Mega Slums Map


Slums are litmus tests for innate cultural strengths and weaknesses. Those peoples whose cultures can harbor extensive slum life without decomposing will be, relatively speaking, the future’s winners. Those whose cultures cannot will be the future’s victims. Robert D. Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy, 1994.

The legend’s numbers are by the millions (4.0=4 million) of inhabitants*. Multiple circles indicate multiple mega slums. For a full breakdown of the raw data (including another interesting map) see this wikimedia
page or the maps author page (Walké). Nod to casuist for this.

*The map illustrates data from “mega slums” with populations greater than 500,000.

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13 Responses to Mega Slums Map

  1. Joe says:

    None in Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia?

  2. von Kaufman-Turkestansky says:

    Great map. Just for interest’s sake I went back in the CA archives and looked up the “Mapping the Gap” series. And there you go…

  3. Mark says:

    And the largest circle on the map is busy exporting itself to points north.

  4. Dexter Trask says:

    Agreed. Wonderful map.

    Is it complete, though? Asia seems to be missing a lot of slums. For example, I would have bet real money that the Philippines would sport at least one mega slum.

  5. Joe and Dexter Trask, the map illustrates slums with populations greater than 500,000. I’ll add that disclaimer to the post. A map indicating the percentage of population per state living in slums can be found via the same author here.

  6. DJ says:

    I would of expected India to have a few more. I have to say there are a lot of surprises on there.

  7. Dexter Trask says:

    Munro Ferguson,

    I looked into the data a bit more after commenting. I think that the other map by Walké that you pointed to might have more complete information. Looking through the 2001 UN-HABITAT Global Urban Observatory estimates from which it is drawn, it looks like Brazil had c. 51.7 million slum-dwellers that year. Unless they were all evenly divided among 86 or more cities, at least on mega slum should have shown up on this map for Brazil.

    (DJ: The same report estimated 158 million Indians in living in slums that year, so we should see several more mega slums for India.)

    With more complete data incorporated, I think that this map would be even more eye-opening.

  8. UNRR says:

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 3/24/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  9. Beauty says:

    I bet you will find Coca-Cola in everyone of those places.

  10. Extremely interesting. I would note, however, the differences between the slums. I’ve visited Mathare (Kenya) and slums in Mexico, and the standard of living is shockingly different. Definitely rather live in Mexico.

  11. Roy Berman says:

    I’m about to head back to Japan from the Philippines, and I can say that while there is an enormous amount of slum life here, there really isn’t anything you can call a “mega slum” per se. What I mean is that while Metro Manila may cumulatively have enough slums and slum residents to rival almost any other city in the world, they are not so heavily concentrated geographically, but spread out throughout the entire region, often even in small pockets adjacent to and sandwiched between far more prosperous areas. I can’t say precisely how that makes it different from mega slums economically, culturally, etc. but I think it is likely correct to say that due to the way slums here are interspersed with non-slum communities, there is far more social contact, less of an isolated existence, and perhaps even higher rates of social mobility. It is critical to note as well that even very poor slum dwellers here have, at least officially, access to free public education, even if many children are forced to/choose to drop out before finishing.

  12. Roy Berman says:

    BTW, I will be writing more extensively on this some time soon over at MF, with many photos.

  13. Roy Berman says:

    “I bet you will find Coca-Cola in everyone of those places.”
    I can vouch that there was not a single location in the Philippines without Coca-Cola, and that’s even including a village with no electricity in a valley you have to walk about 2 hours from the road to get to.