxcala, Cuautla, Tulancingo Mexico City megalopolis

Note: Tijuana, Mexico is part of the Southern California megalopolis.

United States[edit]

Downtown Dallas, the largest metro of the Texas Triangle
Aerial view of Seattle with Lake Union in the foreground, part of Cascadia

Constituent urban areas of each megalopolis are based on reckoning by a single American organization, the Regional Plan Association (RPA). The RPA definition of the Great Lakes Megalopolis includes some Canadian metropolitan areas with the United States including some but not all major urban centres in the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor. Note that one city, Houston, is listed in two different Megalopolis regions as defined by the RPA, (the Gulf Coast and Texas Triangle).[9][20]

Megalopolis name Population
in millions
Percent of U.S. Population (2010) Population
in millions
2025 (projected)
percent growth 2010 - 2025 (projected)
Major cities
Arizona Sun Corridor[21][22] 5.6 2% 7.8 39.3% Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, Scottsdale
Northern California 14 5% 16.4 17.1% Fresno, Modesto, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton, Berkeley, Cupertino, Fremont, Reno, Sacramento, Santa Rosa
Southern California 24.4 8% 29 18.9% Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Riverside, Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Tijuana
Cascadia 12.4 3% 13.5 8.2% Abbotsford, Boise, Eugene, Portland (OR), Salem, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver (BC), Vancouver (WA), Victoria
Florida 17.3 6% 21.5 24.3% Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Orlando, Gainesville, Palm Bay, Pensacola
Front Range 5.5 2% 6.9 26% Albuquerque, Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, Denver, Pueblo, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe
Great Lakes 59.1 18% 65.7 10% Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Montreal, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Rochester, St. Louis, Toronto
Gulf Coast 13.4 4% 16.3 21.6% Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, Houston, McAllen, Brownsville, Mobile, Gulfport, Biloxi, New Orleans, Pensacola
Northeast 52.3 17% 58.4 11.7% Allentown-Bethlehem, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Boston, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Knowledge Corridor (Springfield and Hartford), Manchester (NH), Nashua, New Haven, New York, Newark, Norfolk, Ocean City, Philadelphia, Portland (ME), Pottsville, Providence, Richmond, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Trenton, Virginia Beach, Washington, Waterbury, Wilmington, Worcester
Piedmont Atlantic 17.6 6% 21.7 23.3% Atlanta, Charlotte, Research Triangle, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Greenville, Huntsville, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Birmingham, Montgomery, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Tuscaloosa
Texas Triangle 19.7 6% 24.8 25.9% Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio

South America[edit]


Satellite image of Greater Buenos Aires at night. Urban sprawl created a vast conurbation of 12,801,365 inhabitants including the City of Buenos Aires, a third of the total population of Argentina.
Megalopolis Name Population
Major cities Other cities
Greater Buenos Aires 13,641,973 Buenos Aires; Merlo, Moreno; Quilmes; Florencio Varela, La Matanza Lanús; Lomas de Zamora, San Martin; and Avellaneda


Megalopolis Name Population
Major cities Other cities
São Paulo Macrometropolis +32,200,000 São Paulo and Campinas Sorocaba, Jundiaí, São José dos Campos, Piracicaba and Santos
Greater Rio de Janeiro +12,000,000 Rio de Janeiro and São Gonçalo Nova Iguaçu, Duque de Caxias, Niterói, Belford Roxo and São João de Meriti
Greater Belo Horizonte +5,800,000 Belo Horizonte and Contagem Betim, Nova Lima and Sete Lagoas
Greater Porto Alegre +4,200,000 Porto Alegre and Canoas São Leopoldo, Novo Hamburgo and Gravataí
Recife metropolitan area +3,900,000 Recife and Jaboatão dos Guararapes Olinda, Paulista, Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Camaragibe, Igarassu, São Lourenço da Mata, Abreu e Lima, Ipojuca, Moreno, Itapissuma, Ilha de Itamaracá, Araçoiaba and Goiana
Salvador metropolitan area +3,900,000 Salvador and Camaçari São Francisco do Conde, Lauro de Freitas, Simões Filho, Candeias, Dias d'Ávila, Mata de São João, Pojuca, São Sebastião do Passé, Vera Cruz, Madre de Deus and Itaparica
Greater Curitiba + 3,500,000 Curitiba and São José dos Pinhais Araucária, Colombo, Fazenda Rio Grande, Lapa and Pinhais


The following megaregions in Colombia are expected to have nearly 93% (55 Million people) of its population by 2030, up from the current 72%. There are currently 4 major megaregions in Colombia.

Megalopolis name Population in 2015 Population in 2030 (projected) Major cities
Bogota National Capital Metropolis 17,000,000 26,500,000 Bogotá, Soacha, Facatativá, Chía, Tunja, Fusagasugá, Zipaquirá, Madrid, Funza, Cajicá, Ubaté, Sibaté, Guaduas, Villa de Leyva and Tocancipá
Pacific Belt 9,000,000 14,000,000 Medellín, Cali, Bello, Pereira, Manizales, Armenia, Itagüí, Yumbo, and Palmira
Northeast Atlantic Region 6,000,000 10,500,000 Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Ciénaga, Malambo, Baranoa and Turbaco
Santander Belt 3,000,000 5,200,000 Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, Ocaña, and Pamplona

Other sources[24] show that another megaregion may be considered:

Megalopolis name Population in 2015 Population in 2030 (projected) Major cities
Golden Triangle 29,500,000 41,000,000 Bogotá, Soacha, Medellín, Cali, Bello, Manizales, Armenia


Megalopolis name Population
Major cities Other cities
Lima-Callao Megalopolis 10,523,796 Lima and Callao Cono Norte, Cono Sur, and Cono Este


Megalopolis name Population
Major cities Other cities
Caracas-Valencia Megalopolis +9,000,000 Caracas, Valencia, and Maracay Cagua, Maiquetía, and Guatire


East Asia[edit]


Jingjinji Metropolitan Region is the central part of Bohai Economic Rim

In July 2012, the Economist Intelligence Unit brought out a report entitled; Supersized cities: China’s 13 megalopolises, which pinpoints the 13 emerging megalopolises in China, and highlights the demographic and income trends that are shaping their development.


Japan is made up of overlapping megapolises. The Taiheiyō Belt megapolis itself includes both the Greater Tokyo Area and Keihanshin megapoles.

South Korea[edit]


Skyline of Taipei, capital city of Taiwan in 2016.

South Asia[edit]

Dhaka, Bangladesh; part of the emerging chain of cities in the Bengal region

Sri Lanka[edit]

Western Region Supercity of Colombo (Megapolis) with 3,687 km2 land area and currently over 7 million population comprising several municipal, urban, and town councils politically. This is planned to be spacious and modern megacity with dedicated core zones for financial, trade, industrial, educational, logistic, transport, health, sports, recreational activities and services in par with the international level. Once completed it would be one of the most livable and favored cities in the world.



  1. Dhaka (Greater Dhaka Megalopolis consists four city Corporations: Dhaka South, Dhaka North, Gazipur, and Narayanganj and five municipals: Savar Upazila (A class), Dohar Upazila (A class), Dhamrai Upazila (A class), Tongi (Special Class), Sonargaon (B class) (17,000,000)
  2. Chittagong (4,009,423)


Karachi comprises six district municipal corporations. The total population is 24 million according to the 2011 census.


Kathmandu valley, which consists of 5 municipalities namely Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur and Madhyapur Thimi, along with the peripheral cities of Banepa, Panauti and Dhulikhel.

Southeast Asia[edit]

Rank Megalopolis Name Country Population
in millions
Major cities
1 Java  Indonesia 145[38] Serang, Tangerang, South Tangerang, Jakarta, Bekasi, Depok, Bogor, Sukabumi, Cimahi, Bandung, Tasikmalaya, Cirebon, Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang, Surakarta, Yogyakarta, Madiun, Kediri, Mojokerto, Surabaya, Batu, Malang, Pasuruan, Probolinggo
2 Mega Manila  Philippines 40+ Manila, Calamba, Angeles, Baguio, Batangas, Dagupan, Olongapo, Bacoor
3 Central Thailand  Thailand 25+ Bangkok, Ayuthaya, Pattaya
4 Southeast Economic Zone  Vietnam 16+ Đồng Nai, Bình Dương, Ho Chi Minh City, Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province, Long An, Tiền Giang


Mega Manila is made up of 4 Regions:

(Regional Centers) San Fernando-Manila-Calamba-Calapan

Total Population of Mega Manila as of 2015: (40,624,035)[39]

Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam[edit]

Southwest Asia[edit]


  • Greater Tehran: A region located in Iranian Tehran and Alborz Province in central Northern Iran with its influence expanding in Qom Province, Qazvin Province and Mazandaran Province, home for at least 15 million people, it is one of the most populous urban areas in the Greater Middle East and the surrounding regions. Tehran was a small village 200 years ago when it was first chosen as the Capital city and it has been growing at a very fast rate.


(all figures extrapolated from end of 2014 and end of 2015 figures of,[42] to middle of year 2016)

  • Greater Istanbul: Includes Istanbul city proper, with continuous urbanization spilling over to neighboring provinces, as well as nearby dense population and highly industrialized areas. Istanbul, eastern counties of Tekirdağ province, entire coast of Izmit bay, and Adapazarı add up to 17.5 million population.
  • Other major cities: Ankara (5 million), Izmir (includes satellites Torbalı-Aliağa-Urla-Manisa to add up to 4 million), Adana-Tarsus-Mersin (3 million), Bursa (2.1 million)


The Blue Banana, the Golden Banana and the Green Banana.

Transnational (Europe)[edit]

Rank Megalopolis Name Population in millions Countries & Respective Cities
1 Blue Banana 110–130[43]  United Kingdom: Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, London
 Belgium: Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Liege
 Netherlands: Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht)
 Luxembourg: Luxembourg
 Germany: Rhine-Ruhr, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Stuttgart, Nuremberg
 France: Strasbourg, Lille
  Switzerland: Zürich, Basel
 Italy: Turin, Milan
2 Golden Banana 40–45[44]  Italy: Turin, Genoa
 France: Lyon, Nice, Toulon, Marseille, Nîmes, Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan, Toulouse
 Monaco: Monaco
 Andorra: Andorra
 Spain: Manresa, Girona, Vic, Barcelona, Tarragona, Castellón de la Plana, Sagunt, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Cartagena
4 STRING 11.5[45]  Germany: Hamburg
 Denmark: Copenhagen
 Sweden: Malmö, Gothenburg
 Norway: Oslo
5 Atlantic Axis 10[46][47]  Portugal: Setúbal, Lisbon, Santarém, Leiria, Coimbra, Viseu, Aveiro, Porto, Braga, Viana do Castelo
 Spain: Vigo, Ourense, Pontevedra, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña




Megalopolis Name Population
in millions
Major cities
Sydney Region[citation needed] 5.77[48] Greater Sydney (including Central Coast and Blue Mountains) (4.97 million), Newcastle and Lake Macquarie (501,000), Illawarra (300,000)
Port Phillip Bay Area[citation needed] 4.98[48] Greater Melbourne (including Mornington Peninsula) (4.7 million), Greater Geelong (233,429), Melton, Victoria (54,455)
South East Queensland 3.52[48] Brisbane City (1.21 million), Gold Coast (591,300), Tweed Heads (8,200), Logan City (320,500), Redland City ( 139,600 ), Moreton Bay Region ( 450,000 ), Sunshine Coast (311,000), Noosa ( 54,600 ), Ipswich ( 206,000 ), Lockyer Valley ( 40,000), Toowoomba (166,000), Somerset ( 25,500 ), Note (excluding Scenic Rim (41,700))

New Zealand[edit]

See talk section for discussion on long-term projections for North Island and far long-term South Island

Megalopolis in Fiction[edit]


Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist science-fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang,[49][50] it stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. Erich Pommer produced it in the Babelsberg Studios for Universum Film A.G. (Ufa). The silent film is regarded as a pioneering science-fiction movie, being among the first feature-length movies of that genre.[51] Filming took place over 17 months in 1925–26 at a cost of over five million Reichsmarks.[52]

Judge Dredd[edit]

Judge Dredd (1977) Mega-City One is a huge fictional megalopolis-size city-state covering much of what is now the Eastern United States and some of Canada in the Judge Dredd comic book series and its spinoff series. The exact geography of the city depends on which writer and artist has done which story, but from its first appearance it has been associated with New York City's urban sprawl; originally it was presented as a future New York, which was retconned as the centre of a "Mega-City One" in the very next story.[53] The Architects' Journal placed it at No. 1 in their list of "comic book cities".[54] See also Megacities in Judge Dredd

Blade Runner[edit]

Blade Runner (1982 Film) - Blade Runner is a 1982 neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. It is a loose adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). The film is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles of 2019, in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. When a fugitive group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escapes back to Earth, burnt-out cop Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly agrees to hunt them down.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]