Shifting Power: Visualizing The World's Largest Cities For The Last 6000 Years

Tyler Durden's picture

In 300 B.C., Carthage was one of the world’s largest cities with up to 700,000 people living within its walls. The Carthaginian republic was a force to be reckoned with, controlling inconceivable amounts of wealth and land all around the Mediterranean.

However, just over a century later in 146 B.C., Carthage was burnt to the ground by the Romans. The destruction of Carthage was so thorough that many things are still not known about their civilization today. Carthage went from being a major power to literally being wiped off of the map.

A few decades after the annihilation of Carthage, it was Rome’s turn to become the world’s largest city for close to 500 years. Of course, Rome itself would fall by 476 A.D. for a variety of reasons.

And so the title of the world’s largest city would transfer again, this time to Constantinople across the Mediterranean.

The World’s Largest Cities Throughout History

In the grand scheme of history, things change quite fast. As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins explains, one cataclysmic choice or event can turn even the greatest empire into a heap of rubble. Sometimes the decline of a world-class city is more gradual – and it is over time that it loses its title to another place in a far and distant land.

The following animated map from KPMG Demographics tracks the world’s largest cities from 4,000 BC to today, and it shows how temporary a city’s rise to prominence can be.

World's Largest Cities Throughout History
(Keep in mind that there is some disagreement by historians over which cities were the biggest in certain time periods.)

The power of industrialization and technology can be seen here. Up until the 1800s, it was almost unfathomable to have a city of more than a million inhabitants.

Sanitation was a major limiting factor, but other issues like transportation and a lack of density also made it a challenge. The Industrial Revolution changed that, and starting in the 1800s you see cities like London, New York, and Tokyo taking the title in an exponential fashion. It caps off with Delhi in 2050, expected to have a whopping 40 million inhabitants by that time.

Source: Visual Capitalist

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
James TraffiCan't's picture

No, really...I was there during all those time periods. 

Beam me up, Scotty..."And open that fouth bottle of Scotch."

Escrava Isaura's picture

King Trump The Irrelevant

Put another way, dollar preference is the convergence between the value of the oil capital and the dollars that are exchanged for it. Fuel by itself is worth more than the real-world enterprises that make use of it regardless of what means are used to ‘adjust’ the price. By this way of reasoning, fuel in the ground in North Dakota is worth more than fuel wasted in a car stuck in traffic on an LA Freeway.

Business (wasting) enterprises earn nothing on their own and are essentially worthless. They exist solely to borrow, gaining- and making use of credit is their primary product: other goods and services are intended to justify credit issuance in ever-increasing amounts. Part of this stream becomes the property of well-positioned ‘entrepreneurs’: enormous unearned borrowed profits are what drives the system. When debt = wealth, there is an incentive to take on as much debt as possible, keep what you can for yourself and to shift the retirement- and servicing burdens onto others.

Our economy as nothing more than a vast cost-shifting regime.


Heavy's picture

ancient india was smaller than i remember...

Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

I dont hold a grudge, and Im not racist, but: them fuckn cunts from Ur in 1800 BC - what a bunch of pricks

Holy hand grenade of Antioch's picture
Holy hand grenade of Antioch (not verified) Squid-puppets a-go-go Dec 25, 2016 3:08 PM

6,000 years


Isn't that, like, how old the Earth is? Or is it, like, 1 in ten of the lampshades in Germany?


BTW ~ I was wondering... How exactly does one get the Zyklon B 'off' the lampshade (so that it's safe for consumer use)?


Has anyone ever told that story? Or is it more like... Nobody bothered to tell it

zeronetwork's picture

In 2050 you will be able to smell shit from India here in real time.

assistedliving's picture

talk about irrelevant.  As in Escravura is far more relevant?  Your poor students are sucked into your economic black hole.  You are

a learning-shifting regime in reverse

fleur de lis's picture

Off topic but I really like your icon.

James Trafficant was a great and loyal American, a truly rare commodity.

For putting America first and boldly speaking the truth about DC corruption he paid the ultimate price.

He came to the same end as Sen. LT McFadden, and for the same reasons by the same people.


BrownCoat's picture

James Traficant was expelled from the House after being convicted of taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering and forcing his aides to perform chores at his farm in Ohio and houseboat in Washington, D.C. -- Wiki

Sounds like your typical Dirty Crook sociopath, aka D.C. politician. 

Urban Redneck's picture

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.


Merry Christmas!

Bunghole's picture

You sound like someone stuck in the read team/blue team debate.

Eyes wide shut.

Merry Christmas

Urban Redneck's picture

Eyes wide shut... perhaps, DSK is a prude.  But the red/blue bill dichotomies are really for the color blind who find themselves trapped in or at the periphery of the Matrix, which I am most certainly not.

Merry Christms

fleur de lis's picture

You must be one of the biggest MSM fans on this board.

tmosley's picture

Dehli will have a population of a few hundred thousand in 2050 if Mohdi keeps destroying the fundamental underpinnings of society.

Escrava Isaura's picture

Dehli will have a population of a few hundred thousand in 2050


Most will be starving to death by 2030, if not sooner. India oil production peaked exactly 40 years after the US, in 2011. India is producing about 700 thousand of oil  a day but consuming over 4 million barrels of oil a day, and growing. Its population is growing over 16 million a year.

“I do not think what we face is a problem. It is a predicament. And predicaments do not have solutions.” — Greg Machala


Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

escrava, you are an unrelentingly misanthropic prick. But in this case..... rather accurate

New_Meat's picture

Yep, Thomas Malthus was right about the Corn Laws and his other "mathematically provable" assertions, too.

The Ram's picture

I don't see good things for India.  Too many mouths to feed and a small middle class dependent on western growth.  Where are all the H1B visas going to go when the US economy crashes hard?  The meager US growth or at least maintenance of some economy is one of the few things keeping the world economy propped up.  As the US and EU consumer sector crators in coming years, Asian countries will have few outlets for their overproduction.  China will not allow a true consumer economy and most Chinese working in the shit holes they call factories appear to be happy with their long work days and another day, another yuan.  Of course, I see it here in America.  I work in IT for a medium sized company and what I see is just wage slavery.  People will never make enough to be comfortably retired at a reseasonable age (lets say at 60 or below).  They will work until they drop or retire for perhaps for a few short years if they are lucky.  It's sad.  A world full of slaves.  But, when the slaves cannot be fed, violence on an industrial scale will begin world wide. We could see this in 10 years or less.

sleigher's picture

Merry Christmas Zerohedge folks.   I hope all of you have a happy holiday season with your people. 

scsherman's picture
scsherman (not verified) sleigher Dec 25, 2016 9:00 AM

Go fuck yourself, Bah Humbug!

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

A good Carrigton Event would fix all that.

No electricity for 1-3 years, and the world population plummets 70-90%. As it needs to.

MalteseFalcon's picture

Yes, the population needs to plummet, except for me - every single "population expert"

delmar Jackson's picture

Africa is estimated to have 4 billion by the end of the century while all western white countries are declining.

moorewasthebestbond's picture

Do not feed the pigeons. They will circle back and shit all over you.

mcl2177's picture

A continent that has never accomplished anything

ZD1's picture

True dat. It helped spawn Ohomo who has wrecked havoc in the US and around the world.

Ital Scratch's picture

Ramses II begs to differ.

Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

aside from the agricultural age. And the first architects. And glyphics. And astronomy. 

And Nubian Pussy. Can I rest my case?

OldTrooper's picture

Don't confuse Mediterranean with African, Squid.

squid's picture

Cutoff all of the deficit financed western vaccination programs and the numbers in Africa will take care of themselves.



GreatUncle's picture

We give aid to nations so their populations do not starve.

Those populations then grow and the starvation is back.

If resources are available a population will grow to utilise them.

Now in the west, a population shrinking implies the level of resources per person is falling.

Where this gets ugly the elites apply a mass immigration policy to keep the numbers up because they have snaffled all the resources.

The only way to stop it is kill the elites off.


Withdrawn Sanction's picture

"Now in the west, a population shrinking implies the level of resources per person is falling."

Sorry, no.  As the denominator in a fraction gets smaller, the result gets larger.  Which is bigger a fifth or a half gallon of bourbon?   

That begs the question, what are they up to w/unrestricted migration?  It certainly isn't to preserve western living standards, as your statement implies. 

scsherman's picture
scsherman (not verified) delmar Jackson Dec 25, 2016 9:05 AM

And yet they will still have the most unfarmable land on the planet and inability to extract and sell or utilize natural resources without outside intervention. They will continue to live barbaric tribal lives constantly at war, pass STDs, and be the breeding ground for extincition level pathogens. They are a continent of savages that have never created or adatpted anything useful. They don't possess the collective IQ to civilize themselves. They will never be a threat to anyone or anything so long as they are prevented from aquiring nuclear weapons. Even the filthy sand niggers are too smart to ever use nuclear weapons, but true niggers would drop those bombs as soon as they got riled up into a monkey shit fight like at the zoo.

Al Armed's picture

For every lovely on the dole,

Mandatory birth control.


Pay them not to breed.

Minburi's picture

Some of those ancient numbers were more than likely pulled out of somebody's ass.

moorewasthebestbond's picture

Either way, a chart adjusted for the then-current world population would be nice.

AZLagun's picture

The revised numbers will be out next month.

MassDecep's picture

A pause button would be nice

Minburi's picture

As I have recently been to Delhi, one has to wonder about the future there. As times get tough, which will the starving people start to eat first, the cows or the other people?

Dubaibanker's picture

Delhi has turned into an insensitive ghetto over the last 2 odd decades.

Indians generally are so fearful of the state that they never object to anything.

They have also developed an attitude that anything goes......and also Delhi is filled with political fixers, inept and corrupt people except for the working slaves (masses).

They won't eat anyone because there are many para military forces standing everywhere or sent when required because of the fake terror attacks and some real ones around the nation.

Indians have become so insensitive due to so many terrorist attacks, bus burnings, rapes, robberies, lack of opportunity, the sheer stress of daily lives that they behave like sheeple.

Delhi is the worst because all the political elite live here and shooting anyone at will due to slighting someone at the mall or on the street is as easy as having a glass of water and then getting away with it.

People pray everyday that nothing happens to them that day, because if anything does, not even God can help them!

And rapes...that's indulging in a past time like going to the movies in the West. Can pick and choose any show, horror, comedy, terror, drama....can also be mixed with blood and gore.

Withdrawn Sanction's picture

Well, they're independent of the Crown anyway.  There's that, I suppose.  

Dubaibanker's picture

Yes, the crown stopped pillaging, so that was good.

India had it's best years in the 1950-1980 period when life was stable, safe, everyone was growing and India stabilised.

Somewhere in 1980's the rot set in.

It bankrupted the nation by 1991.

Since then until 2010-2014, India just kept juggling from one crisis to another (currency, outward immigration, black money, best talent leaving for safe havens, medicare disintegrated, pollution and traffic got impossible, weak banking system, terrible infra, massive losses at all Govt entities, lack of food and toilets in the 21st century for the masses etc).

Now band aid solutions also don't work and the whole thing is at the precipice of an unprecedented collapse.

My view for India was same like the Manmohan Singh-PM for 10 yeras and a world renowned economist, that if it is not broken, don't fix it, don't even think of it and don't touch anything! Because even God doesn't know how India works. Problem of India is that if you try to fix one thing, 10 other things come off the rails, so best is to let ir run. And there is absolutely no relation the 10 things falling paart and the one that was changed.

But some idiots like corrupt people that are the politicians, greedy ones like Infosys, Wipro and Apollo Hospitals arrived and privatised whatever was left and sucked everyone dry leaving the Govt institutions worse off. even new banks started which attracted all the talent. 

On paper, India was a tiger. BRICS and all that fake stock indices rising on PAPER. Underneath, it was still hurting from 1991 and had only worsened the condition.

Now all Indians pay the price because nothing happened in the last 10 years, but now the Hitler Modi has initiated a decision that has no parallel anywhere worldwide in history and is taking India down a tragic path of collapse which is a social - monetary experiment on 1.3 billion guinea pigs!

It will be unreal how Govt will lose control and make the house of cards fall apart. No Govt would have taken India down economically, socially, morally so fast ever in any country, at least not in India!

And those Crown people who still interfere and think they caused no harm but did irreparable damage to India and all other colonies have a lot of blame to take but that's another chapter.

scsherman's picture
scsherman (not verified) Dubaibanker Dec 25, 2016 9:14 AM

At no point have you mentioned personal responsibility. Ultimately the people give control and validity to their governement. Indian culture and Indian people are to blame for all of it. The government, military, economy, etc. are all just manifestations of what the people want and are willing to accept. The problem is they all think they have a chance to reach the top and be in control, but none of them are taking any personal responsibility for the shithole of a country they have created. Blaming the British is just like Obama blaming Bush. Indians are wholly corrupt, superstitious, lazy people. They take no responsibility for their own actions and expect others to give them things or fix things for them. Per capita they are the least productive nation on Earth. They have a population that rivals China yet they trail behind in almost every conceivable way. If anything the British modernized their country enough to give them a blueprint for success which they have squandered.