During the pre-industrial age, cities were generally confined to major ports or capitals. The size of cities are correlated with economic growth, that’s why Beijing, China in its booming years in the 1500’s, was the world’s largest city with a population between 600 thousand to 700 thousand. Paris was the only European city to rank in the top 10 at the time with a population of 200 thousand. London was even smaller with a population of just 50 thousand!
Yet China’s economy began to stagnate, as Adam Smith noted in 1776, and the rise in commercial activity and industrialization had Europe take the driver seat of the world economy. At the height of the industrial era, Tokyo was the only Asian city that ranked in the top 10 population wise, London was first with a population of 6.5 million. A research paper by Chinese social scientists also assert that: