This compelling interactive “bar chart race” shows the top 10 most populous cities in the world from 1500 to 2018.
“In the early 1500s most people lived in the east, either the east of Europe and north Africa or the east of the world itself in India and China,” says John Burn-Murdoch, who created the interactive for the Financial Times.
Beijing begins in the lead and is overtaken by Istanbul around 1600. In the mid-18th century London joins the top three cities in the world, and its population then really starts to soar as the Industrial Revolution gets in full swing.
The UK capital proceeds to race ahead until the 20th century, when it is overtaken by New York and then Tokyo, which remains the world’s most populous city.
The animation ends in 2018 with the top five all in Asia (Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing and Mumbai) and none of the top 10 in Europe or North America.