You are on page 1of 19

Four Hundred Giant Cities Atop the World

Mattei Dogan
Excerpt from International Social Science Journal (Special Issue on Mega-cities), September 2004, no. 181, pp. 347-360. Abstract One of the most important social changes during the last decades is the accelerated multiplication of giant cities and their growth in all continents, and mostly in the developing countries. The territorial nations are progressively becoming metropolitan states, in which mega-cities and metropolises dominate the economic, social, cultural and political life in many international spheres. The globalization of the world mainly develops in and through the major cities, among which an intensive network of communication of goods, people, and ideas is developing. Social change is visible in many domains but the metropolization of the world is probably one of the most significant and well-documented changes in the last decades.

* * * A World of Giant Cities (Dogan and Kasarda 1988) is progressively replacing the old world of territorial nations. There are in the world today some 400 giant cities having more than one million inhabitants. Among them, 120 have more than two millions and 50 have more than five million; 37 metropolises have between eight and twenty-six million inhabitants. The rapid growth of cities is a relatively recent phenomenon, mostly during the last half century. Looking at todays largest cities we found that Mexico City has grown from 3.1 million inhabitants in 1950 to 17.9 million in 1999. San Paulo from 2.8 million to 17.5 million during the same five decades, that is to say in two generations; Bombay has followed the same itinerary, as Sao Paulo. Cairo has multiplied by more than 5 times, during the same 50 years, and Jakarta performed equally well. Seoul counted about 1 million in 1950, but has reached 10 million in two generations. Teheran; from less than one million to only 7.2 million, in the same period. Istanbul has doubled its population in 15 years; and so did Karachi, Lima, Kinshasa, and many other cities in the Southern hemisphere. See Table 1 for the growth of the 20 largest megacities between 1975-1995. Giant cities fill multiple intertwined, interconnected and cumulative functions. In most cases, they are also sequential in the sense that the city has to play an important role in a given domain before becoming important in another domain. One example of sequential change among many: The common explanation of the Citys (Londons) current international success (as worlds financial center) is that it is an inheritance of the 19th century, of the years when sterling was the center of the world money system, and when Britain was the worlds major colonial power and first industrial nation (McRae & 1

Cairncross, p 1). The financial function, as well as the cultural function (museums, theatres, universities, and splendor) were built on older layers of wealth. Cities fill many important functions. For instance, Tokyo is a dominant city from nine points of view: demographic, industrial-commercial, financial, cultural, political, as a maritime gateway, as an airport, and as a site of international organizations. The same is true for their own countries for London, Paris, Moscow, Cairo, Mexico City, Athens, or Vienna. Other cities fill only some functions. For instance, Rome is not a big industrial city, Los Angeles is not a political capital, and Shanghai is not a cultural center. Sao Paulo is an immense industrial center, but not a cultural and artistic center of Brazil. Lagos is an enormous mega city and a great harbor, but not a major financial place. Comparing large American and European cities, one should consider the public transportation system, particularly the underground infrastructure. The metros in Paris, London, Moscow or Tokyo represent an investment that Los Angeles would need more than 20 or 30 years to build. The cost of the Parisian metro is perhaps equivalent to the cost of the entire production of automobiles in the United States over several year. Such a comparison cannot remain at a statistical level. In comparative analysis of giant cities, the most important dimension is the demographic size, and this is the first criteria for distinguishing the giant cities from the other cities.

Where are the giant cities located?

The majority of giant cities are costal cities or cities on navigable rivers with access to the sea. The giant cities, which do not have navigable waterfronts were nonetheless built long ago on smaller rivers. The sea-orientated giant city is a frequent phenomenon in South Asia, the Atlantic Coast of Africa, and the Mediterranean countries. The role of colonization in the choice of these cities in Asia and West Africa has been stressed by many scholars. Most of the 20 Chinese maritime cities with populations of more than 1 million inhabitants are former treaty ports. There are few costal cities on the Pacific side of Latin America; a look at the map instantly offers the explanation: the Cordilleras are too near the coast. Europe is the only continent highly populated at the center, all other continents are in a sense centrifugal because of the Sahara, the Amazon, the Rockies, the frozen interior of Canada, the Gobi, the Gibson Desert, the Arabian Desert. Giant cities in the middle of a desert, like Teheran or Tashkent are exceptions. Why so many of todays giant cities are built on a waterfront? A pertinent and meaningful explanation has been formulated long ago by Charles H.Cooley (1894). He elaborated a theory of break in transportation: By a break is meant an interruption of the movement at least sufficient to cause a transfer of goods and their temporary storage. If this physical interruption of the movement is all that takes place we have what I may call a mechanical break; but if on account of the close relation between transportation and exchange already pointed out the physical interruption causes a change in the ownership of the transported goods, we have a commercial break. (Cooley 1894, 1930, p. 76). The main cause is physical interruption, for example, a junction of land transportation with water transportation, or of one kind of transportation with another, for sea-ships to riverships or from chariots to railways. A mechanical break implies loading, unloading and intermediate carriage and this is sufficient for the location of a town. A commercial break involves a change in ownership, and it is always at or near the physical interruptions and greatly increases it importance. It requires appliance of economic exchange, merchants and money changers. The commercial city tends to become the seat of manufacturers. Estuaries, isthmuses, confluence of valleys, good harbors, accessible points of intersections of land and navigable rivers, the line where the foot-hills lapse into the plains, all these factors facilitate

the location and the growth of cities. The mere intersection of lines of transportation has no necessary tendency to cause the growth of a commercial city. What is required is a breaktransfer, storage and change of ownership (Cooley, p. 81). Cooleys theory has been buried in the recesses of libraries, forgotten by almost all contemporary scholars of urbanization. Nonetheless, the location of great colonial cities amply confirms Cooleys theory on break in transportation. The colonial port is the perfect example of a commercial break in transportation, of the intersection between road or river and sea. Cooley gave few examples outside the United States and none of todays Third World countries, in large part because most seaports in these countries became giant after 1894, when he wrote. The break in transportation help us to understand better the location of the 400 largest cities of the world. A distinction between three types of countries, based on the age of their urbanization, is useful: 1) The old countries, having urbanized the core areas long before the technological changes came in land and maritime transportWestern, Central, and Eastern Europe; India, China, Japan, the Middle East. No doubt the development of maritime trade since the first industrial revolution had an impact on the growth of many coastal cities but, except for the Chinese trade ports, for most of the contemporary giant cities in these old countries, the notion of break in transportation helps to explain their growth at a certain moment, rather than their location. 2) New countries, independent and already advanced economically and relatively urbanized when railway transport expanded during the nineteenth century typically the United States. In this country the junctions between water transport and railway transport tended to generate large cities. Later the automobile came where the city was, as did the airplane in turn. 3) Colonial countries, heavily rural and agricultural at the time of the European penetrationparticularly Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. The colonial port represented for them much more than a break in transportation: it was a gateway. The notion of gateway seems for those underdeveloped countries at a certain time more appropriate than the notion of a break in transportation. In their Book, 3000 Years of Urban Growth, Tertius Chandler and Gerald Fox offer no explanation for the rise and decline of the worlds largest cities at various epochs. They seems to have ignored Cooleys theory and have not even observed that a high proportion of the largest cities they mention were ports. Such an analysis is not difficult, but of course the largest cities at the end of the Middle Ages were not giant according to present day standards. Of the 25 largest cities Chandler and Fox list for 1750, ten were seaports, eight riverine ports, and three were located on navigable canals. Of the total of 78 cities listed for 1750, two-thirds had access to navigable water. The proportion of ports remains about the same for the 75 cities listed in 1825, even though some appear to us as tiny ports. For instance, Cairo probably had then about 260 thousand inhabitants; Shanghai 115 thousand; Calcutta, 250 thousand: Constantinople, 675 thousand; and New York, 170 thousand. In 1925 among the 25 largest cities, only two were not sea or river ports: Manchester and Birmingham, both fed by maritime transport followed by short land transport, and only two of the largest ports were outside the Atlantic mare nostrum, Calcutta and Shanghai. Sixty years later, in 1985, among the 35 largest metropolises in the world, only Mexico City, Milan, Delhi, Teheran, and Madrid are not ports, and only Cairo, Paris, and the Rhine-Ruhr are riverine ports. The other 26 are seaports ( considering Peking-Tientsin, Sao Paulo-Santos, and Seoul-Inchon as ports).

Some of the largest continental countries have many non-costal cities, Russia and China for instance. Most of the cities of these two countries are nonetheless river cities. Most of the Indian giant cities are not sea-orientated because the interior of this continental country has a rich soil. In Western Europe, one of every three giant city is maritime. The initial location for most of the others are very old, in many cases on a river. The initial location of most of the giant cities is due to hydrographic systems and the access to the sea, but the technology of transport has changed greatly in recent times. There is more international maritime and air traffic between the 30 largest American cities and the 30 largest European cities than the hundreds of middle-sized cities. The title of a book published in the aftermath of the second world war, and which had an enormous impact of the thinking of the French rulers, Paris and the French Desert could be transposed to 40 or 50 other countries: Buenos Ares and the Argentina Pompas, Helsinki and the 1000 Finnish lakes, Manila and the Philippines Archipelago. For other countries the desert has to be taken in a literal sense: Teheran and the Iranian desert, Mexico City and the Mexican plateau, Tripoli and the oil desert and so on.

Monolithic versus multipolar cities

We may distinguish among the 200 independent nations, the countries which are dominated by a single giant city, concentrating more than 20 percent of the urban population; we may call them monolithic or monocephalic countries. We count in 1999, 74 monolithic countries with the major city over one million inhabitants, 30 of them over three million inhabitants. The second type refers to countries which have several big cities, no one dominating the others; these are multipolar, pluricephalic countries. (Tables 2, 3, and 4) Urban macrocephalism1 and urban multipolarity depend in most cases on the size of the country itself. The largest countries, China, India, the United States, Russia, Brazil are characterized by urban multipolarity. In fact, in these large countries, the biggest cities are regionally dominant cities. In China, in addition to the megalopolises of Shanghai and Peking, there are 35 giant cities which enjoy in their own region a dominating position. But many middle-sized countries are also multipoliar, for instance Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Australia. A few countries are bicephalic, like Portugal and Belgium. In table 4 are listed 59 cities over three million inhabitants in multipolar countries. In these multipolar countries, 134 other cities have between one and three million inhabitants. In the monolithic countries, the major cities are what urbanists and demographers call since Mark Jefferson (1939), a primate city, in terms of population size. The concept of hegemonic cities is more complex than the old concept of primate cities. The relative demographic weight of the biggest city in relation to the 3, 4, or 5 other largest cities in a country is only one of the criteria for defining an hegemonic city, but not a sufficient one. In many cases, the hegemonic city dominates a country so much that the national territory appears in maps dealing with demographic, economic, social, cultural, financial, commercial or political phenomenon as a spiders web. The network of communication (television, radio, newspapers) has a single center. A city does not need to be a giant city at the international level in order to play a hegemonic role in the respective country. The size and the wealth of the city has to be weighed in relation to the size and the wealth of the country itself. Kampla is not an impressive giant city, but it plays a dominant role in Uganda. The same is true for Helsinki in Finland or Amman in Jordan.

The word macrocephalism is taken in its literal sense: big head in comparison with the size of the body.

Macrocephalism is a more frequent phenomenon among small countries: Dakar includes two-thirds of the urban population of Senegal. Lome, Acension, Monrovia, Abdijan, Kuala Lampur, Amman, or Ougadougou almost half. Many island-countries, even if they have large populations are macrocephalic, for instance: Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the Philippines, or Haiti. Some macrocephalic countries are the product of history, as much as of geography and ecology. Famous examples are Vienna, capital of a defunct empire, Athens or Copenhagen. For certain comparisons of European countries, it is useful to take into consideration the configuration of cities. All else being equal, the fact that France, Austria, Denmark, and Ireland are macrocephalic countries, and on the contrary, that Germany, Italy or the Netherlands are multipolar makes an important difference in many social and political domains. If Yugoslavia had a single powerful mega city instead of six important regional cities, the dismemberment of the federation would probably have taken a different course. Space is missing in this contribution for a thorough comparison of hegemonic cities. We have to limit ourselves to four illustrative cases. The first example is the Parisian metropolitan area. The map of France looks like as spider web. All roads, railways, highways converge on Paris. The Seine is a small river, but Paris is the third French port. Among the 500 largest companies, 390 have their headquarters in the Parisian agglomeration, particularly in the new satellite district in the West of Paris. Among 280 magazines and specialized newspapers ( financial, educational, sportive, etc.), 245 had their editorial boards in Paris and are printed there. The old expression to climb to Paris, which appears even in classic novels, reflects the itinerary taken during many generations by the most ambitious young men born in the provinces. The typical career of a civil servant starts in the provinces, even if he grows up in Paris, and, if he is successful, ends by promotion to Paris. About 85 percent of the persons listed in Whos Who in France are domiciliated in Paris. The second example is Seoul. The population of Seoul is today six time greater than in 1955 and is estimated to have reached 10 million. About one quarter of the total national population is located in less than one percent of the national territory. In the last decades six satellite cities have been added to Seoul Metropolitan Area. In 1986, about 95 of the countrys 100 largest trading companies and 42 of the 46 family-based industrial conglomerates were concentrated in the central city, mainly in the CBD, as were 62 percent of the head offices of manufacturing firms with equity capital of over 10 million won. Whereas Seoul accounted for 45 percent of the countrys total employment in 1983, it accounted for 90 percent of the employment in trading companies, 56 percent in employment in export industries and 40 percent of employment in the civil service. The situation is not likely to change in the near future. Moreover, although more than a dozen secondary government agencies have re-located in peripheral areas of the capital region, political power continues to reside in Seoul. Likewise, the major colleges and universities, the largest banks (accounting for 63 percent of total deposits and 64 percent of loans), insurance firms, the stock exchange and the media continue to be concentrated in the central city (United Nations Report, 1986). The third example is Budapest. The capital concentrates one fifth of the Hungarian population. But this figures does not reflect the dominance of this city in the economic, administrative, political and cultural life of Hungary. Budapest concentrates 40 percent of the industry; this figure would be higher if the mineral extractive industry were excluded. Three in four important companies are located in Budapest. The network of communication converges to the capital: ten railways radiate in all directions from Budapest. Like in France, someone traveling from the north of the country to the east or west is obliged to pass through Budapest. This is true even for the transport of merchandise. The entire economic production of Hungary is negotiated, sold and bought in Budapest, which functions as an enormous warehouse. More than one third of the trade is done in Budapest. Half of the postal and

telephonic traffic of the country is passes through the capital. Budapest consumes more than half of the electricity produced. In all economic branches, the role of Budapest is outsized, even for agricultural products. The government investment per capita has always been twice as high for Budapest as for the rest of the country. The fourth example is Bangkok. The demographic size of this metropolis (over 7 million today) is fifty times larger than the size of the second largest city in Thailand. It concentrates nearly two-thirds of the urban population of the country. It is a primate city par excellence. But as impressive as these figures would appear, they do not illustrate enough the dominant role played by this metropolis. Bangkok tends to monopolize the entire financial and commercial activity of the country. The harbor of Klaong Toey controls a large part of the exports and imports. Bangkok has accumulated all political, administrative, cultural, and military powers. In it are concentrated most hospitals, doctors, administrative activity. Bangkok accounts for four fifths of Thailands banking, telephones installed, and more than half of the electricity consumed. On the scale multipolarity versus monocephalism, the two extreme countries would be Switzerland and Senegal. Almost all countries could be ranked on this dimension. The distinction between monolithic countries and multipolar countries is blurred in some areas because of the development of conurbations and megalopolises. Since the publication of the Jean Gottmann seminal book in 1961 on the megalopolis of BostonPhiladelphia many others have been described by urbanists. A megalopolis consists in the multiplication of small centers between two or three megapoles along an axis on which a heavy traffic develops. These enormous settlements are continuously built up with rare and small unbuilt areas, but on the whole, the density is relatively high. Among the largest megalopolises and conurbations should be mentioned the megalopolis of Tokaido, PekingTsientsin, Chicago-Great Lakes, Shanghai-Nanking, Randstadt, Ruhr-Hamburg, DjakartaBandung, Cairo-Alexandria, Hong Kong-Canton, Milan-Turin, Changchun-Harbin, Mexico City-Guadalajara, Los Angeles-San Deigo, Buenos Aires-Montevideo, Detroit-Toronto, San Francisco-Standford.

Giant cities in advanced and in developing countries

A distinction should be made between giant cities in advanced countries and in developing countries, because they are facing different stages of development. Today most giant cities in Western Europe or the United States are stagnant, what still continues is the suburban sprawl. On the contrary, in the developing countries, urban gigantism is expanding. Among the 400 giant cities (over one million inhabitants) 103 have more than doubled or tripled their population in twenty years between 1975-1999, but only five of these cities belong to developed countries. All others are located in developing countries (20 in Africa, 18 in India, 11 in China, 8 in Latin America, and the others in Asia or the Middle East.) The main reason for this accelerated rhythm is obvious: even where all kinds of urban pathologies cumulate, the condition of life is better than in the rural areas abandoned by emigrants. The ranking of giant cities on various social indicators follows more or less the ranking of nations. It is therefore important to compare conditions of life in the giant city and in the countryside. Only by such a comparison can it be shown that life is better or worse in the giant city than in the rural areas of the country. There are many studies of giant cities by sectors: housing, public transport, unemployment, criminality, and so on. But most of the them are parallel more than comparative. It is necessary to stress the extreme diversity of the giant cities of the world, which corresponds to the diversity of nations. If we take, for instance, as indicator the percentage of dwellings non-attached to public sewers, the variation is from 0 in the European countries to 100 in Bamako, Bangui, Kinshasa, Mogadicio, Ouagadougou, or Kabul less than

10% of dwellings have access to public sewers. In London, Paris, Stockholm, or Frankfurt, almost 100%. If we take running water, we find nearly 100% in the giant western cities, but between 10 and 20% in Jakarta or Tananarive. The birth rate also varies greatly: form less than 10 per thousand residents in Western European cities to many times higher in Manilla, Pusan, Saigon, Bangkok, Belo Horizonte. The infant morality rate, which is probably one of the best social indicators, discriminates clearly the giant cities in advanced countries and in developing countries, with a few exceptions. The extreme cases are Recife (229) and Cairo (136) against 7 or 8 in Bern, Tokyo and Stockholm. Premature deaths (persons dying under the age of 65 as proportion of all deaths) are four or five times higher in Lagos, Accra, Karachi, Bogota, Guadalajara than in Oslo, Zurich, or Berlin. In his Political Order in Changing Societies (1968), Samuel Huntington asked what groups are most likely to be revolutionary in the city?. How to explain that the lumpenproletariat did not revolt despite the continued growth of shantytowns, favelas (Brazil), poblaciones (Chilli), barriadas (Lima), ciudades esperidada (Mexico), Kutcha (Calcutta), and other slums and bidonvilles at the peripheries of mega-cities from Casablanca to Bogota and from Bombay to Lagos. They do not revolt, in spite of the proximitiy and contrast between high-rise modern buildings and their barracks, because of many reasons, some of them analyzed by Huntington. The urban protest carefully described by John Walton (1987) does not have an idealogical revolutionary orientation, it is sporadic, and looks like riots rather than massive revolts. A complementary question has been asked by demographers or economists: why do millions of people emigrate?. The reply to this question had been too often given in a monodisciplinary perspective. If life conditions were worse in the giant city than in the countryside, people would not emigrate from rural areas or from small cities to giant cities. They emigrate with the hopes of improving their condition of life without knowing what their life would be like in the giant city, but they know there is no alternative to emigration. They are pushed out from the place where they live. This massive phenomenon of emigration, which is occurring in more than 100 nations, everywhere except Europe, the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan, has profound roots. Andrew Kamarck, director of the Institute of Economic Development of the World Bank, has proposed an interdisciplinary explaination about the limits that the climate imposes on the conditions of life and on the agriculture in tropical countries. According to his study, one billion people suffered at that timebut the situation improved slowly and only in some areasfrom various kinds of parasites: trypanosomiase, bilharziose, malaria, onchocerose, ankylostomiasee, filariose. The trypanosomiase, wrote Kamarck, condemns the major part of Africa to remain at the level of agriculture of subsistence. (Kamarck, p. 37) The sickness engendered by ankylostome reaches half a billion people. Millions of persons are contaminated by filariose. All domestic animals are infested by intestinal worms, from one extreme to the other of the tropics (p. 30) As agricultural production does not keep pace with population growth, the emigration of the excess population becomes a necessity. The problem is that the growth of giant cities is rarely sustained by a sufficient rate of their industrialization.

Urban polarity and federalism

There is a relation between macrocephalism and centralization of the state, and also between pluricephalism and federalism. Most of the federal states are pluricephalic countries: the United States, Germany, Canada, India, Nigeria, Australia, Switzerland. Some pluricephalic countries which are not federal are nevertheless consociational democracies, like Belgium or the Netherlands. Others, like Italy, Spain, or Morocco, are characterized by a strong regionalism and by many important cities. The few exceptions confirm the rule:

Mexico or Austria are constitutionally federal states, but in reality, because of their macrocephalism, their federal features are minimal. The causal relationship is difficult to assess. Germany is an effective federal states mainly because it has 33 cities of comparable size, and not only because the historical heritage or because the Allies insisted, at the French request, that the principle of federalism by included in the new German constitution. At least in Europe, cities have preexisted nations; and in Africa, tribes have preexisted the creation of new states. Federalism is rather the result of pluricephalism, and not necessarily the result of ethnic, religious and linguistic pluralism. It is paradoxical that the cities of the macocephalic countries, in spite of all the wealth and powver concentrated in them, or maybe precisely because of this, only very rarely have real municipal independence. The central government tends to control them.

Giant cities and capital cities

In ancient times, states and nations simply did not exist, only cities controlling an extended area of very low density. The ancient empires and kingdoms disappeared when their capital had been destroyed, from Jerusalem to Persepelis, to Carthage. Gingis Kahn understood well the importance of the capital for the survival of the political system. The Red Khmers in Kampucha emptied by force Pnom-Penh in 1975, without destroying it; the dispersed people who survived returned to the capital, which slowly has resurrected and might become again a dominant city. Capitals ruined during World War II, as Berlin or Warsaw were reconstructed, as did Moscow after the defeat of Napoleon. Today, in many countries, the largest city is also the political capital. In some cases, the city has become the capital because it had been already the main economic and cultural center. In turn, the fact of being the political capital has greatly favored the growth of the city. Some capital cities have grown so much that they became dysfunctional in many ways. For this reason the Japanese government is considering the possibility of moving the capital to a distance of 60 kilometers of Tokyo, as did Louis XIV when he established the royal court at Versailles, at a distance of 15 kilometers from Paris. Several countries have deliberately decided to build new capitals far from the old major cities, often in order to avoid a rivalry between two major pretendants: Washington, Brasilia, Islamabad, Ottawa. Delhi has been chosen for the same reason. Many political capitals are also the major cultural centers concentrating a large part of a historical and architectural treasures and symbols of the nations. Capitals are also sites of the administrative bureaucracy.

Cultural Summits
The giant cities had always illuminated the cultural history. These cities host the most interesting human creation, the privileged minorities of talent and wealth, the most beautiful monuments, the venerable testimonies of older times, the temples of rhetoric and of sport, the priests of all ideologies, the most ambitious people, the most enterprising, and the most innovative. What we retain today from the history of civilization is the history of cultural elites, which have lived in Baghdad and Athens, in Sevillia, and in Byzance, in Florence, and in the pre-revolutionary Paris (Eisenstadt & Schachar). It would be possible to rewrite the history of civilizations by jumping from one cultural summit to another by leaps from one major to another. But such an adventure would involve the risk of impressionistic statements. So better that we limit ourselves here just to one example: the city which counts today the largest number of tourists, twenty times higher than its population: Paris. But London, New York, Berlin, or Tokyo would be equally good illustrative examples. Paris benefits from a critical mass of institutions and cultural actors: monumental buildings, museums, theatres, academies, universities, scientific laboratories, artists, writers,

painters, singers, art galleries, publishing houses, fashion designers, printing industry, massmedia, and professionals needed to manage this cultural capital. Paris is one of the most cosmopolitan centers for quaternary activities. Inevitably, it has also a significant number of intellectual proletarians, but that is not a new phenomenon: Florence was also the locale for many poor painters. For one Mozart, there was probably one hundred today unknown musicians. A multi-secular tradition of economic and administrative centralization has established and rooted in the Parisian agglomeration most of the major institutions for production, diffusion, conservation of arts and for the organization of the cultural activities (cinema, television, editions, musical production) and a high proportion of various categories of the production of arts (Menger, p. 1572). Several sociological studies about the French cultural elite have shown that about half of them reside in Paris and even a higher proportion among those active in the movie industry, theatre, and play houses. According to the French census in 1990, 625 among 1,077 art galleries are located in Paris intra muros. More than 85% of books printed in France are edited in Paris. The Parisian theatres attract half of the French public. The media is heavily concentrated in Paris and most of the famous journalists reside in this city. As a sociologist, I cannot resist the temptation to mention that Paris hosts the highest concentration of sociologists in the world! In the last analysis, it is clear that the Parisian cultural summit is nourished by its enormous middle class population and by its economic wealth and dynamic and that it benefits, since long ago, from the favors of the political class. Paris is not totally an independent city; rulers of the country frequently intervene in decisions about the height of the buildings or in the protection of the trees. The proportion of the French national product absorbed by this metropolis is much higher than its demographic importance within France.

The financial peaks

In a series of outstanding books, a number of eminent urbanists have concocted and developed the concept of world city. The first of these series had been an article by John Friedmann and Goetz Wolf: World City Formation, An Agenda for Research and Action (1982). Five years later, Michael Peter Smith and Joe R. Feagin, have published The Capitalist City (1987). Later Richard V. Knight and Gary Gappert published a collection of papers in the volume Cities in a Global Society (1989). Shortly after came World Cities in a World System edited by Paul L. Knox and Peter J. Taylor (1995) and Cities in a World Economy by Saskia Sassen (2000). Parallely, Manuel Castells published several books where he discusses the features of the information society without using the using the label world city. The common dominator of these studies is the emphasis on the role played by international finance in modeling the world network of some giant cities. I have to confess that I am not seduced by the concept of world cities or global cities. I recognize the importance of the social reality that this concept tries to capture and explain, but I found that the concept is overstretched, because it is unidimensional. The life of two billion people who live in the 400 giant cities is not determined, is not conditioned by the international connection a few financial circles. Certainly, these circles are powerful and influential, but they exercise an impact only on a limited number of economic elites. The fact that the headquarters facilities of the largest 500 multinational firms and banks are disproportionally located in the major cities of core countries (Smith and Feagin, p. 6) is an interesting aspect that merits the attention of those who study the capitalist system. But there are many other important features of the metropolization of the world and of its increasing integration that do not justify the use of such an encompassing concept as world city. The demographic size of the giant cities, their geographic location, the dynamic of their industry and commerce, their cultural roles and their diversity, and particularly the social

conditions of the urban proletariat that these giant cities host, all these aspects are neglected by the unidimensional financial definition given to the concept of global city. The interconnection of markets by internet permits today to get information simultaneously within a few minutes from the entire world. The telematic screens, the computers, the telephones and the telescripts facilate an efficient communications between thousands of investors and speculators rendering less necessary the face to face negotiations. Several authors and particularly Saskia Sasen undoubtedly exaggerate the need of the physical vicinity of the financial actors. Because of time-lag between New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Frankfort and Hong Kong, the global market is continuous around the clock. The golden boys need less and less personal vicinity between Wall Street, The City and the Brogniard Palace. There is as much concentration of experts in software for computers and teleproducts in the Silicon Valley or in Bombay than in the high financial peaks. There is a basic theoretical contradiction between the interpretation in terms of informational society and the view of a financial city hierarchy. What Manuel Castells wrote in 1987 is confirmed by the todays financial world configuration: High technology plays a major role in this process of internationalization on different levels. First, it allows communication and decentralized unified management between spatially scattered units, through new telecommunication technologies. Second, high-technology manufacturing epitomizes the new spatial division of labor, with the locationally distinct hierarchy between research and design and assembly-line operations therefore spearheading the new space of global production, facilitated by the light weight of many electronic components, whose value is basically their informational content (Castells p. 105).

Aerial bridges among major cities

The map of contemporary air traffic coincides largely with the map of maritime traffic and the map of highways. The explanation is obvious: the airplane comes to the megacity and not the opposite. The major world airports are almost all located in or near the major cities in all continents. There are very few exceptions such as Denver or Honolulu, but they can be easily explained. A number of major airports are not also giant harbors, but they deserve giant old cities such as Frankfort, Berlin, Moscow, Madrid, Rome, Teheran, Baghdad, Cairo, Vienna, Mexico City and many others. Because they are old cities born a long time ago at the age of river navigation, these giant cities are today major airports. But there are very few major airports that are not located near mega cities. Air traffic among the giant cities is much more intense than between the smaller cities. In a recent study, David A. Smith and Michael F. Timberlake (2001) have analyzed the passenger linkages and the interconnections between the 30 major airports of the world, particularly the long distance flights. They have made a distinction between nodes centrally positioned in giant cities and the terminal airports in cities like Syndey, Buenos Ares, Seoul, and Bombay. From this point of view, the aerial bridge across the Atlantic is like a highway connecting the largest metropolitan areas of the two continents. A person who wants to fly from Burgos to Bergen or from Bloomington to Santa Barbara is obliged to pass through the airport of one or several giant cities. Many cities have invested heavily in physical infrastructures in the recent years to cope with new demands of world traffic. Yue-Man Yeung gives as examples the construction of futuristic airports such as Changi in Singapore, Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong, Kansai in Osaka, the Seoul Lap Kok (paper presented at a conference in 1996). Some are built on reclaimed land.


Mini-states and mega-cities

There are today over 200 independent nations. Only 132 had a population of over 1 million and only 122 over 2 million. One quarter of the countries represented at the United Nations have together a population equivalent to that of Columbia, which ranks 30th. At the same time, half of the worlds population lives in four countries: China, India, the USA and Russia. The 30 largest cities of the world in the year 2000 accumulated all together 344 million inhabitants. This figure equals the total population of 80 among the smallest countries represented at the United Nations. In the 400 giant cities live a number of people equal to the total population of half of the independent countries. Obviously, there is an imbalance in the representations of independent countries in the General Assembly of the UN. The budget of the municipality of New York City or of the Metropolitan District of Mexico City or of the Parisian metropolis is higher than the national budget of dozens of small countries. In reality, in many domains, the weights of the biggest cities is heavier than the weight of dozens of independent nations.

Sites of International Organizations

International organizations are of particular interest because they evolve and cluster in cities with well-developed global linkages. They are also representative of the emergent global society (Knight, 1989, p. 39). An analysis of 10,000 major international organizations and non-governmental organizations shows that two-thirds of their main office or general secretariats are located in 73 cities. Paris, Brussels, London and Rome rank highest. There is some overlapping: the top 25 cities hosting international institutions include 20 major international financial centers and 17 major convention centers (Knox, p. 41). Nonetheless, a certain separation of functions appears clearly. Some cities play an important role in some domains but not in others. In order to satisfy the national ambitions, it has been necessary to distribute the sites of those offices between many capitals. The dispersion of the European Union offices between several capitals has been unavoidable. Many of these locations are not giant cities: Stockholm, Strasbourg, the Haag, Oslo, Nairobi, Tunis, or Luxembourg. The multiple centers of the global system are bound together in a framework forming the global society. It does not appear that global society will take the forum of a hierarchy of cities with one dominant center, but rather a decentralized system of differentiated and pluralist power centers (Knight, p. 42).

Small but beautiful

There are quite a number of small cities (less than 1 million inhabitants, even less than 300,000) who are nonetheless high places for science, culture, and arts. One may distinguish among them the places of famous universities, some old, some not so old: Oxford, Cambridge, the American Cambridge, Heidelberg, Uppsala, Stanford. Other type is the famous historical center of culture such as Weimar, Florence, or Salzburg. Could be mentioned also, the saint cities, highly symbolic, like Jerusalem, Mecca, or Reims. Other privileged places are those that serve as refugees for the very wealthy people. The magazine Worth (June 2001) has inventoried 250 small communities where the price of houses is among the highest in the United States. These communities have a few thousand inhabitants, such as several dozen in the north of San Francisco and Aspen in Colorado and also many on the Atlantic Coast north of New York and the Sea-Island of Georgia. The same phenomenon can be noticed in many protected areas in the neighborhood of giant cities in Europe, Latin America, or South East Asia and which are very different than the golden ghettos, gated for security reasons, as in Jakarta or in some American cities.


From nation-states to metropolitan-states

The great philosopher Aristotle believed that a city has to be large enough to be self sustaining, and small enough so that the herald can address all citizens; it should be no less than 100,000 and no more than 200,000. This statement was seemingly based on a comparison of Greek cities of his time. The philosopher had obviously not predicted the technological advancements that have permitted 25 centuries later the existence of 400 cities with over 1 million inhabitants, many of them over 5 million. The agora of his time has become meanwhile world wide televised arenas. Technology permits today to bring water to Los Angeles from Canada and Colorado in a more efficient and less costly way than the Roman aqueducts. It permits to store food during months, to transport daily millions of people in all giant cities. Without keeping in mind the technology progress in so many domains, it would be impossible to understand how and why the world is becoming increasingly a world of giant cities and of megalopolises. In 1790 there were in the territory of the United States of that time only 20 places with more than 2,500 inhabitants. Because of technological progress, today, there are 20 giant cities in the USA of more than 3 million. Ancient Rome was not only a hegemonic city, it was also a city-empire, after many others, like Assur, Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt, or Persia all centered in a single city. After the Dark Ages, civilization resuscitated in small cities. It was the epoch of duchies-cities like Milan, Florence, Venice, Arles, Cordoba. Is Ivory Coast a nation or just the city of Abidjan with a hinterland? Is Libya a country or just the city-state of Tripoli? Is Canada a solid state or a chain of 10 major cities, three of them prominent? Today some countries are less nation-states than metropolitan-states in the sense that the national strength is rooted in the dominating city. The country is more metropolitan than national. This is particularly visible in the African countries which achieved independence in the last decades, and in some Latin American countries, where the contrast between the giant cities and the underdeveloped rural areas overshadows the differences between the countries. There are fewer differences between Lima, Caracas, Bogot or Quito than between each of these metropolitan cities than the surrounding rural population. In many advanced industrial countries, the proportion of foreign immigrants in the population is much higher in the giant cities than in the small towns or rural areas. The larger the metropolitan area is, the higher the proportion of foreigners tend to be. In London, Paris, Liverpool, Amsterdam, one of every five or six inhabitants is of foreign stock. The most cosmopolitan city in the western world today is probably Los Angeles, surpassing even New York. Perhaps we are moving slowly, but in a perceptible way, from the epoch of the territorial nation-state to the epoch of the metropolitan state.

Castells, Manuel, 1988, High Technology and Urban Dynamics in the United States in M. Dogan and J.D. Kasarda op cit.pp. 85-110. Chandler, Tertius and Gerald Fox, 1974, 3000 Years of Urban Growth, New York, Academic Press. Cooley, Charles Horton 1894, (1930). The Theory of Transportation, Publication of the American Economic Association, IX No 3, reprinted in Sociological Theory and Social Research, 1930, New York, Holt and Co. Dogan, Mattei & John Kasarda. 1988. A World of Giant Cities, and Mega-cities, both volumes, Newbury Park, Sage Publications. Eisenstadt, S.N and A. Schachar, 1986, Society, Culture and Urbanization, Sage Publications. 12

Friedmann, John, 1985, The World City Hypothesis, Graduate School of Architecture,UCLA, Reprinted in Knox & Taylor op. cit. Friedmann, John. 1989, Where we stand: a decade of world city research in Knox & Taylor, op. cit. pp. 21-47. Fu-Chen Lo & Yue-Man Yeung, 1998, Globalization and the World of Large Cities, New York, United Nations University Press. Gottmann, Jean, 1961, Megolopolis, the Urbanized Northeastern Seabord of the United States, New York, The Twentieth Century Fund. Graham, S Marvin, 1996, Telecommunications and the City: Electronic Spaces, London, Routledge. Ho K.C, 2002 Globalization and Southeast Asian Urban Futures, Asian Journal of Social Science, vol 30, 1 pp. 1-7. Huntington, Samuel P., 1968, Political Order in Changing Societies, New Haven, Yale University Press. Jefferson, Mark. 1939. The Law of the Primate City, Geographical Review vol 29, no 2 (April 1939) pp. 226-232. Kamarck, Andrew M., 1976, The Tropics and Economic Development, Washington, The World Bank Publication. Knight, Richard V & Gary Gappert (ed), 1989, Cities in a Global Society. Newbury Park, Sage Publications. Knight, Richard 1989, The Emergent Global Society, Knight and Gappert op. cit 24-43. Knox, Paul L. & Peter J. Taylor (ed). 2000, World Cities in a World System, Cambridge University Press. McRae, Hamish and Francis Cairncross, 1984, Capital City London as a Financial Center, London, Methuen. Menger, Pierre-Michel, 1993, Lhgmonie parisienne: economie et politique de la gravitation artistique Annales, November-December, pp. 1565-1600. Sassen, Saskia, 2000, Cities in a World Economy. London Pine Forge Press. Smith, Michael P & Joe R. Feagin (ed), 1987 The Capitalist City. Oxford, Blackwell Sheffield, Charles, 1983, Man on the Earth. Civilization and Technology changed the Face of the WorldA survey from Space, New York, Macmillan. United Nations, Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, 1986, Population Growth and Policies in MegaCities: Seoul, New York. Wolton, John, 1987, Urban Protest and the Global Political Economy: the IMF Riots, The Capitalist City, edited by M.P. Smith and Joe R. Feagin, op-cit. M. 364-386.


Table 1

The 20 largest Mega Cities

In Millions in 1999 1 Tokyo 2 Mexico City 3 Sao Paolo 4 Bombay, India 5 New York 6 Los Angeles 7 Shanghai 8 Lagos 9 Calcutta 10 Buenos Aires 11 Dhaka 12 Karachi 13 Delhi 14 Osaka 15 Beijing 16 Jakarta 17 Manila Metro 18 Rio 19 Cairo 20 Seoul 26,4 17,9 17,5 17,5 16,6 13,0 12,9 12,8 12,7 12,4 11,7 11,4 11,3 11,0 10,8 10,6 10,5 10,5 10,3 9,9 % growth 1975-1995

30 47 65 120 3 39 15 211 51 30 337 144 125 12 27 90 86 30 57 51

Source: U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 1999


Table 2

Urban Monocephalism
Cities of over 3 million inhabitants where reside more than 20% of the total urban population in 1999

Millions of inhabitants

% urban population in the dominant city

1 Abidjan, Ivory Coast 3,2 2 Athens, Greece 3,1 3 Baghdad, Iraq 4,7 4 Bangkok, Thailand 7,1 5 Bogot, Colombia 6,2 6 Buenos Aires, Argentina 12,4 7 Cairo, Egypt 10,3 8 Casablanca, Morocco 3,4 9 Dhaka, Bangladesh 11,7 10 Guatemala City, Guatemala 3,1 11 Hanoi, Viet-Nam 3,7 12 Ho Chi Minh City, Viet-Nam 4,5 13 Karachi, Pakistan 11,4 14 Hong Kong (before 1999) 6,8 14 bis Hong Kong, China 6,8 15 Kinshasa, Congo 4,9 16 Lagos, Nigeria 12,8 17 Lima, Peru 7,3 18 Lisbon, Portugal 3,8 19 Melbourne, Australia 3,2 20 Manilla, Philippines 10,5 21 Mexico City, Mexico 17,9 22 Paris, France 10,8 23 Pyongyang, North Korea 3,1 24 Santiago, Chile 5,4 25 Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep. 3,5 26 Seoul, South Korea 10,0 27 Singapore 3,5 28 Sidney, Australia 3,6 29 Tokyo, Japan 26,4 30 Yangon, Myanmar 4,1

48,2 48,9 27,3 59,2 20,2 37,9 34,2 22,4 38,6 71,4 23,8 24,5 20,5 100,0 3,0 32,5 27,2 39,9 60,4 20,0 24,5 24,8 21,6 22,1 42,4 65,4 26,3 100,0 23,0 26,5 33,4


Table 3

Urban Monocephalism
Cities between 1 and 3 million
inhabitants where reside more than 20% of the total urban population in 1999

Millions of inhabitants in 1999

% urban population in the dominant city

1 Acora, Ghana 2 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 3 Aleppo, Syria 4 Amman, Jordan 5 Antananarivo, Madagascar 6 Asuncion, Paraguay 7 Baku, Azerbaijan 8 Beirut, Lebanon 9 Brazzaville, Congo 10 Budapest, Hungary 11 Comakry, Guinea 12 Copenhagen, Denmark 13 Dakar, Senegal 14 Damascus, Syria 15 Dar-en-Salaam, Tanzania 16 Douala, Cameroon 17 Guayaquil, Equator 18 Harare, Zimbabwe 19 Havana, Cuba 20 Helsinki, Finland 21 Kabul, Afghanistan 22 Khartoum, Sudan 23 La Paz, Bolivia 24 Luanda, Angola 25 Lusaka, Zambia 26 Maputo, Mozambique 27 Minsk, Belarus 28 Montevideo, Uruguay 29 Nairobi, Kenya 30 Port-au-Prince, Haiti 31 Porto, Portugal 32 Quito, Equator 33 San Juan, Puerto Rico 34 San Salvador, El Salvador

1,9 2,5 2,1 1,4 1,4 1,2 1,9 2,0 1,2 1,8 1,8 1,4 2,0 2,3 2,2 1,6 2,2 1,7 2,2 1,1 2,5 2,6 1,4 2,6 1,6 2,9 1,8 1,2 2,2 1,7 1,9 1,7 1,4 1,4

25,8 24,1 24,8 28,9 31,9 41,3 43,8 69,6 67,1 28,6 74,8 30,2 46,8 26,7 21,6 22,6 27,6 40,2 26,7 33,4 52,3 24,4 28,5 61,0 40,0 38,1 24,2 41,0 23,2 59,9 30,1 21,0 47,5 48,0


35 Santiago, Dominican Rep. 36 Sofia, Bulgaria 37 Stockholm, Sweden 38 Tashkeut, Uzbekistan 39 Tibiri, Georgia 40 Tel-Aviv, Israel 41 Tripoli, Libya 42 Tunis, Tunisia 43 Vienna, Austria 44 Yerevan, Armenia

1,5 1,2 1,6 2,1 1,3 2,1 1,8 1,9 2,1 1,3

27,7 20,8 21,3 23,5 43,4 38,5 37,1 30,3 39,2 52,2

Source: U.N. Department of Economics and Social Affairs, 1999


Table 4

Urban Pluricephalism
Cities of over 3 million
inhabitants where reside less than 20% of the total urban population in 1999

Millions inhabitants in 1999 1 Ahmedabad, India 2 Alexandria, Egypt 3 Ankara, Turkey 4 Bendung, Indonesia 5 Bangalore, India 6 Beijing, China 7 Belo Horizonte, Brazil 8 Berlin, Germany 9 Bombay, India 10 Calcutta, India 11 Cape Town, South Africa 12 Caracas, Venezuela 13 Changchun, China 14 Chengdu, China 15 Chicago, USA 16 Chongquing, China 17 Cologne, Germany 18 Dallas, USA 19 Delhi, India 20 Detroit, USA 21 Dsseldorf, Germany 22 Essen, Germany 23 Frankfurt, Germany 24 Guadalajara, Mexico 25 Guangzhou, China 26 Houston, USA 27 Hyderabad, India 28 Istanbul, Turkey 29 Jakarta, Indonesia 30 Lahore, Pakistan 31 London, Great Britain 32 Los Angeles, USA 33 Madras, India 34 Madrid, Spain 35 Milan, Italy 36 Monterey, Mexico 37 Montreal, Canada 4,1 4,0 3,1 3,3 5,4 10,8 4,1 3,3 17,5 12,7 3,0 3,1 3,0 3,3 6,9 5,0 3,0 3,9 11,3 3,8 3,2 6,5 3,7 3,8 3,9 3,3 6,6 9,0 10,6 5,8 7,6 13,0 6,5 4,1 4,2 3,3 3,4

% urban population in the dominant city 1,5 13,3 6,4 4,0 1,9 2,7 3,0 4,6 6,2 4,5 14,8 15,2 0,1 0,8 3,3 1,3 4,2 1,8 4,0 1,8 4,5 9,1 5,1 5,3 1,0 1,6 2,3 18,8 12,7 10,5 14,5 6,1 2,3 13,3 11,1 4,6 14,4


38 Moscow, Russia 39 Nagoya, Japan 40 New York, USA 41 Osaka, Japan 42 Philadelphia, USA 43 Porto Alegre, Brazil 44 Poona, India 45 Pasau, South Korea 46 Rio, Brazil 47 Rijadh, Saudi Arabia 48 Saint Petersburg, Russia 49 Salvador, Brazil 50 San Francisco, USA 51 Sao Paulo, Brazil 52 Shanghai, China 53 Shenyang, China 54 Teheran, Iran 55 Tianjin, China 56 Toronto, Canada 57 Washington DC, USA 58 Wuhan, China 59 Xian, China

9,3 3,1 16,6 11,0 4,4 3,6 3,4 3,8 10,5 3,2 5,1 3,1 4,0 17,5 12,9 4,8 7,2 9,1 4,6 3,9 5,0 3,1

8,2 3,2 7,8 11,1 2,1 2,7 1,2 10,1 7,7 17,9 4,5 2,3 1,9 12,9 3,2 1,2 17,5 2,3 19,3 1,8 1,3 0,2

Source: U.N. Department of Economics and Social Affairs, 1999