Megacities, Mammoth Problems

Six of the world's fastest-growing megacities are examined in terms of their most pressing problems and what they are doing to address them.
June 16, 2006, 1pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Petty crime and pollution are common inconveniences in cities big and small. But in megacities, those with a population of 10 million or more, these and other everyday headaches can quickly become mammoth problemsâ€"putting both lives and treasure at risk. The stakes have never been higher. In 1995, the world had just 14 megacities. By 2015, there will be 21. FP looks at the problems plaguing six of them."

"Tokyo: What's the problem? Earthquakes. Japan sits atop several converging tectonic plates, making it one of the most precariously situated cities on the globe."

"Mumbai: What's the problem? Monsoons and floods. Located on an island where the Mithi River meets the Arabian Sea, Mumbai gets hit by both inland flooding from the river and harsh monsoon rains from the sea."

"Mexico City: What's the problem? Pollution. Mexico City has some of the dirtiest air on Earth. Its pollution levels are five times higher than those of Los Angeles."

"Sao Paolo: What's the problem? Crime and vice. Sao Paolo is home to some of the world’s worst violence. During the 1990s, there were more shooting deaths in Brazil than in most war zones."

"Seoul: What's the problem? Overcrowding. South Korea already has the fourth-highest population density in the world, and since the 1960s, the country’s people have steadily migrated to the cities, especially to Seoul."

"Lagos: What's the problem? Sanitation and waste. Lagos is the world’s fastest-growing megacityâ€"and the dirtiest."

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Published on Monday, June 12, 2006 in Foreign Policy
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