The 10 Largest Cities in North America

December 13, 2023

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View of Mexico City at night

North America is the world’s third-largest continent by area and the fourth-largest in terms of population. Covering an area of about 24.7 million square kilometers, or 9.5 million square miles, North America has a population of approximately 604 million.

North America is also home to some of the world’s most populous cities. A city can be defined by either the number of people living in its administrative boundaries (known as the “city proper”), the size of its urban area, or the number of people living in the city proper plus those living in the surrounding urban areas. The last definition is known as the “metropolitan area”, and this is what we’ve used to determine this list of the largest cities in North America in 2024.

Mexico City, Mexico – 22.3 million

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

With a population of approximately 22.3 million, Mexico City is the most populous city in North America and one of the largest cities in the world. More than a fifth of the entire population of the country of Mexico lives in the city.

Of all the countries on this list, Mexico City has one of the greatest extremes of wealth and poverty, with the upper classes living alongside the poorer communities. Despite its relatively high poverty rate, Mexico City is one of the leading financial centers in Latin America. Due to its central location, it attracts businesses and immigrants from less-developed areas who come to the city to find work. Many of Mexico City’s immigrants come from Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Southern United States.

Mexico City is also popular with tourists, thanks to its multiple museums, historical buildings, and vibrant culture.

Did you know?

Mexico City was known as “New Spain” up until its independence from Spain in 1821.

New York City, United States – 7.9 million

The Statue of Liberty, New York
The Statue of Liberty, New York

New York City takes second place on the list of largest cities in North America. Often referred to as “The Big Apple”, the city has a population of about 7.9 million. This is largely thanks to its reputation for providing plenty of work opportunities and a desirable lifestyle.

As well as having one of the strongest economies in the world, the cosmopolitan city of New York is known as a hub for entertainment, fashion, art, and media, as well as education, science, technology, and research. However, it is also one of the biggest victims of climate change.

Not only is New York City the home of the United Nations headquarters, but it’s also got some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, such as Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square.

Did you know?

New York City’s “Big Apple” nickname was not always so apt, with about a million of its residents leaving in the 1970s due to crime and a shrinking economy.

Guadalajara, Mexico – 5.4 million

Guadalajara Plaza in Guadalajara, Mexico
People walking across Guadalajara Plaza

The capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco is the third-most populous city in North America, with roughly 5.4 million living in its metropolitan area.

Located in the Western Pacific area of Mexico, Guadalajara is the economic center of Mexico’s Bajío region and is one of the most productive cities in the world.

The city is also known as the cultural center of Mexico, as it is where mariachi music originated, and it plays host to many large-scale festivals like the Guadalajara International Film Festival, the Guadalajara International Book Fair, and other world-renowned cultural events that are attended by tourists as well as locals.

Other tourist attractions include the Guadalajara Cathedral, the UNESCO World Heritage site Hospicio Cabañas, and Latin America’s largest indoor market, the San Juan de Dios Market.

Did you know?

Guadalajara is named after the Spanish city of the same name, and it means “valley of stones”.

Monterrey, Mexico – 5.1 million

Monterrey, Mexico
Monterrey at sunset

Yet another Mexican city makes it onto our list of North America’s biggest cities. With a population of approximately 5.1 million, Monterrey is the fourth-largest city on the continent.

The capital of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, is one of Mexico’s most developed cities and an important commercial and industrial center. The headquarters of many important Mexican companies are situated in the city, which is also home to multiple factories. Because of its constant drive to become more prosperous, Monterrey is said to be more like the US than Mexico.

The city’s spectacular setting in the Sierra Madre mountain range also makes it a popular tourist destination. As well as for outdoor sports activities, visitors come to Monterrey for its vibrant culture and rich history. Notable attractions include Plaza Makro, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the selection of caves and waterfalls that can be found in the areas surrounding the city.

Did you know?

Monterrey was the site of the first major battle of the Mexican-American War in 1846.

Montreal, Canada – 4.3 million

View of Montreal at night
Montreal city skyline

Canada’s Montreal has a population of about 4.3 million, making it the fifth-most populous city in North America.

Founded in 1642 as “Ville-Marie” (“City of Mary”) by French explorers, the majority of Montreal’s inhabitants still speak French today.

The summer of 1976 saw Canada host the Olympics for the first time in Montreal and today, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions is Olympic Park, where visitors can ride to the top of the Montreal Tower to enjoy the spectacular views. As well as the Olympic Park, tourists visit the city for the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the wide range of speakeasy bars.

Did you know?

John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded the song ‘Give Peace a Chance’ at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal during a week-long bed-in.

Los Angeles, United States – 6.3 million

The Hollywood sign in LA
The Hollywood sign in Los Angeles

The sixth-largest North American city on our list is Los Angeles, which is home to around 3.8 million people.

Since it was founded in 1781, the city has become one of the biggest financial and business centers in the world. Most people will assume that this is all thanks to its world-class movie industry, and while this is true, the city also thrives due to its commercial citrus farms, high-tech companies, and fashion and craft industries.

A melting pot of cultures, Los Angeles’ inhabitants come from more than 140 countries and speak more than 220 languages.

Some of the city’s most iconic landmarks are the Hollywood Sign, Sunset Boulevard, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Did you know?

Most of LA’s palm trees were imported from Mexico.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – 3.5 million

The Ozama Fortress in Santo Domingo
The Ozama Fortress in Santo Domingo

North America’s seventh-most populated city, according to its metropolitan area, is Santo Domingo, with a population of about 3.5 million.

The capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo was founded by the Spanish in 1496, making it both the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule and the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in not only North America but South America too. The Americas’ first castle, cathedral, fortress, monastery, and university were built in Santo Domingo, and, today, the city remains a forerunner in terms of culture, economics, and politics.

Aside from exploring the Three Eyes National Park and soaking up the vibrant Caribbean culture, tourists visit Santo Domingo for La Zona Colonial — which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site — Quinta Dominica and El Museo de la Resistencia, to learn about the city’s history and culture.

Did you know?

In 1936, the Dominican Republic’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, named the capital Ciudad Trujillo after himself. However, after his assassination in 1961, the city was — and continues to be — referred to by its original name.

Puebla, Mexico – 3.3 million

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios in Puebla
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios in Puebla, Mexico

As one of the world’s most populous countries, it should come as no surprise to see Mexico on this list for a fourth time. Puebla, the capital of the state with the same name, has a population of approximately 3.3 million, making it the eighth-largest city in the world.

Founded by the Spanish in 1531, Puebla has a rich history and features a range of architectural styles (from Renaissance to Mexican Baroque), both of which led UNESCO to award it with World Heritage status in 1987.

The majority of Puebla’s economy is based on industry due to it being home to the largest Volkswagen factory in the world outside Germany. This has inspired many Volkswagen suppliers and Audi assembly plants to open factories in the city’s metropolitan area.

The largest pyramid in the world, the Pyramid of Cholula, can be found in Puebla, which also boasts multiple prestigious universities and is famous for Talavera pottery, the typical Mexican dish mole poblano, and the stuffed chile dish, chiles en nogada.

Did you know?

Puebla is home to the smallest volcano in the world. Cuexcomate measures just 43 feet high, with a diameter of 75 feet.

Guatemala City, Guatemala – 3.1 million

Guatemala City
Bird’s-eye view of Guatemala City

Officially called “New Guatemala of Assumption” but known locally as simply “Guate”, Guatemala City is the ninth-largest city in North America, with around 3.1 million residents.

While Guatemala City is located on the site of the Mayan city of Kaminaljuyu (which was founded around 1500 BCE), after the Spanish invasion, a new town was established, which would go on to become the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala in 1776.

Today, Guatemala City is Guatamala’s economic, political, and cultural center, with its manufacturing, agriculture, and services sectors the major contributing factors to its status as the largest economy in Central America.

Did you know?

Guatemala City is built on weak volcano pumice, which means there’s a greater risk of sinkholes. In 2010, a sinkhole opened rapidly, swallowing a house and a three-storey factory. 

Vancouver, Canada – 2.7 million

Fireworks exploding over Vancouver
Fireworks over Vancouver skyline

According to its metropolitan area, Vancouver is the tenth-largest city in North America, with a population of roughly 2.7 million.

As well as being one of the world’s most liveable cities, it is one of Canada’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities. More than half the city’s residents belong to minority ethnic groups, with almost half speaking neither English nor French as their first language.

With its stunning scenery, friendly locals and mild climate, Vancouver is a popular tourist destination and it has hosted many international events, most notably, the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics.

Did you know?

Vancouver is taking steps to become the greenest city in the world by reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, recycling more, cleaning up beaches, and opposing plans to create new coal facilities in the city.

FAQs

Data Sources:
World Population Review: Largest Cities

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