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Talk:List of cities proper by population

May 3, 2008 Articles for deletion Kept
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Name Change To List of Cities Proper (by population and area)Edit

Changing the name to include area or not include the by population part would make lots of sense because you can change the order of the list by selecting either area or population or more minor options. BrandonALF (talk) 12:31, 19 June 2017 (UTC)

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Chinese municipalities - are they equal to cities?Edit

The list of cities proper is dominated by Chinese cities. And this is not because China is #1 in the world by the size of urban population, but simply because the standard administrative division in China is the combination of the city proper (that is usually split into few separate districts) and large surrounding urban areas. The name of such combined unit is translated into other languages as 'city' though this is just literal translation, and not the proper translation of the meaning. Good illustration - map of China, that shows, that almost whole China is divided between 'cities'; rural districts are rare exceptions. I offer for Chinese cities to counr not the whole 'city' but only the core - districts that are 100% or close to 100% urban (or districts with population density above some level e.g. 2000 per Good news is that almost every Chinese 'city' has administrative division between central districts and peripheral districts so it can be pretty easy to count city proper population


  1. Shanghai - either 8 districts of inner city (Puxi) with 7m people or Puxi + 4 districts around it (18m)
  2. Beijing - either Inner City (2 districts with ~2.1m people) or urban area, including next circle of 4 districts (~14m in sum with Inner City) should be counted
  3. Wuhan - central part of the district (6 districts, or 7 - if Hongshan is included) has the population about 6.5m
  4. Guangzhou - there are ~5m people in the city core (4 districts) but may be three surrinding districts (+4.5m) can be added
  5. Chongqing - there are 5 central districts with total population ~4.5m (currently 9 districts out of 38 are included into the estimate, but 3 peripheral included districts have population density as low as 500-1000 per
  6. Tjanjin - 6 districts of 'innecr city' have population of 4.3m, though may be 4 surrounding districts with another 2.5m should be added to the count
  7. Zhengzhou - core population (core = 5 districts) is above 4m
  8. Shenyang - 5 districts of 'city proper'(~3.8m)
  9. Nanjing - 4 or 5 districts of 'inner city', 3.5-3.9m
  10. Changsha - 5 districts of 'city proper' have population of just above 3m

(then 3 disputable cases)

  1. Shenzhen - city core (Futian and Louhu) have the population slightly above 2k, but if 3 western districts are added, total populaton raise to more than 6 m
  2. Quanzhou - city core (2 districts) is below even 1m, but with Jinjang ans Shishi Quanzhou can pretend that it's above 3mZunyi should be removed from the list (there is no significant city core)
  3. Dongguan - complicated case, as the whole 'city' hasrelatively high populatopon density but there is no clear center/core. In fact this is not the unified city, but just one of administrative parts of large Pearl Rivel Delta urban area

(then cities that IMO should be excluded from the list)

  1. Ningbo - core urban area is far below 2m, so the city should be excluded from the list
  2. Shantou - its core (3 districts) has the population of only 2.1m, so the city should be excluded from the list
  3. Foshan -district core (chancheng) has the populationslightly above 1m, so the city should be excluded
  4. Zhongsang - in fact this is relativel small city (less than 400K in two core districts), out of the list
  5. Xiamen - two core districts (island part) have the population below 2m, and even total population of urbanised areas is below 3m
  6. Suzhou - the density is too low for real City, so I offer to exclude it from the list

Chinese cities that are already represented in the list properly (with only central urban districts counted): Harbin, Hefei, Xian, Hangzhou, Wenzhou

Barouh (talk) 00:17, 27 June 2017 (UTC)Barouh

Well you are correct that the city proper definition of Chinese cities does not relate well with others. The best solution is to offer multiple definitions like you see here List of largest cities so we can properly distinguish the urban areas from the administrative areas for Chinese cities. Australian cities have the opposite problem as they are made up of tiny local governments. Since we can't change the definition of city proper (so we can't do what you propose here on this page), I suggest we just get rid of this page altogether and link it to List of largest cities which is an exact copy of this page anyway. What do you think of that solution? Mattximus (talk) 00:46, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
Three points. (A) The definition require that it should be "an administratively recognised urban status" - this is not so in China, where significant parts of 'cities' territory has no official status of urban area. Even in Shanghai 10% of the population are counted as rural, and the share of rural area by % of territory is much-much higher. (B) General approach can't be used for China as de facto there is no distinction between urban administrative units and rural administrative units (all China except some western and northern parts consists of 'cities'. (C) Already now some Chinese cities are counted in the list the same way I propose - by the population of central urbanised districts (Harbin and 4 other cities - see the list above, I edited my post) Barouh (talk) 09:15, 27 June 2017 (UTC)Barouh
Unfortunately you can't just make up your own definition on wikipedia, that is WIKI:OR and is not allowed. You must stick with the UN definition which is administrative unit. In Chinese cities the rural and urban areas do not have different administrations, so you can't split those. However, on the list World's largest cities there is a space for Urban population. This list is not about urban populations but about administrative populations. Mattximus (talk) 13:14, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
I know you probably don't know, but we've been through this a hundred times. I completely agree that listing the entire area for a sub-provincial/prefecture-level, heck even county-level "cities" is ridiculous, but there doesn't seem to be enough consensus to allow it to be changed. I think Beijing is a particularly egregious case where you have an urban area literally on the other side of mountains (i.e. Yanqing town) being counted in as part of the "city proper" of Beijing. There are other areas within the "city" of Beijing that obviously aren't part of the actual city proper. I can see sometimes where it can be debatable, but when you have other cities within these "cities" that aren't even contiguous with the greater urban area of the central settlement, it's really hard to argue that these are part of the city proper. --Criticalthinker (talk) 00:56, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
"Really hard to argue that these are part of the city proper" is not true, it is absolutely part of city proper since it's administered centrally. It's just a stupid definition. That's why this page should probably be deleted and redirected to List of largest cities so we can show the population of the different definitions for Chinese cities and not have wildly inaccurate numbers. Mattximus (talk) 02:06, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
Whole New York state is also administered centrally and has the same name as its largest city. Does it mean that we can count whole state as the city? :) Barouh (talk) 09:22, 27 June 2017 (UTC)Barouh
New York State is not a city and is not administered from NYC. The Chinese cities, no matter how ridiculous their boundaries may seem, are called cities and administered from the urban center. -Zanhe (talk) 09:40, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
There's no perfect solution to this, and tons of ink has been spilled on it (read the archives). The choice we face is between WP:OR (Barouh's approach) and using the official definition, which can lead to some ludicrous results. I tend to agree with Mattximus that this list should not exist. There is no acceptable definition of "city proper" that is consistently applicable worldwide. -Zanhe (talk) 09:45, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
There is a perfect solution, merge this list with World's largest cities so we can use 3 different definitions of what a city is, so that we can better compare cities around the world. Mattximus (talk) 13:14, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

Merger proposalEdit

I formally propose that List of cities proper by population be merged into List of largest cities. The content of this page is completely copied in a much better page with many more editors and views. The definition of what makes a city is complex, and the page should reflect that. The World's largest cities page uses 3 different definitions (city proper, urban area, and metropolitan area) allowing you to better compare cities from around the world. Otherwise cities in China and Australia appear to be larger and smaller than they are. Nothing is lost with this merger since everything is copied anyway. Would anyone oppose? Mattximus (talk) 13:19, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

What? The proposal passes if no one responds? --Criticalthinker (talk) 01:16, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Actually yes. I read the wikipedia merger procedure and if nobody responds it is assumed to be uncontroversial and the move goes ahead. However I had several people respond spread out over the several pages that were merged and I had 100% support for the merger. It is simply a copy of the data so it's not terribly controversial, since no data is lost. I'm happy to discuss still if you are interested! It can always be reverted if you have strong opposition. Mattximus (talk) 01:20, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Not entirely true that "no data is lost" - the columns with definitions, areas and densities were lost. Also WP:MERGE wasn't followed properly: "Please use the discuss parameter to direct to the same talk page. Otherwise, two separate discussions could take place". Batternut (talk) 09:06, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
In this case Don't merge - I think the page is worthwhile, and so long as it's not hurting anyone or another wiki aritlce, there is no compelling reason to get rid of all of the hard work that's been put into this article. It can be improved. While there will always be arguments about it, and though there are many exceptions, the the page generally works by the rules. Criticalthinker (talk) 05:55, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't think the "lost data": columns with definitions, areas and densities are very useful. Most of them are entered by users on an ad hoc basis with no reliable source. Overall, I believe the merger is a good idea, to put different definitions of cities side by side for readers to compare. -Zanhe (talk) 23:14, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
Poor quality is WP:SURMOUNTABLE, not a reason for content deletion. Batternut (talk) 10:00, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm honestly not sure why you replied to me with this. We're specifically having a merge-don't merge discussion. Debates over changes to the existing page can be had after that. --Criticalthinker (talk) 03:18, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
@Criticalthinker: I wasn't replying to you, but to the message above yours by Batternut. Sorry about the confusion. -Zanhe (talk) 03:43, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree, specifically: the boundaries of the area column are often not the same as the boundary that is considered for the population column, rendering the density column useless. The comparison of cities using different definitions side by side is very useful. Otherwise the list will either exclude many large Chinese cities, or exclude cities like Sydney depending on the definition. And this has led to very long and repetitious arguments over the years. This single list should solve that problem. Mattximus (talk) 01:09, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
Don't merge. List of largest cities doesn't do the job that this page does, and confuses cities with metro areas, which can be very different. Batternut (talk) 09:45, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
Don't merge. List of largest cities discusses the different ways that “largest cities” can be reckoned (city proper, urban area, metro area); while this article lists cities proper specifically, compare List of United States cities by population, which is about city proper, the traditional use of the term “city” in the U.S. I largely agree with Batternut; this article should not be merged with List of largest cities; the two articles are somewhat different in scope.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 01:18, 4 September 2017 (UTC)


Why is it ranked #4 but has a higher population than 1-3? --Golbez (talk) 21:42, 26 July 2017 (UTC)

Aha; someone had changed it to a non-source. However, they have a point - Wikipedia marks it as 27 million on its article, and this discrepancy must be resolved. --Golbez (talk) 21:45, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
Nobody has any clue what the population is. Anyone putting it at 27 million as the article suggests is due to some kind of "pride" in making it the largest city by population in the world. To be serious, 9,802,134 was the population at the last official census in 1998 (!). Forbes places it around 20 million. There is a census going on now though that should solve this question. Mattximus (talk) 23:27, 26 July 2017 (UTC)


For information on Pakistani cities, see [1] “TABLE - 1: PROVISIONAL PROVINCE WISE POPULATION BY SEX AND RURAL/URBAN”; Pakistan just released the results of its 2017 census. Karachi Division (which I think should be called the “city proper”), Sindh is listed as having 16,051,521 people. Lahore District (again, I suppose we can consider it to be the “city proper”), Lahore Division, Punjab, has 11,126,285 people. Faisalabad District, Faisalabad Division, Punjab, has 7,873,910 people; but I am not sure the entire district, with an area of 5,936.76 km2[1], should be considered a “city proper”; is it dense enuf? Peshawar District, Peshawar Division, Khyber, has 4,269,079 people (on 1,517.5 km2[2]); I'd count that as a city proper.

This article needs alot of cleaning up; fixing the situation regarding Pakistani cities is just a start.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 01:45, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

One more thing. [2] “TABLE - 1: PROVISIONAL PROVINCE WISE POPULATION BY SEX AND RURAL/URBAN”, lists, on the last page, “FAISALABAD M.CORP.” [Metropolitan Corporation] as having 3,203,846 people, tho' it doesn't specify the surface area.--Solomonfromfinland (talk) 01:52, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
  1. ^ "PAKISTAN: Administrative Division". Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "PAKISTAN: Administrative Division". Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  • It's pretty clear that [3] is the source for city proper populations. The link you give is not for city proper, but for districts which perhaps equivalent to metropolitan region or urban area? Both of those are different lists. Also, please do not use when actual census numbers are available from the census bureau of Pakistan. Mattximus (talk) 13:20, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
  • I just noticed that you said "is it dense enough" to be considered city proper. However the definition of city proper is administrative borders, regardless of the population density. You may be thinking of the "urban area" definition for city. Mattximus (talk) 13:22, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
In this case, some of the district figure would have to be considered city propers by the definition of this page, particularly if we're going to count all of China's cities the way we do. I mean, Karachi is fairly similar to many Chinese cities in that its borders include swatchs of uninhabited or very rural land. The only way we'd not include urbanized districts as city propers is if the metropolitan/municipal corporations are below the district level. In the case of Karachi, this isn't the case, the city is governed from the district level and would thus be the city proper. However, in the case of Faisalabad, it sounds like there is Faisalabad local government below the district level, in which case that would be the city proper. It seems, however, that we don't have an area figure for the Faisalabad Metropolitan Corporation. --Criticalthinker (talk) 22:22, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
That's interesting, do you have a source for that? I'm not familiar with how Karachi is organized. It seems strange the census bureau would release a "city population of Karachi" number and it not be correct. It appears to be close to the district population, where is the difference? And no unfortunately we only treat some cities in China this way, Beijing yes, but not Harbin for example. It's an inconsistency that's rather annoying. Mattximus (talk) 02:11, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Actually, slight mistake on my part, it seems that Karachi Metropolitan Corporation actually governs at the division level - the level right below province - as opposed to the district level. Karachi is then divided into 6 entities at the district level, which was further divided into 18 towns, which are finally divided into 178 unions councisl. This is all information available of Karachi's and Karachi Division's wiki page. In any case, the prime/supreme level of local government is at the division level, which would have to be the city proper. Any "wrong" population you may be seeing might be an urban area measurement (irrespective of political boundaries), maybe? I have no idea. All I know is that the local Karachi Metropolitan Corporation governs the 3,780 sq km Karachi Division. --Criticalthinker (talk) 03:06, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Do you have a source for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation governs the 3,780 sq km Karachi Division? Again it seems strange that the census bureau releases a document on city population, but it's not using city boundaries. Mattximus (talk) 11:07, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Since I've already done so much, why don't you go do a tiny bit of research? I'm a bit offended by this line of questioning, particularly when it's something that on the city's wiki page and something you could easily go look up. --Criticalthinker (talk) 22:51, 5 September 2017 (UTC)
Why are you offended? I'm genuinely curious where you got that information from, that the district is conterminous with the municipality. We can't use wikipedia itself to source wikipedia! I really don't think you should change the city population (from the actual census) until there is proof that it is not the correct population. Especially when it's in the same list as another city you agree is the correct population. Mattximus (talk) 01:11, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
I had not changed, nor was I about to change, the population figure for Karachi. So, you can stop accusing me of things and take that up with the person who originally posted this issue with Karachi's figures. And, again, if you doubt that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation is the local government for Karachi Division, that's for you to research if you care enough to. I was laying out the local government structure of the division, nothing more and nothing less. YOU seem to be the one really mixed up in about how it's shown on the page, here. --Criticalthinker (talk) 01:21, 6 September 2017 (UTC)
Return to "List of cities proper by population" page.