In order to understand how civilizations have evolved over time, it's useful to look at population growth and decline in different geographic areas. It's a pretty massive undertaking to try and determine how many people lived in urban areas "prior to recorded history." Tertius Chandler's book, Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census used a wide variety of historical sources to locate approximate populations for the world's largest cities since 3100 BCE. Using a few of his charts, i thought it might be fun to see what were the largest cities beginning with 3100 BCE. Not sure what BCE refers to? I had to look it up myself. BCE stands for Before Common Era which is, generally, the same as BC, and CE equates to AD. These newfangled terms seek to eliminate the religious reference and are now more commonly used in academic settings.
In 3100 BC (BCE), Memphis, Egypt was Number 1, with a population of 30,000 people.
In 2240, the Number 1 city was Akkad, Babylonia (Iraq). In 2030, the biggest city was Ur, Babylonia (Iraq) with an estimated population of 65,000. Jumping ahead to 195 BCE, the biggest place was Xi'an, China. Its population was 400,000. Rome, Italy jumped to the top of the list in 25 BCE when its population exceeded 450,000
Now on to CE (or AD):
Baghdad was the Number 1 city in 775 and was the first city to reach a population of 1 million citizens. From 1425 to 1500, Beijing, China reigned supreme with a population of 1.27 million. London, England was the first city to reach the 5 million mark. It held the title from 1825 to 1900. So what city hit 10 million people first? It was New York City and it held the record from 1925 to 1950. In 1965, however, a new record was broken. Tokyo's population reached 20 million and held onto that record until 1975.
In case you are wondering, the top three largest cities in Land of Lily Pad are; # 3-Ribbiton, #2-Pond Scum, and the #1 largest city and the capital, the one where I live, is City of Swamp.
I found these facts fascinating and I hope you did as well. If you like to indulge yourself every now and again (and who doesn't, right?) I know you will want to stop back by tomorrow for a blog celebrating National Splurge Day. Until then, I wish you