List of largest cities throughout history

This article lists the largest human settlement in the world (by population) over time, as estimated by historians, from 7000 BC when the largest populated place in the world was a proto-city in the Ancient Near East with a population of about 1,000–2,000 people, to the year 2000 when the largest urban area was Tokyo with 26 million. Alexandria, Rome, or Baghdad may have been the first city to have 1,000,000 people, as early as 100 BC or as late as 925 AD. They were later surpassed by Constantinople, Chang'an, Hangzhou, Jinling, Beijing, London (the first city to reach 2 million), and New York (the first to top 10 million), among others, before Tokyo took the crown in the mid-20th century. As of 2020, the Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.393 million residents.[1]

Many of the figures are uncertain, especially in ancient times. Estimating population sizes before censuses were conducted is a difficult task.[2]

The following table lists the most populous human settlements by estimated population at specified points in history according to three sources, Ian Morris, George Modelski and Tertius Chandler. City names are in bold where all three sources agree. It shows the evolution of the largest settlement from proto-city to city to urban area to metropolitan area. The table does not contain data for the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300 – c. 1300 BC).