30 countries where much (or most!) of the population lives in one city, like Israel, Japan, and Greece

tomlamela/iStockAbout 30% of Japan’s population lives in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Many countries, like the US and China, have huge populations spread out over a vast area in dozens or hundreds of cities and towns. But in some parts of the world, the big city dominates.

The United Nations provides estimates of the populations of the world’s countries and large cities. The database includes estimates for the populations of over 1,800 major urban areas with at least 300,000 residents.

We used the 2019 population estimates for the cities and countries in the database to find the share of each country’s population living in its largest city. In addition to being limited to countries that include urban areas with populations over 300,000, we also excluded city-states like Singapore and sub-regions of countries, like Hong Kong, China and Puerto Rico, United States.

We found the 30 countries with the largest share of the population living in the biggest city. The countries are geographically spread out, ranging from North Macedonia in Europe to Mongolia in Asia to Argentina in South America. Most of the countries have relatively small populations, but a handful, like Japan, have populations over 100 million.

Here are the countries where a huge share of the population lives in the largest city:


30. Nouakchott, Mauritania, had a population of 1,259,000, which was 27.8% of the country’s population of 4,526,000.

Joe Penney/ReutersA woman shields her child from the wind while walking on sand dunes in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

29. Skopje, North Macedonia, had a population of 590,000, which was 28.3% of the country’s population of 2,083,000.

ReutersA converted supermini car Zastava 750, which has its combustion engine replaced with an electric one by BB Classic Cars, drives in Skopje.

28. Lisbon, Portugal, had a population of 2,942,000, which was 28.8% of the country’s population of 10,226,000.

ReutersPortugal’s Prime Minister and Socialist Party candidate Antonio Costa meets supporters in Lisbon.

27. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, had a population of 2,833,000, which was 29.0% of the country’s population of 9,771,000.

ReutersA booth on a beach in Dubai carrying the Expo 2020 logo.

26. Bata, Equatorial Guinea, had a population of 395,000, which was 29.1% of the country’s population of 1,356,000.

AP Photo/Ariel SchalitEquatorial Guinea’s soccer team supporters cheer as they ride on a military vehicle to the Estadio De Bata ahead of the African Cup of Nations opening match between Equatorial Guinea and Libya in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012.

25. Tokyo, Japan, had a population of 37,435,000, which was 29.5% of the country’s population of 126,860,000.

Charly Triballeau / AFP / GettyA woman protects herself from the sun with an umbrella during a heatwave as she crosses the street in Tokyo’s Shibuya district on August 4, 2019.

24. Monrovia, Liberia, had a population of 1,467,000, which was 29.7% of the country’s population of 4,937,000.

Wikimedia/CC/Erik (HASH) HershmanDowntown Monrovia, Liberia.

23. Athens, Greece, had a population of 3,154,000, which was 30.1% of the country’s population of 10,473,000.

Associated PressMilitary aircraft fly over the temple of the Parthenon during a parade in Athens, on Monday March 25, 2019. The parade commemorates Greek Independence Day, which marks the start of the war of independence in 1821 against the 400-year Ottoman rule.

22. Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, had a population of 579,000, which was 30.1% of the country’s population of 1,921,000.

Wikimedia Commons/NammarciDowntown Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, photographed from Pensao Central balcony.

21. Muscat, Oman, had a population of 1,502,000, which was 30.2% of the country’s population of 4,975,000.

Chris Jackson/GettyA view of the skyline in Muscat, Oman.

20. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, had a population of 3,245,000, which was 30.2% of the country’s population of 10,739,000.

Shutterstock/Daniel-AlvarezDancers parading at ‘Malecon’ Carnival on March 6, 2011 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

19. Lima, Peru, had a population of 10,555,000, which was 32.5% of the country’s population of 32,510,000.

Christian Vinces/ShutterstockLima, Peru.

18. Auckland, New Zealand, had a population of 1,582,000, which was 33.1% of the country’s population of 4,783,000.

ReutersA rainbow appears on the Auckland skyline featuring Sky Tower in New Zealand.

17. Riga, Latvia, had a population of 634,000, which was 33.3% of the country’s population of 1,907,000.


16. Tallinn, Estonia, had a population of 441,000, which was 33.3% of the country’s population of 1,326,000.

Jordan Mansfield/GettyView of the city’s main gates in Tallinn, Estonia.

15. Buenos Aires, Argentina, had a population of 15,057,000, which was 33.6% of the country’s population of 44,781,000.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesThe Obelisco de Buenos Aires is seen on July 11, 2014 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

14. Beirut, Lebanon, had a population of 2,407,000, which was 35.1% of the country’s population of 6,856,000.

ReutersTwo men hold a Lebanese national flag as they pose for a photo on the rooftop of the ‘Egg’, an abandoned cinema building in Beirut, Lebanon, October 25, 2019.

13. Santiago, Chile, had a population of 6,724,000, which was 35.5% of the country’s population of 18,952,000.

REUTERS/Ivan AlvaradoParticipants in costume dance during a parade commemorating Earth Day in downtown Santiago, April 22, 2013.

12. Manama, Bahrain, had a population of 600,000, which was 36.6% of the country’s population of 1,641,000.

Getty/Husain AbbasManama, Bahrain.

11. Yerevan, Armenia, had a population of 1,083,000, which was 36.6% of the country’s population of 2,958,000.

MehmetO/ShutterstockYerevan, Armenia.

10. Libreville, Gabon, had a population of 824,000, which was 37.9% of the country’s population of 2,173,000.

REUTERS/Edward McAllisterA military convoy in Gabon’s capital of Libreville, following a ruling by the constitutional court confirming the election victory of President Ali Bongo, September 24, 2016.

9. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, had a population of 544,000, which was 39.0% of the country’s population of 1,395,000.

Blacqbook / ShutterstockCarnival Monday aftermath in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

8. Brazzaville, Congo, had a population of 2,308,000, which was 42.9% of the country’s population of 5,381,000.

AFP via Getty ImagesCongolese voters gather outside the Nkouka Boussoumbou de Madibou school used as a polling station in Brazzaville on July 30, 2017, while ballots are counted at the end of the second round of the country’s legislative elections.

7. Panama City, Panama, had a population of 1,822,000, which was 42.9% of the country’s population of 4,246,000.

Rodrigo Cuel/ShutterstockPanama City, Panama.

6. AsunciĆ³n, Paraguay, had a population of 3,279,000, which was 46.5% of the country’s population of 7,045,000.

Jorge Saenz/APCommuters in AsunciĆ³n, Paraguay.

5. Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel, had a population of 4,097,000, which was 48.1% of the country’s population of 8,519,000.

REUTER/ Nir EliasTel Aviv, Israel.

4. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, had a population of 1,553,000, which was 48.2% of the country’s population of 3,225,000.

In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty ImagesUlaanbaatar, Mongolia.

3. Montevideo, Uruguay, had a population of 1,745,000, which was 50.4% of the country’s population of 3,462,000.

ShutterstockMontevideo, Uruguay.

2. Djibouti, Djibouti, had a population of 569,000, which was 58.4% of the country’s population of 974,000.

DeAgostini/Getty ImagesThe old port of Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti.

1. Kuwait City, Kuwait, had a population of 3,052,000, which was 72.5% of the country’s population of 4,207,000.

trabantos / Getty ImagesDowntown Kuwait City, Kuwait.

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