Take another quiz >
thumb

Top 10 World Cities Through History

For each year, name the 10 largest cities in the world of that year.
  • Source: "Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census" by Tertius Chandler
  • As usual, we filled in the loosely-defined Ruhr area.
  • Quiz by kalbahamut - Aug 29, 2015
Give Up?
Enter answer here
0 / 44 guessed
The quiz is paused. You have remaining.
Scoring
You scored /44 = %.
This beats or equals % of test takers
The average score is
Your high score is
Your best time is remaining
Points
You have earned / 5 points for this quiz
This quiz is not eligible for points
Next Level
/
Keep scrolling down for answers and more stats ...
×
Help

Enter answers in the area marked "Enter answer here".

You can enter any answer, at any time - they don't have to be in order

Punctuation and capitalization don't matter on JetPunk.

1950 AD
12,463,000
8,860,000
7,000,000
5,900,000
5,406,000
5,100,000
5,000,000
4,906,000
4,900,000
Ruhr Area
4,800,000
1900 AD
6,480,000
4,242,000
3,330,000
2,707,000
1,717,000
1,698,000
1,497,000
1,439,000
1,435,000
1,418,000
1800 AD
1,100,000
861,000
800,000
685,000
570,000
547,000
430,000
387,000
383,000
377,000
1500 AD
672,000
500,000
400,000
250,000
250,000
200,000
200,000
185,000
150,000
147,000
1000 AD
450,000
400,000
300,000
200,000
175,000
135,000
125,000
125,000
110,000
100,000
100 AD
450,000
420,000
250,000
250,000
150,000
130,000
120,000
100,000
95,000
90,000
Answer Stats
Answer
% Correct
Your %
(24)
Wow! Interesting quiz, but not easy.
reply
delete
May 27, 2014
(70)
Added some type-ins and rearranged the columns so that they read left-to-right chronologically now instead of top-bottom.

Also, I'm aware that some other cities could have arguably been on the list. For example, Ephesus in Turkey in 100 AD, I found one source saying it had 250,000 inhabitants that year and another claiming 400,000. But given the sheer volume of conflicting evidence concerning historical population figures, I decided just to go with a single source, which I listed above. Any omissions/errors you can take up with the author. The quiz makes no claim to accuracy above and beyond accurately replicating the data from one book.
reply
delete
May 28, 2014
(70)
Some other interesting omissions: in 1500 AD Cusco was estimated to have had as many as 300,000 residents, and Tenochitlan between 200 and 250 thousand. I found one source citing 400k for Madrid in 1800. I'm sure there are many others.
reply
delete
May 28, 2014
(43)
Yeah, I tried Ephesus. Thanks for an amazing quiz.
reply
delete
Jun 14, 2014
(71)
I figured Damascus was a more important city that it apparently was. Especially very early on.
reply
delete
May 30, 2014
(70)
Damascus has been continually inhabited for 11,000 years, longer than any other city in the world. It has been an important city in many different empires and independent states throughout history, maybe reaching its height of significance in the 7th and 8th centuries when it was the capital of the Umayyad caliphate. There are probably a few points in history when Damascus would have made a top 10 list, but those points either come long before the year 100 AD (2000-9000 BC) or fall in between some of the other dates listed.
reply
delete
May 31, 2014
(70)
The most important year on this quiz for the Muslim umma is 1000 AD, which is right around what most see as the golden age of Islam. But by that point the center of the Muslim world had shifted westward, as clear by the dominance of Cordoba in (what was then) Muslim Spain, and the rise of Cairo which was on its way to eclipsing Alexandria. Also very interesting to me was that Al-Hassa makes the top 10 list that year. This city is in Saudi Arabia, I think it's only the 15th or 20th largest city in the country currently. I knew that it was an old oasis town but never would have guessed before making this quiz that it was at one point one of the largest cities in the world.
delete
May 31, 2014
(76)
"An Historical Census" -- is that a typo or really called that? -- should've gotten more of the Japanese cities and perhaps one more Chinese one, but I found this one hard.
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(70)
Why would it be a typo? You haven't heard people argue about whether "an" or "a" should come before the word "history" before?
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(76)
Nope, I hadn't heard about that one before. Interesting.
delete
Jun 17, 2016
(28)
"An historical" is right, as is "an hotel".
reply
delete
Jan 8, 2016
(70)
No, it's not. But it is common.
delete
Jan 8, 2016
(42)
An historical isn't correct, but an hotel can be used when the "h" isn't aspirated - as in the French pronunciation. Many British people use this pronunciation.
delete
Mar 18, 2016
(70)
Many Brits don't pronounce the H in "historical," either. That doesn't make it correct. Just common.
delete
Mar 18, 2016
(70)
Perhaps a better example would be "an honor."
delete
Jun 4, 2017
(48)
Either "an historical" and "a historical" are correct (at least in British English - US English may differ in that regard). It will depend on style, but it's a throwback to the days when the letter H was not pronounced in such words and "an" made sense as a vowel sound immediately followed. The H sound has since become pronounced, but the habit of using "an" has stuck with some people.
delete
Jun 5, 2017
(72)
Rome was much bigger than that in 100AD.
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(70)
According to some estimates. I take it you were there?
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(70)
In general I think that the author was erring on the side of conservative estimates, as historical reports of population figures are often exaggerated sometimes by orders of magnitude. For another example, when I was just looking up Gaur to answer a commenter below, I found that someone reported 1.2 million people lived there in the 16th century, much more than the 200,000 figure given in the source for this quiz. But since all of this information is coming from the same place I'm just going to trust that the same methodology and criteria was used across the board and not try to do any second-guessing.
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(72)
Well, the highest estimates speak of 2 million inhabitants during the "golden age" of Rome, i.e. the second century. I guess it must have been somewhere between the two, but I usually consider Rome as the first city in History to reach one million, precisely somewhere around 100 AD...
reply
delete
Apr 15, 2015
(70)
Most estimates I've seen are north of 450,000. Though I don't think I've ever seen 2 million before. Still, going with a single source solves a lot more problems than it creates, so I'm sticking with Chandler's (perhaps conservative) figures.
delete
Apr 15, 2015
(14)
Most estimates are around a million, the half a million are conservative. It is considered to be the earliest city to have reached a million people
delete
Jun 21, 2015
(45)
What/where is Gaur?
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(64)
India
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(70)
Here

I added as extra type-ins the modern name and other aliases for the city, not that it will help many people get it. Fairly obscure.
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(19)
Gaur means dude in Icelandic. Laughed when I saw that.
delete
Jun 14, 2014
(71)
Must have missed Shanghai and Kolkata because of spelling because I know I typed them. I think I spelled Kolkata with two t's. No idea what I did to Shanghai.
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(70)
Calcutta will be accepted for Kolkata.
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(66)
Man, always forget Vijayanagar.
reply
delete
Jun 13, 2014
(67)
That was funny
reply
delete
Jun 14, 2014
(46)
Thanks world history...
reply
delete
Jun 4, 2017
(41)
All but New York.... must've thought I already typed it in.
reply
delete
Jun 16, 2014
(44)
Excellent quiz. just need more time.
reply
delete
Aug 1, 2014
(70)
seems to be a running theme. I guess I'm a little more strict than some when it comes to putting time limits on my quizzes. In my subjective opinion I find quizzes that have *too much* time to sometimes be boring... after you get through all the answers you know quickly and you've still got 7 minutes left on the clock where you are just taking wild stabs in the dark... but, as usual, you can turn off the timer if you like.
reply
delete
Aug 1, 2014
(53)
could you accept izmir for smyrna?
reply
delete
Dec 5, 2014
(70)
Sure. I actually just found out today that they were the same place. A few hours before you posted this comment. Weird.
reply
delete
Dec 5, 2014
(51)
I wrote Hangzhou at the last second just for trying haha. However, nice quiz! 25/44.
reply
delete
Mar 11, 2015
(26)
If you don't mind me asking, I believe when I typed Athens, Edo was accepted. Are those names synonymous for the same city or were they for different time periods or places?
reply
delete
May 19, 2015
(70)
Edo and Tokyo are the same city. Typing in Athens won't get you anything.
reply
delete
May 19, 2015
(64)
Nishapur as you mentioned is and was formally pronounced as Neyshabur. please accept this one too.
reply
delete
Jun 7, 2015
(14)
I would have thought Chang An would have been ranked in the 100s or 1000s, but it seems this city escaped the quizmaker's attention.
reply
delete
Jun 21, 2015
(63)
Good quiz. I sucked at it, but good quiz.
reply
delete
Jul 7, 2015
(51)
Cool Quiz!
reply
delete
Jul 8, 2015
(70)
Hey QM...

it seems that when you converted this to the new format you made the groups order up to down instead of left to right... which I think is probably a mistake. Don't know if you can fix that or not.
reply
delete
Sep 2, 2015
That's the intended behavior. A side effect of making the site more mobile friendly. Otherwise, if viewed on a phone, the years would be interlaced. The long term solution will be to add an option for "outer rows" as well as "outer columns". That's not possible right now though.
reply
delete
Sep 3, 2015
(70)
I suspected this was the answer. But... is that really what you want? I love this site.. but... IMO... it's still dumb to come here on a mobile device. What % of your visits come from mobile devices?
delete
Sep 3, 2015
(58)
Why not just set it to scroll mode and keep things the way they were? That way mobile and computer users will benefit :)
delete
Jan 20, 2017
(37)
Forgot about all American cities (Massive Facepalm)
reply
delete
Dec 23, 2015
(68)
Angkor! What?
reply
delete
Mar 22, 2016
(70)
Fira leads to Angkor. Angkor leads to Haiti. Haiti leads to San Francisco...
reply
delete
Mar 22, 2016
(24)
Great quiz but where are Cuzco and Tenochtitlan?
reply
delete
Jun 23, 2016
(70)
The source I was using estimates their populations as significantly lower than some other sources.
reply
delete
Jun 23, 2016
(21)
o.O
reply
delete
Sep 25, 2016
(27)
Wow, if these numbers are right it's pretty astonishing how fast Tokyo grew between 1900 and 1950!
reply
delete
Dec 1, 2016
(70)
It grew even faster between 1950 and 2015!
reply
delete
Dec 1, 2016
(67)
Only got 20/44, but pleased to have gotten at least 3 in each era, including Carthage. For some reason, Lost Nation, Iowa didn't show up on this one. :-P
reply
delete
Jun 4, 2017
(70)
Vijayanagar: 2%
Anuradhapura: 1%
Patan: 0%

I don't know why, I just find it weird (or interesting [or both]) how the ones that are harder to spell have a percentage higher than Patan.
reply
delete
Jun 4, 2017
(25)
I put the full "Saint Petersburg" but the quiz wouldn't take it
reply
delete
Jun 5, 2017
(70)
I think you must have made a typo
reply
delete
Jun 5, 2017
(43)
New York was not 12 million in 1950
reply
delete
Jun 5, 2017
(70)
Cool. Maybe you should write a book.
reply
delete
Jun 5, 2017
×
Congrats!
You have reached a new level
To save this level, you'll have to
create an account
×
Congrats!
You have earned a new badge
To save this badge, you'll have to
create an account