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List of metropolitan areas in Europe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Satellite picture of Europe by night. Lights reveal the urbanized areas of Europe. It also shows the Blue Banana megalopolis from north-west England to northern Italy, and Golden Banana urbanized area between Genua and Valencia.
Satellite picture of Europe by night. Lights reveal the urbanized areas of Europe. It also shows the Blue Banana megalopolis from north-west England to northern Italy, and Golden Banana urbanized area between Genua and Valencia.

This is a list of metropolitan areas in Europe, with their population according to three different sources. The list includes metropolitan areas that have a population of over 1 million.

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  • Urban Geography: Why We Live Where We Do
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This is Wendover Productions. Sponsored by the Great Courses Plus. Here’s an interesting question: which city do you think is more dense—Paris, France or New York, United States? It probably seems obvious: New York, the land of skyscrapers, the Big Apple… right? Wrong. New York, in fact, has a population density of less than half that of Paris. Paris’s is 56,000 people per square mile (22,000 per square kilometer) while New York’s is only 27,000 people per square mile (10,500 per square kilometer.) To find a European city with a comparable population density to New York’s—the densest American city—you have to go all the way down to number six on the list: Lyon France (27,000 per sq/mile; 10,500 per sq/km.) New York of course has a super-dense urban core, but then around it is miles and miles of suburbia—just like almost every other American city. Paris, on the other hand, packs almost its entire population into a compact urban core. There’s also another interesting pattern that differs between the two continents: rich Americans live outside the city, rich Europeans live city center. Compare the income map of Paris to that of Philadelphia. Of course it’s not perfect, but you can definitely see a pattern. The most commonly cited reason for both these trends is the difference in age. Most European cities have existed for hundreds if not thousands of years, while all but a few American cities only gathered enough population to be called cities in the past one or two hundred years. What that means is that European cities existed when all but the super-rich had to commute to work by foot. In the middle ages, Paris had a population of two to three hundred thousand people, but you could walk from one side to the other in thirty minutes. It was incredibly densely populated. You just had to live within walking distance of work. Therefore, the rich paid more for the houses closest to the center of the city. This is a similar reason to why in historic European hotels, you’ll often see the nicest and largest rooms on the lower floors—the opposite of what you’d see today. Before elevators existed, the rich didn’t want to have to walk up as many flights of stairs. Walking distance was not only important to big cities. Small villages across Europe were almost always the same size because their population was dictated by the walkability of the surrounding fields. European farmers tended to live in small towns and walk to their fields during the day rather than the homesteading approach used in America. Therefore, villages would only be as large as the amount of people needed to work the fields within walking distance. American cities, on the other hand, began their period of rapid growth in a more modern era when decentralizing technologies were much more advanced. By the time North American cities grew larger than the distance people could reasonably walk, there was already the technological capability to create public transportation systems. The first major public transportation innovation was the steam train in the mid 19th century. This was a very expensive means of transport and was therefore only for the super rich. Interestingly, because steam trains take an enormous amount of time to reach speed, the towns that the rich commuted from, known as railroad suburbs, were generally not just at the nearest bit of countryside, but separated from the city by a few miles of countryside. The impact of railroad suburbs remains today. On the track of the old Philadelphia Main Line, there’s a stretch of super-rich communities with huge estates and country clubs from Ardmore to Malvern. The demographics just never changed from the time of the railroad suburb. A few decades later, streetcars emerged and quickly became an instrumental part of the American commute. Much like steam trains, streetcars also created new communities—this time with slightly less rich upper-middle class individuals. In Washington DC, the wealthy suburbs of Tenleytown, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, McLean, Rockville, and more all grew as a result of the streetcar. But once again, walking distance influenced geography. Streetcar commuters had to live within walking distance of a stop, so naturally there would be a radius of civilization about 20 or 30 minutes walking distance from a stop, then past that…nothing. That meant that between the lines, there was all this open space where nobody could commute from. Enter: the automobile. At first the car was only for upper class individuals especially with the distraction of the two World Wars and Great Depression, however, by the time young Americans returned from World War Two, there had been enough technological advances to make the automobile affordable for the middle class. Over 50% of households had cars by 1950. At the same time, the government was offering loans to returning veterans which significantly increased the number of americans who could afford to buy homes. Instead of buying a small central city home, this generation opted to use their new cars to commute from cheaper, nicer, and larger suburban homes. The idea was that the working parents would go downtown each day while the rest of the family would stay to enjoy the suburb. It was the perfect deal. So that whole history was absolutely true, but it doesn’t entirely explain why European cities didn't experience suburbanization as well. In Germany, for example, many, if not most, cities were bombed to rubble during World War Two. They had the opportunity to rebuild in any way they wanted, but then chose to keep their compact design. Today, the average metropolitan population density in Germany is four times higher than the US’s. At the same time, other cities across Europe that survived the war experienced enormous population influxes and still maintained their mammoth population densities. Perhaps the least commonly cited reason for suburbanization in the US is crime. It’s a bit of an ugly period in American history that we sometimes forget, but crime levels were absolutely insane in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. There are a ton of different theories for why this was—perhaps the most interesting being the that the rise in gasoline emitted lead caused lower IQ’s and higher aggressively. New York had an astronomical 2,245 murders in 1990. London didn’t even have that many in the entire 90’s decade. Violent crime rates are still consistently 10 or more times higher in the US. In 1992, a poll was conducted asking departing New Yorkers why they were moving to the suburbs, and the most commonly cited reason was crime at 47%. Cost and quality of living were way down at lower than 10% each. Crime rates are significantly lower in suburbs as they are typically havens for higher-income individuals. Europeans don’t have to worry as much about inter-city crime so they’re much more willing to live downtown. Land for suburban housing is also readily available in the US because farmers have always been quick to sell their relatively unprofitable land to developers. By contrast, In France, for example, agricultural subsidies are 12 times higher per acre of land than the US. That’s a big reason why large European cities are still closely surrounded by small farms. In many European cities, you can literally take the city bus to farms. Lastly, all sorts of energy are cheaper in the US. A gallon of gas costs as much as $7 in some parts of Europe compared to the US average of $2.20. It’s significantly more expensive to commute by car in Europe so there’s more motivation to live closer to work where either the drive is shorter or you can take public transportation. Also, big suburban homes aren’t as attractive in Europe because electricity and heating costs are higher. Suburban life really didn’t live up to expectations. Americans now spend an average of 4.25 hours per week sitting in cars, buses, or trains traveling to and from work. That’s 2.5% of their entire lives. It’s also been scientifically proven that commuting from the suburbs is linked to higher blood pressure, lower frustration tolerance, and higher rates of anxiety. Also, the suburbs are no longer the countryside havens that they once were. They’re just a continuation of the urban sprawl. Rich Americans are therefore beginning to return to the city. With lower crime rates, higher fuel costs, and an overall shift in attitude, urban cores are having a second renaissance. So that’s why we live where we do. It’s a complicated, controversial, and surprisingly political history. I hope you enjoyed this Wendover Production video. I first need to thank my amazing sponsor—the Great Courses Plus. The Great Courses Plus is a subscription on-demand video learning service where you can watch unlimited top-notch courses from Ivy League Professors, National Geographic Scientists, Culinary Institute of America Chefs, and hundreds more highly qualified individuals. If you enjoyed this video, I highly recommend the course on Cultural and Human Geography. It’s a super-interesting topic, and this course absolutely does it justice. You can watch this or any other of the hundreds of courses for free when you sign up for a 30-day free trial using the link or the link is also in the description. I also recently started a Patreon which you can go to by clicking here. There are a bunch of great rewards like early access to videos, stickers, t-shirts, and best of all, every dollar contributed over there goes right back into the channel. Aside from that, please follow me on Twitter @WendoverPro, watch my last video on the story behind the 787 and a380 planes, check out my fan-moderated subreddit at, and most of all, subscribe to this channel. Thanks again for watching, and I’ll see you in two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.



List includes metropolitan areas according only studies of ESPON, Eurostat, and OECD. For this reason some metropolitan areas, like Italian Genoa Metropolitan Area (population is over 1.510.000 as of 2012 according "CityRailway" Official Report), aren't included in this list, with data by other statistic survey institutes.

Figures in the first column come from the ESPON project, "Study on Urban Functions", which defines cities according to the concept of a functional urban area (core urban area defined morphologically on the basis of population density, plus the surrounding labour pool defined on the basis of commuting). Figures in the second column come from Eurostat's Urban Audit and correspond to Larger Urban Zones (LUZ). Figures in the fourth column come from the OECD Territorial Reviews and correspond to "metropolitan regions". Further information on how the areas are defined can be found in the source documents. These figures should be seen as an interpretation, not as conclusive fact.

Metropolitan areas

  Areas within the European Union
Metropolitan area name Country ESPON
Functional Urban Area
Metropolitan region
Metropolitan region
Amsterdam metropolitan area  Netherlands 2,497,000[a] 2,729,421 7,500,000[a]
Antwerp  Belgium 1,406,000[b] 1,041,811 No Data
Athens  Greece 3,761,000 3,773,559 3,900,000
Barcelona metropolitan area  Spain 4,082,000[c] 5,474,482 4,900,000
Belgrade  Serbia No data
Berlin  Germany 4,016,000 5,207,915 6,000,000
Bilbao  Spain 947,000 1,134,514 No data
Birmingham (West Midlands)  United Kingdom 3,701,107 2,516,264 2,600,000
Bremen  Germany 1,077,000 1,269,755 No data
Bristol  United Kingdom 1,041,000 1,133,729 No data
Brussels-Capital Region  Belgium 2,639,000[b] 2,513,849 3,800,000
Bucharest metropolitan area  Romania 2,064,000 2,287,347 No data
Budapest metropolitan area  Hungary 2,523,000 3,000,076 2,800,000
Cardiff  United Kingdom 1,097,000 1,129,971 No data
Copenhagen  Denmark 1,881,000[d] 2,014,225 3,900,000[4][5]
Donetsk  Ukraine No data No data No data
Dnipro  Ukraine No data No data No data
Dublin Metropolitan Area  Ireland 1,477,000 1,917,677 1,800,000
Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Region  Germany 2,764,000[e] 2,671,358 5,600,000
Greater Glasgow  United Kingdom 1,395,000 1,836,014 No data
The Hague  Netherlands 1,404,000[a] 853,987 Not listed[a]
Hamburg Metropolitan Region  Germany 2,983,000 3,282,164 4,600,000
Helsinki Metropolitan Area  Finland 1,285,000 1,638,293 1,800,000
Istanbul[f]  Turkey No data No data 11,400,000
Katowice metropolitan area  Poland 3,029,000[g] 2,713,464 No data
Kazan  Russia No data No data No data
Kharkiv  Ukraine No data No data No data
Kiev metropolitan area  Ukraine No data No data No data
Kraków metropolitan area  Poland 1,236,000 1,472,784 2,100,000
West Yorkshire (Bradford - Leeds)  United Kingdom 2,302,000 1,118,711[h] 2,100,000
Lille–Kortrijk–Tournai  France/
1,379,000[i] 2,612,189 2,600,000
Lisbon Metropolitan Area  Portugal 2,591,000 2,821,349 2,700,000
Liverpool/Birkenhead  United Kingdom 2,241,000 1,530,512[j] No data
Łódź  Poland 1,165,000 1,079,031 No data
Wrocław  Poland No data 634,192 No data
London metropolitan area  United Kingdom 14,309,000 14,187,146 8,200,000
Lyon  France 1,669,000 1,860,112 1,600,000
Madrid metropolitan area  Spain 5,263,000 6,476,838 5,600,000
Greater Manchester  United Kingdom 2,556,000 3,287,460 2,500,000
Marseille  France 1,530,000 3,099,950 No data
Milan metropolitan area  Italy 7,636,000[k] 4,316,398 8,447,125
Minsk  Belarus No data No data No data
Moscow metropolitan area  Russia No data No data No data
Munich  Germany 2,665,000[l] 2,879,107 6,100,000
Naples metropolitan area  Italy 3,714,000[6] 3,107,006 3,100,000
Nice  France 1,082,000 1,081,455 No data
Nizhny Novgorod  Russia No data No data No data
Nottingham-Derby  United Kingdom 1,534,000 323,475[m] No data
Nuremberg Metropolitan Region  Germany 1,443,000 1,333,043 No data
Odessa  Ukraine No data No data No data
Greater Oslo  Norway 1,037,000 1,271,127 1,700,000
Paris metropolitan area  France 11,175,000 12,193,865 11,200,000
Perm  Russia No data No data No data
Porto Metropolitan Area  Portugal 1,245,000[n] 1,719,021 No data
Portsmouth-Southampton  United Kingdom 1,547,000 670,017[o] No data
Prague  Czech Republic 1,669,000 2,619,490 2,300,000
Rhein-Nord[p] (Düsseldorf - Neuss)  Germany 3,073,000[q] 1,545,431 Not listed[a]
Rhein-Süd[p] (Cologne - Bonn)  Germany 3,070,000[q] 1,987,901[r] Not listed[a]
Riga  Latvia 1,195,000 641,423 No data
Rome metropolitan area  Italy 5,190,000 4,353,738 5,356,271
Rostov-on-Don  Russia No data No data No data
Rotterdam  Netherlands 1,904,000[a] 1,445,056 Not listed[a]
Ruhr area  Germany 5,376,000[q] 5,118,681 13,400,000[q]
Saarbrücken - Forbach  Germany/
1,102,000 804,286 No data
Saint Petersburg  Russia No data No data No data
Samara  Russia No data No data No data
Saratov  Russia No data No data No data
Seville  Spain 1,180,000[s] 1,943,191 No data
Sofia  Bulgaria 1,260,120 1,681,592 1,681,666
Metropolitan Stockholm  Sweden 2,171,000 2,269,060 2,200,000
South Yorkshire (Sheffield)  United Kingdom 1,869,000 576,167[t] No data
Stuttgart Metropolitan Region  Germany 2,289,000 2,757,930 2,700,000
Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area  Greece 1,052,000 1,108,085 No data
Turin metropolitan area  Italy 1,601,000[u] 2,277,857 2,200,000
Newcastle-Sunderland  United Kingdom 1,599,000 1,167,815[v] No data
Ufa  Russia No data No data No data
Valencia  Spain 1,398,000[w] 2,522,383 2,300,000
Vienna  Austria 2,584,000 2,811,186 2,200,000
Volgograd  Russia No data No data No data
Warsaw metropolitan area  Poland 2,785,000 3,369,567 3,000,000
Zagreb  Croatia 1,107,115 1,243,779 No data
Zürich metropolitan area   Switzerland 1,615,000 1,984,534 2,500,000

Polycentric metropolitan areas in the European Union

(excludes Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey)

Rank Area State Population[7]
1 Rhine-Ruhr  Germany 12,190,000
2 Randstad  Netherlands 6,787,000
3 Upper Silesian metropolitan area  Poland/  Czech Republic 5,294,000
4 Flemish Diamond  Belgium 5,103,000

See also

Regional and country-specific lists


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Part of the Randstad polycentric urban region consisting of the metropolitan areas of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht (982,000). The total population of the region is 7,100,000.
  2. ^ a b The Flemish Diamond metropolitan region, which consists of the metropolitan areas of Brussels, Antwerp, Gent, and Leuven, has a total population of 5,103,000.
  3. ^ Total population is 4,251,000 if the metropolitan area of Mataro (169,000) is included.
  4. ^ Part of the wider Öresund region, which includes the Swedish metropolitan area of Malmö (961,000). The total regional population is 2,842,000.
  5. ^ Part of the Rhein-Main metropolitan region with a total population of 4,149,000, which additionally includes the metropolitan areas of Darmstadt (501,000), Wiesbaden (453,000), and Mainz (431,000).
  6. ^ 65% of the population lives on the European part
  7. ^ Part of the polycentric Upper Silesian urban region with a total population of 5,294,000. The region additionally includes the metropolitan areas of Ostrava (1,046,000), Bielsko-Biala (584,000) and Rybnik (526,000).
  8. ^ Just Leeds (Bradford 535,135)
  9. ^ Part of the wider Lille-Bassin Minier region with a total population of 3,115,000.
  10. ^ Just Liverpool
  11. ^ Part of a wider polycentric urban region with a population of 8,311,000.
  12. ^ When combined with the Augsburg metropolitan area (606,000), the region has a total population of 3,271,000.
  13. ^ just Nottingham (Derby 257,101)
  14. ^ Part of a wider polycentric urban region with a population of 1,778,000.
  15. ^ just Portsmouth (Southampton 253,395)
  16. ^ a b Polycentric metropolitan area
  17. ^ a b c d Part of the polycentric urban region of Rhein-Ruhr, which has a total population of 12,190,000.
  18. ^ just Cologne, Bonn 919,979
  19. ^ Total population is 1,262,000 if the metropolitan area of Utrera (82,000) is included.
  20. ^ just Sheffield
  21. ^ Total population is 1,716,000 if the metropolitan of Pinerolo is included.
  22. ^ just Newcastle (Sunderland 278,034)
  23. ^ Total population is 1,499,000 if the metropolitan area of Sagunto is included.


  1. ^ "Study on Urban Functions (Project 1.4.3)]" (PDF). European Spatial Planning Observation Network. March 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. , Final Report, Chapter 3
  2. ^ "Database". Eurostat. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2018.  click General and regional statistics / Regional statistics by typology / Metropolitan regions / Demography statistics by metropolitan regions / Population on 1 January by broad age group, sex and metropolitan regions (met_pjanaggr3)
  3. ^ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Competitive Cities in the Global Economy, OECD Territorial Reviews, (OECD Publishing, 2006), Table 1.1
  4. ^ "Danmarks Statistik". Danmarks Statistik. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Statistics Sweden". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Principal Agglomerations of the World". Citypopulation. January 2017. 
  7. ^ European Spatial Planning Observation Network, Study on Urban Functions (Project 1.4.3) Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine., Final Report, Chapter 3, (ESPON, 2007) page 241-243

External links

  • Geopolis: research group, university of Paris-Diderot, France - Population of urban areas of 10,000 or more
This page was last edited on 29 July 2018, at 22:58
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