The most populated cities in Latin America

August 18, 2022

Latin America has more than 634 million inhabitants, making it the third most populated continental territory in the world, just after Asia and Africa. Therefore, it is not surprising the existence of several cities with more than 5 million inhabitants. Today, we list the 10 most populated cities in Latin America in 2022.

The 3 largest cities in Latin America

When we talk about the most populated cities in the world we usually think of places in Asia such as Tokyo, Shanghai or the busy Delhi in India, however Latin America also has highly populated urban centers, so we can easily find cities that exceed 20 million inhabitants, according to the World City Population report for the year 2022.

São Paulo, the southeastern city of Brazil, is the financial, culture, and gastronomic epicenter of the South American country. This city tops the list of the most populated Latin American cities with a total of 22,429,800 inhabitants by 2022.

If we talk about the number of inhabitants, the cosmopolitan Mexico City is not far behind the Brazilian city. This year it is estimated that 22,085,140 inhabitants live in the Mexican capital.

We return to the southern cone to get to know the third most populated city in Latin America: Buenos Aires. In 2022, the capital of Argentina reached a population of 15,369,919 inhabitants.

Latin America, a region with expanding cities

For a population center to be considered a city, it must have more than 50,000 inhabitants. In Latin America, several cities have exceeded this limit by several hundred thousand. In the last 25 years, Latin American cities have emerged as urban vortexes that have turned the eyes of the world.

  • Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, ranks fourth on the list of the most populous cities in Latin America. This was the capital of Brazil since before independence from Portugal was declared, this changed in 1960 when the capital was moved to Brasília. This move did not stop the excessive growth and today it has a population of 13,634,274 inhabitants.
  • Close behind in fourth place is Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, fifth on the list of Latin America’s most populous cities. It is a vibrant, modern urban sprawl that is home to avant-garde subcultures and innovative spaces. It is so complex and monumental that it is difficult to get to know it in a short time, for many it is comparable to cities like San Francisco, Buenos Aires or Berlin. This 2022 reached a population of 11,344,312 inhabitants.
  • The city of Lima, capital of Peru, today is a center of commerce and core of government and industry, but growth was and still is among the most chaotic, since in 1980 the rebel group Sendero Luminoso occupied many places in the highlands and the elite’s passed laws that made access to housing difficult. The most disadvantaged built wherever they could, turning the city into an urban nightmare that consumes any free space. Today despite this it has a population of 11,044,607, making it the sixth most populous city in Latin America.
  • The seventh most populous city in the region is Santiago, capital of Chile. This city has increased in size since 1991. Santiago has been especially characterized by an increase in residential production, however this growth has not been uniforming as it expands mainly to the south and west of the capital Santiago is an example of a vibrant and innovative metropolis with a massive territorial extension of 15 thousand 403 square kilometers, in which 6,807,984 inhabitants live.
  • Brazil appears again on the list, this time in eighth position with the city of Belo Horizonte, in the southeastern region of Brazil. The first of the country’s planned cities, it occupies a broad plateau surrounded by mountains and hills and was treated as a grid patterned after Washington, D. C. Today it has a population of 6,194,292.
  • A Mexican city appears in ninth place among the most populated cities in Latin America. It is Guadalajara, a city that offers a less frenetic alternative to the country’s capital. In this metropolis, tradition and modernity coexist, as it is known for being the birthplace of mariachi music and charrería, but it has also stood out for being an industrial and technological center, which has begun to give it the name of the Mexican Silicon Valley. By 2022 it is estimated to have a population of 5,339,583 inhabitants.
  • A Mexican city closes this top 10. In this position is Monterrey, the capital city of Nuevo León, in northern Mexico, is considered the industrial hub of Mexico, home to major global companies and the most productive and best qualified workforce in the country. For many real estate specialists, this city is the most modern in the country. In 2022 it reached a population of 5,036,535 inhabitants.


Undoubtedly, such populated cities represent real challenges for the public administration and, of course, for those who live there. Providing basic services such as water, communication and decent housing are the great challenges for today’s megalopolises. However, despite all the problems that living in a city implies, they also become important cultural, financial and political centers that drive the evolution of a country, so big cities will always be an indispensable part of public life.