Tokyo: Largest City in the Known Universe (and Props to Alasdair Rae)
Over the past week or 10 days or so on the Japan-focused internets, this black and red Natural Earth map (we think that’s the projection) has been passed around quite a bit. There really are too many sub-sources to cite, but because they’re actually cool people and not content poachers, TokyoDesu.com is one we’ll mention (and recommend).
Detailed are the nations of the world with populations exceeded by that of the Tokyo Metropolis, which, at current estimates, is around 37.2 million souls. The map starkly illustrates this reality on a global scale: Tokyo has more residents than 136 nations of the world - for the number likers, that’s about 70%.
Discussion, reference, and contextualization of Tokyo’s massive population vis-à-vis geographical area are favorites around here. Some stuff:
- Population of Japan: ~127 Million (11th overall)
- Tokyo Metro Land Area: 13,500 km² (5,200 mi²), second in size only to the New York Metro Area at 30,671 km² (11,842 mi²), whose population Tokyo’s exceeds by about 17 million people. Which means that, if New York had Tokyo’s population density, it would be home to about 73 million people. Holy crap.
- Japan’s Urbanized Population: 91.3%
- Habitable Land Area: ~30% of total, which means Japan’s entire population is squeezed into an area about 30% the size of the state of California or the nation of Germany.
- Just for Fun - Obesity Rate: 5% (157th overall, get to work, chubbehs!)
And to those who take issue with the issue, trolling on about how “Tokyo isn’t a city, it’s a collection of 23 special wards and stuff blah blah blah...” and whatnot, firstly we say “SHHHH!!” Secondly, while we’re aware of the system of incorporation, we advise naysayers to go anywhere in the Metro Area, take a look around, and ask themselves “Does basically everywhere look like a city?” And then thirdly, we say “See? Now SHHHHHHHH.” And we win.
Obsessors on Geography & Social Stats Unite!
You certainly don’t have to live in Japan or Tokyo to appreciate the awesomeness; case in point: the creator of this lovely little map is Professor Alasdair Rae, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, U.K. And sincerely, we thank him - it warms our dorky hearts to share the work of a like-minded perspective nerd. By the way, it would take ~23 Sheffield Metro Areas to equal 1 Tokyo!
There’s only one aspect of Professor Rae’s map with which we disagree; he comments:
“Yes, it’s a bit pointless, but it’s also true…”
On the contrary, the profound reality this map illustrates actually calls up some very important points for all of humanity. Given it's massive, dense population:
- Why is Tokyo so safe?
- Why is Tokyo so clean?
- How is it possible that all these people manage to commute?
- Not a single building in Tokyo collapsed from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, why/how?
- And, perhaps most importantly, what can all the nations of the world, particularly the really screwed up ones, learn from what is, in many ways, the singular vanguard of human civility?
But okay, we can forgive that little point because dude made an awesome map and also because it's hard to be a smartass when you're a professor.
If you dig this stuff like we do, check out Professor Rae’s academic profile here, take a look at his exquisitely geektastic blog, Under the Raedar, and give him a follow on Twitter. We're sure that he has better things to do with his time than complain about proper attribution, but still - he deserves the props.
At last, here’s the map. Click to go the full-size original.
Countries with a Smaller Population than Tokyo:
Another of our Favorites:
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