What Is the Difference Between a City and a Metropolitan Area and Where Are the Largest Metropolitan Areas?

A metropolitan area is much larger than the area within the official city limits.

A metropolitan area includes the central core city as well as the nearby communities that are tied to that city in terms of business and social activities.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines these metropolitan areas.

In land area, Juneau, Alaska, is larger than the entire state of Delaware.

The city limits of Juneau encompass 3,081 square miles (8,011 sq km), while Delaware has 2,057 square miles (5,348 sq km).

Here’s another comparison: the city of San Antonio, Texas, is 400 square miles (1,040 sq km), making it larger in area than New York City, which has 309 square miles (803 sq km).

Here are the population estimates for the nation’s largest metropolitan areas as of mid 1999:

  1. New York-northern New Jersey-southwestern Connecticut-Long Island 20,196,649
  2. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County 16,036,587
  3. Chicago-Gary-Kenosha 8,885,919
  4. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore 7,359,044
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose 6,873,645
  6. Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City 5,999,034
  7. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence 5,667,225
  8. Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint 5,469,312
  9. Dallas-Fort Worth 4,909,523
  10. Houston-Galveston-Brazoria 4,493,741
  11. Atlanta 3,857,097
  12. Miami-Fort Lauderdale 3,711,102
  13. Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton 3,465,760
  14. Phoenix-Mesa 3,013,696
  15. Cleveland-Akron 2,910,616
  16. Minneapolis-St. Paul 2,872,109
  17. San Diego 2,820,844
  18. St. Louis 2,569,029
  19. Denver-Boulder-Greeley 2,417,908
  20. Pittsburgh 2,331,336
About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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