World Cities, Part 1 – Revision Notes

World Cities Revision Notes



A World City is a city that is a major centre for finance, trade, business, politics, culture, science information gathering and mass media. It is one that serves the whole world and can be considered an important multinational city.  Examples include New York, London and Tokyo.


World cities are resource centres – they grow because companies have access to knowledge, which helps enterprises flourish. They are also learning centres. If companies can learn they enter cycles of growth and development. They are also centres of spatial proximity. Areas such as universities or science parks cradle innovation.


A Mega City is usually defined as a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people. The population density is usually over 2,000 persons/km2.  They can be distinguished from global cities by their rapid growth, new forms of spatial density of population, formal and informal economics, as well as poverty, crime, and high levels of social fragmentation. As of 2011, there are 21 megacities in existence– with conurbations such as Mumbai, Tokyo, New York City, and Mexico City having populations in excess of 10 million inhabitants.


A millionaire city is a city with over a million inhabitants. They were generally found in MEDCs, such as London (7,753,600) and New York (8,363,710). However with the increase in globalisation they have spread in to LEDCs (RICs especially) often at major trading ports, or areas that are becoming economic hubs – such as Mumbai (13,830,884) and Shanghai (13,831,900).



Nearly 50% of the world’s population lives in towns and cities and 19% live in millionaire cities, Megacities and world cities. Most urbanised areas are: North America; South America and Oceania.  Least urbanised are: Asia and Africa. Urban growth is the largest in Asia with 40% of the population living in towns and cities. By 2025, due to large amounts of urbanisation in Asia and Africa, it is expected that 80% of urban dwellers will live in developing countries



Economic development has led to increased urbanisation


This was fuelled by agricultural development, industrial processes, new forms of power, transport systems and improvements in medicine and hygiene.


In 20th Century, biggest cities were in most developed countries- New York, London etc. Since 1950’s, economic development occurred in LEDCs and so this has led to increased urbanisation in developing countries 1960- 9 of worlds 19 biggest countries located in developing countries Economic development led to shift in manufacturing from traditional centres in developed world such as Detroit to lower wage economies e.g. China This has then led to these countries developing and therefore experiencing urbanisation. For example, Mexico City has become more economically developed and therefore has experienced an increase in urbanisation. Countries are moving away from manufacturing and more towards service industries and developing of city centre. So inhabitants move to urban areas in order to gain access to the jobs here


Mumbai – Case Study


  • 14,350,000 people
  • India’s financial centre
  • Authorities struggle to keep up with the rapid growth as people are drawn in from the countryside seeking work and the economy becomes more diversified.
  • Problems are worsened by Mumbai’s site – urban growth was spawned around fishing villages on the Peninsula which create vast planning problems.
  • The British colonial administration had developed the peninsula into a major port.
  • The area around the port became industrialised, processing goods. It grew even more when the British left in 19947.
  • The banking, finance and insurance sectors in the port allowed it to become India’s financial sector. Its economy is growing and it is taking part in the world economy – becoming a world city.
  • The site is becoming crowded.
  • The price of land has rocketed.
  • Migrants are often uneducated and have little skills to make a living.
  • Suburbs built of poorly built housing are springing up.
  • Infrastructure can’t handle the number of people.
  • Squatters often live in dangerous areas.
  • In the 70s the plan was to move the population to the mainland on the east – but it was only partially successful




  • Dharavi is the biggest slum in Asia – home to more than 600,000 people. Its spreads 2km2.
  • It generates US$40m a year.
  • It is just north of central Mumbai and its growth is restricted by the city.
  • The governments of Mumbai and Maharashtra state or now planning the development of the slum. Housing is to be cleared in stage.
  • The Dharavi redevelopment project is developing the slum so that each district has housing, health care, civic amenities, infrastructure, recreational spaces, schools and industries
  • Dharavi is on very valuable land just south of the Mithi River, near the new Bangra Kurla Complex.
  • In 2005 the BKC was flooded, and poor planning for the site was evident. The river was diverted changing drainage in the area, but this left Dharavi, a former swamp, dry.
  • For this reason Dharavi is attractive to real estate.
  • Developers can’t erase the existing industries in the area, so a compromise is reached. There are 4,500 small industries/
  • Under the scheme, people are entitled to 225 sq ft of free space.
  • The project cannot go ahead unless the majority of residents agree to it. Some people claim that the government have used underhand tactics to make people sign the agreement.
  • They also fear that with development, financial pressures will replace planned housing with industry.
  • There are also plans for the expansion of the BKC