The Pearl River Delta: A City of Cities

Earlier this year the British Telegraph Newspaper published a story about the creation of a new megacity in the Chinese Pearl River delta region. “China is planning to create the world’s biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42 million”, the opener of their story stated. The region mentioned here is an area covering the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Donggaun, Foshan, Huizhou, Zhaoqing, Jiangmen, Zhongshan and Zhuhai (as described in the China Urban Development Blog). The story was quickly picked up by many news sources back then, while Chinese officials were quick to deny the reports. Stories like this show, how urbanisation and megacities have become a buzz word, and are used especially in relation to the emerging economies in Asia in order to picture these – for western-centric eyes unbelievably – large and still growing populations in the most urbanised regions on the planet. A few thoughts on the relevance of megacities in their global context have been published on this website before (related to the map of the world’s megacities).
With special regard to the Telegraph story I have drawn another map showing the population distribution of China (based on 2010 Data from the Chinese Census and from estimates of SEDAC’s GPW database) and highlighted the Pearl River Delta region in this map. The equal-population map shows a gridded population cartogram in which every grid cell is resized according to the total number of people living there. This map makes the plans of a more integrated Pearl River Delta region more understandable, and perhaps slightly less exciting for those who interpreted the news as the creation of a new megacity, rather than the logical step in connecting an already populous region.

Map / Gridded Population Cartogram of China and the Pearl River Delta
(click for larger map)

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