As of 2018, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and by 2050 this number will reach more than 68 percent. Mexico’s cities are no different, with more than half of the population living in 54 different cities. Urbanization is name of the game and the important this is that each city establishes its rules.

The World Cities

According to the UN’s World Urbanization Prospects 2018:

  • In 2018, the urban population accounts for 4.2 billion and will grow 2.5 billion by 2050 with the greatest growth happening in Asia and Africa (90 percent)
  • The Most Urbanized Regions
    • 82 percent of North American Countries are urbanized
    • 81 percent of Latin American and Caribbean countries are urbanized
    • 75 percent of European countries are urbanized
    • 68 percent of Oceanian Countries are urbanized
    • Almost 50 percent of Asian countries are urbanized
    • 43 percent of African countries are urbanized
  • Almost half of the world’s urban dwellers living in settlements of less than 500,000 inhabitants
  • 1 in 8 live in 33 megacities that have more than 10 million inhabitants
  • By 2030, the world will have 43 megacities, most of them in developing regions

Mexico’s Megacities

Mexico is following the same trend as the world’s major cities. According to INEGI, by 2050, 90 percent of Mexico’s population will be living in urban areas. Mexico has urbanized at a slightly slower rate than the average of Latin American and Caribbean countries but significantly higher than Central America.

As of 2018, Mexico’s population by size of urban settlement has increased drastically since 1990. Mexico currently has 18 cities with a population of 300,000-500,000, 20 cities of 500,000-1 million, 14 cities of 1-5 million, one city of 5-10 million. The capital, Mexico City, is the country’s only megacity with more than 10 million people.

By 2030, as Mexico’s cities continue to grow, its 14 cities with populations of 1-5 million will transform into 22 cities. It will also have two cities with a population of 5-10 million.






The Mexican Powerhouses

Mexico’s largest urban areas are boosting the country’s economic development by fostering the growth of the automotive, manufacturing, aviation and agriculture sectors. Nevertheless, these cities are beginning to see the symptoms of their fast urbanization. Lack of basic services, mobility problems and rising housing prices can be seen in these areas.

Guadalajara Metropolitan Area

  • Population: 4.9 million
  • Density: 123.4 hab/ha

Monterrey Metropolitan Area (MMA)

  • Density: 108.3 hab/ha
  • Population: 4.7 million

Valley of Mexico Metropolitan Area

  • Population: 20.9 million
  • Density: 160.1 hab/ha

Source: Delimitacion de las zonas metropolitanas de México 2015 – INEGI


Puebla — Source: Russ Bowling

The Up and Coming

Queretaro Metropolitan Area

It consists of the Corregidora, El Marques, Huimilpan and Queretaro municipalities. In the last five years, this area has become one of the cities with the highest demographic growth.

  • Population: 1.3 million
  • Density: 96.2 hab/ha
  • Average growth rate 2010-2015: 2.8 percent

Puebla Metropolitan Area

The Puebla Metropolitan Area includes 10 municipalities of the state of Puebla and 13 from its neighbor, Tlaxcala.

  • Population: 2.9 million
  • Density: 76.6 hab/ha
  • Average Growth rate 2010-2015: 1.6 percent

Tijuana Metropolitan Area

Powered by a growing manufacturing industry and favored by its proximity to the US, Tijuana is an up-and-coming powerhouse. Baja California has been one of the top states in terms of economic growth thanks to its agriculture and livestock.

  • Population: 1.8 million
  • Density: 85.0 hab/ha
  • Average growth rate 2010-2015: 1.1

Mexico’s cities will grow rapidly but it is crucial that the public and private sectors collaborate to ensure it grows sustainably. These cities’ industrial activity has boosted housing and commercial development, but one of the government’s biggest worries as they continue to grow is density. These cities are beginning to experience negative side effects from their fast urbanization including mobility problems and infrastructure problems. Following UN-Habitat’s recommendations for sustainable development, the goal is to increase the density of these cities to boost the quality of life.

According to the Minister of SEDATU Queretaro, the Queretaro Metropolitan Area population has increased by 566 percent and its urban footprint by 762 percent. Along with it, the number of cars also increased by 1,943 percent. Similar trends can be seen throughout Mexico’s secondary cities, making urban development and city transformation a high priority for the new administration.

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