The 20 Largest Cities in Europe in 1900

Europe accounts for 11% of all continents’ total population and has been growing increasingly every year.

It is the third most populated continent with almost 750 million people, falling behind Africa and Asia.

In 1900, Europe was the second-largest continent by population with 406 million people. It is shown that the population nearly doubled due to several factors such as migration and natural population growth.

In fact, the largest European city in 1900 was London, United Kingdom, with an overall population of 4,504,733.

It is followed by Paris, France with 2,660,559, and Berlin, German Empire with 1,888,848 residents. Let’s take a look at the 20 most populated European cities in 1900 and what their populations were at that time.

NumberCityCountryPopulation in 1900
1LondonUnited Kingdom4,504,733
2ParisFrance 2,660,559
3BerlinGerman Empire1,888,848
4ViennaAustro-Hungarian Empire1,662,269
5St. PetersburgRussian Empire1,248,739
6MoscowRussian Empire1,036,757
7ConstantinopleOttoman Empire899,736
8GlasgowUnited Kingdom750,664
9BudapestAustro-Hungarian Empire732,322
10WarsawRussian Empire727,325
11HamburgGerman Empire705,738
12LiverpoolUnited Kingdom679,204
13BrusselsBelgium570,814
14NaplesItaly 553,712
15MadridSpain 540,109
16ManchesterUnited Kingdom539,893
17BarcelonaSpain 528,946
18AmsterdamNetherlands 523,557
19BirminghamUnited Kingdom517,618
20MunichGerman Empire499,932

1. London, United Kingdom – 4,504,733

London

London was the most populated city in 1900 with about 4.5 million residents. In 1931, there were 4.9 million residents in inner London and 3.2 million in outer London, a total of 8.1 million in all of London.

The population back then consisted of Germans, French, Italians, Jews, and migrants from provincial Britain.

As of 2020, approximately 9 million people live here.

2. Paris, France – 2,660,559

Paris

The highest recorded population in Paris was in 1921 with a population of approximately 2.6 million residents.

However, over the years, the City of Light experienced a decrease in population from the 1960s to 1975.

People moved to the suburbs and family sizes decreased during these years, which contributed to the decline in population.

Moreover, the postwar baby boom ended between 1968 and 1975, resulting in slow growth in the population.

3. Berlin, German Empire – 1,888,848

Berlin

Nearly 1.9 million people lived in Berlin in 1900. The population grew to 2,071,257 in 1901 and later decreased to 1,681,916 in 1917.

However, in 1925, there was a dramatic increase in population up to 4,024,286 when the Greater Berlin Act was passed in 1920.

From 1946 to 2005, the population remained steady between 3.1 million and 3.5 million.

4. Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire – 1,662,269

Vienna

In 1900, Vienna was the fourth largest city in Europe with a population of 1,662,269. Vienna reached a historic spike in population in 1910, with approximately 2 million residents after incorporating the suburban areas to expand.

However, the population continued to decline from 1923 to the early 2000s. In the aftermath of World War I, many Czechs and Hungarians returned home, which caused a significant decline in the population.

5. St. Petersburg, Russian Empire – 1,248,739

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg had a population of almost 1.3 million in 1900. The population continued to grow until 1916, to approximately 2.4 million people.

From 1917 to 1947, the city’s population declined due to several reasons such as starvation from war and famine-related diseases.

In 2021, St. Petersburg was Russia’s second-largest city, with 5,384,342 residents.

6. Moscow, Russian Empire – 1,036,757

Moscow

In 1900, Moscow had a population of 1,036,757 and later increased in 1915 to 1.8 million residents.

Moscow’s population continued to rise due to legal and illegal migrants and the incorporation of suburbs.

The population increased to 2,019,500 in 1926 and grew up to 8,769,117 in 1989. It steadily grew between 1989 and 2021 and hasn’t experienced a decline between these years.

7. Constantinople, Ottoman Empire – 899,736

Istanbul

Istanbul is the modern name for the ancient city of Constantinople in modern Turkey. In 1900 of Pre-Republic, Constantinople had a population of 899,736.

However, the population further dropped to 691,000 in 1927 when the Greeks were displaced.

After the decline in 1927, the population significantly grew to 5,494,900 in 1985.

8. Glasgow, United Kingdom – 750,664

Glasgow

In 1900, Glasgow was considered “the Second City of the Empire” with its large population of 750,664.

In 1974, Glasgow reached its highest number of residents, peaking at almost 5.3 million.

It further decreased to 629,000 in 2001 due to overspills and rehoming of residents. The population demographics increased because of migrants from other countries and consisted of Asians, Chinese, Indians, Africans, and Pakistanis.

9. Budapest, Austro-Hungarian Empire – 732,322

Budapest

Budapest had a population of 732,322 in 1900 and continued to increase until 1941 with 1,164,963 people.

There was a slight decrease in 1949 to about 1,057,912, a 107,051 difference from 1941.

The highest population was recorded in 1980, peaking at 2,059,347 people. From 1980 to 2005, Budapest faced a continuous decline, going as low as 1,695,814 for the 2005 population data.

10. Warsaw, Russian Empire – 727,325

Warsaw

Warsaw was the tenth largest European city in 1900, with a population of 727,325. There was a steady increase in population from 1909 to 1939 before decreasing by -67.6% in 1945.

The population in 1945 declined to 422,000 as a result of the war. However, there was a 94.8% increase in population in 1950, which is about 822,036 people.

11. Hamburg, German Empire – 705,738

Hamburg

In 1900, Hamburg had a population of 705,738. The city experienced a steady rise in population, reaching its peak in 1961 with a total of 1,832,346 residents.

There were many Japanese people who migrated to Hamburg in 1963. The Japanese community started with about 800 people and became one of the largest in Germany in 1985.

12. Liverpool, United Kingdom – 679,204

Liverpool

Liverpool’s population in 1900 was 679,204. In 1902, the city expanded and incorporated several suburbs such as Grassendale, Cressington, and Aigburth.

By 1908, the population rose to 753,203 people and then 855,688 in 1931, the highest of its population.

In 1991, the population decreased to 452,450 people as a result of the mass exodus.

13. Brussels, Belgium – 570,814

Brussels

The population of Brussels rose steadily from 570,814 in 1900 to 685,268 in 1919. The Flemish and French communities designated Brussels as the capital city in 1980.

By 1980, Brussels-Capital had a population of 1,008,715. It decreased to 964,385 in 1990, which is a 44,330 difference.

14. Naples, Italy – 553,712

Naples

The 14th largest European city by population in 1900 was Naples, one of the largest cities in Italy.

The population was 553,712 in 1900, 751,290 in 1911, and 859,629 in 1921.

By 1971, Naples’ population reached its peak up to 1,226,594, a 0.36% increase from 1961. It eventually dropped to 1,212,387 in 1981 and 1,067,365 in 1991.

15. Madrid, Spain – 540,109

Madrid

Since Madrid became the capital of Spain in 1561, it has seen overall growth in population. Madrid had a population of 540,109 residents in 1900 and 750,896 in 1920.

In a span of 20 years, the population doubled and became 1,088,647 residents in 1940. By 1970, the population reached a peak of 3,146,071 but has steadily dropped since then as satellite towns have grown.

16. Manchester, United Kingdom – 539,893

Manchester

In 1900, Manchester was the 16th largest European city with a population of 539,893 residents.

The population increased when the Manchester Ship Canal opened which attracted foreign employees from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Moreover, Manchester had one of the largest Chinese communities in the United Kingdom as a result of migrants from Hong Kong, one of the British Colonies.

By 1931, Manchester attained its highest number of residents of 766,311.

17. Barcelona, Spain – 528,946

Barcelona

Barcelona had 528,946 residents in 1900 and further grew to 710,335 in 1920. By 1930, the population reached 1,005,565 due to its immigrant community.

The city faced continuous population growth, peaking at 1,745,142 in 1970 and 1,707,286 in 1990.

However, the population eventually decreased in the 1990s as residents preferred living in the countryside for a better quality of life.

18. Amsterdam, Netherlands – 523,557

Amsterdam

Amsterdam ranks 18th in the list of European cities with the highest population in 1900. It had about 523,557 residents in 1900 and steadily increased in the following decades.

There were 573,983 residents in 1910, 647,427 in 1920, and 757,386 in 1930. It reached its peak in 1959, with a population of approximately 872,000.

19. Birmingham, United Kingdom – 517,618

Birmingham

The fifth UK city included in this list is Birmingham, with a population of 517,618 in 1900. The city reached an all-time high of 1,112,685 residents in 1951.

From 1961 to 1981, there was a slight drop in population. The population decreased by 0.5% in 1961, 0.8% in 1971, and an immense 9.3% in 1981.

20. Munich, German Empire – 499,932

Munich

The 20th largest city in Europe in 1900 was Munich, having a population of 499,932. The city’s population peaked in 1972 at 1,338,924 residents.

As a result of World War II, there was a significant decrease in its population between 1939 and 1945, either because people migrated or relocated.

After the war, Munich eventually had a gradual population increase from 1945 to 1958.