The chart above shows the urban area of each city with a population of over one million. The urban area has been normalized so as to avoid any inconsistencies with how cities and their metropolitan areas are defined by their governments. Each urban area has similar characteristics making this the definitive method with which to compare cities across various countries. Most large cities - as defined by their area - in North America belong to the United States.
- The difference between the urban area with the greatest size, New York City, and the urban area with the least, Xalapa, is 12,018 square kilometers (4,640.18 square miles).
- New York City has 161.24 times the urban area that Xalapa does.
- The median size of urban area with a minimum population of one million in North America is 788.50 square kilometers (304.44 square miles) and the mean 1,411.37 square kilometers (544.93 square miles).
- Data is from 2020.
- The methodology for how these urban areas have been defined can be found in the source link below. As of this writing this is the most reliable way to compare urban areas throughout the world.
- Some of these urban areas span several states, and the state that is being used here is the one where the core of the urban area is located. For instance, Milan's urban area spans both Italy and Switzerland, but since the core of the urban area is in Italy it would be listed as an Italian urban area and not a Swiss one.
- All figures are rounded to the nearest whole.
Only 14 of the 42 North American states have urban areas with at least one million people. Of these, the United States has 74; Mexico has 30; Canada has nine; the Dominican Republic and Honduras each have two and Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago each have one.
New York City makes up over one-twentieth of the total area of North American urban areas with over one million inhabitants at 6.80%. It, along with Boston, Atlanta, and Chicago make up one-fifth of the total area of North American urban areas with over one million inhabitants at 20.26%. Adding in Los Angeles and Washington DC brings it up to over one-quarter at 26.93%.
All but two of the 48 urban areas with a population of over one million people that have an urban area of over 2,000 square kilometers are located in the US, one is in Canada and one in Mexico. All but four of the 15 urban areas with a population of over one million people that have an area less than 200 square kilometers are located in Mexico, Honduras has two while the Dominican Republic and Jamaica each has one.
The United States has the largest area covered by its urban areas of over one million people with a total of 60,413 square kilometers (23,325.59 square miles) distributed among its 74 urban areas. Mexico has the second largest area covered by its urban areas of over one million people with a total of 4,134 square kilometers (1,596.15 square miles) distributed among its 30 urban areas. Canada is the only other North American state to have over 1,000 square kilometers of urban areas with over one million people with a total of 2,835 square kilometers (1,094.60 square miles) distributed among its nine urban areas.
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands, the US Minor Outlying Islands, and the US Virgin Islands do not have any urban areas with a population of over one million inhabitants.
Demographia. 2021. "Demographia World Urban Areas: 16th Annual Edition." Accessed March 9, 2021. http://demographia.com/db-worldua.pdf.