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Dhaka remains the world’s most densely populated city

  • Published at 09:20 pm October 14th, 2018
Dhaka has ranked the second least liveable city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual global survey Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The rise in density is 3.72% up from a year ago

With a density of 47,400 people per square kilometer, Dhaka remained the most densely populated city on earth for the third consecutive year.

The population of Dhaka is increasing every day as people move into it from different areas across the country to avail facilities. 

Government estimates say at least 1,418 people are adding to the population of Dhaka every day, with the current population at over 17 million marking the city as the densest city on the globe. Dhaka topped the ranks in 2017 and 2016 as well.


According to the 14th annual edition of “Demographia World Urban Areas”, released in April, Dhaka ranked as the top city among 1,758 urban areas of all sizes comprised of a total population of 2.38 billion people, which is 56% of the world’s population. 

The ranking estimates current year population from the base year population, adjusted by population projections made by United Nations or by national statistics authorities and satellite images.

Currently, about 47,400 people are living on each square kilometer area of Dhaka, hosting 17.4 million on its land. The rise in density is 3.72% up from a year ago.

Dhaka’s nearest competitor, Mogadishu in Somalia, has a population density of 28,600 people per square kilometer, while Al-Raqqa of Syria has 27,200 people scoring third position.

Two Indian cities are in fourth and fifth position: Surat of India with 26,600 people and Mumbai with 26,400 people per square kilometer.

Dhaka remained in the same position back in 2017 and 2016. In 2017, Dhaka had 45,700 people per square kilometer which is 3.62% higher than 44,100 people per square kilometer in 2016.

Experts consider the rising trend in Dhaka’s population alarming. They have pointed out migration and lack of policy for effective land use, poor coordination between ministries and divisions, and initiatives to make Dhaka more attractive, as some of the reasons behind the rising population density.

Experts on population density

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) civil engineering department professor Dr Md Shamsul Haque said urban migration is the main reason for the rising population.

“We need to discourage migration first, and then accommodate people currently residing in Dhaka in a way that the life cycle does not get stalled. Unfortunately, we have not been able to initiate any policies in this regard,” said Haque.

No coordinated transportation and land management system has yet been taken up to tackle the urban migration, he said.

“We will be deprived of the benefits of different development indicators because of mismanagement. Dhaka has already become a black hole, and gradually will collapse by its own gravity,” said the BUET professor.

Decentralization remains only in words, but increasing facilities in Dhaka attract people to become Dhaka-bound. 

“If people had better schools, hospitals, and other facilities in rural areas, they would not have a fascination for moving to the megacity,” said Haque.

Many densely populated cities like Hong Kong and Singapore are managing an increasing number of tourists in addition to their population. We expect Dhaka shall learn from them about managing the increasing population, he concluded. 

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