3D cities layer: another look

Last month in celebration of the ten year anniversary of Google Earth, Google added some new layers under the heading ‘Voyager’. We already had a look at the new ‘3D cities’ layer last week. However, as we showed you with the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer, it is possible to download the layer data and import it into excel for further analysis. So today, we are doing that for the ‘3D cities’ layer. Specifically, we are interested in the population figures that are displayed in the popups.

First, we need to point out that we do not know how accurate the population figures provided are. We do not know what sources Google uses for population data. Also, we do not know to what extent the population figures correspond to the actual areas covered with 3D. There are four locations with a population of zero: two football stadiums in Brazil, Black Rock City in the US and Arches National Park in the US. There were also twenty small towns in the US with a stated population of 333. This suggests they were merely estimated. Similar patterns occur elsewhere such as three towns in Bulgaria each having a population of 6,699.

Buenos Aires, Argentina, has the largest single population figure, but this isn’t necessarily the largest population covered by a single 3D mesh, as many places have multiple triangles per mesh.

Given the above caveats here are the population figures by continent:

Continent Population % of total
Africa 1,730,976 0.5
Australia 5,980,800 1.6
Asia 33,584,272 9.3
South America 39,630,909 10.9
Europe 133,978,334 36.9
North America 147,810,132 40.8
Total 362,715,423


Note that South Africa is the only country represented in Africa and Japan is the only country represented in Asia. Australia and New Zealand are counted in the continent of Australia.

Here are the figures by country:

Country Population
Ireland 33,262
Serbia 37,804
Luxembourg 77,853
Montenegro 140,997
Greece 161,068
New Zealand 776,234
Netherlands 873,576
Portugal 914,069
Sweden 925,027
Croatia 1,070,016
Finland 1,154,431
Denmark 1,722,610
South Africa 1,730,976
Norway 1,862,483
Czech Republic 2,445,534
Switzerland 2,640,162
Poland 2,683,702
Belgium 2,707,986
Bulgaria 2,759,257
Austria 2,849,803
Hungary 3,268,712
Romania 4,740,262
Australia 5,204,566
Chile 5,787,730
Argentina 12,704,129
Spain 15,687,278
Canada 16,196,329
France 17,242,280
Mexico 18,493,719
United Kingdom 20,589,299
Brazil 21,139,050
Germany 21,412,939
Italy 25,977,924
Japan 33,584,272
United States 113,120,084
Total 362,715,423

Japan is the second largest, which is not surprising when you realise that Tokyo alone is listed as having a population of over 8 million.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Well these aren’t very accurate at all, they are off in the UK population by 3 times

  2. LeRoy Mobley says:

    The 3D Cities Layer in western Japan has many errors. Of the 12 orange label markers in Okayama, Hyogo, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto prefectures, 6 lie within the city boundaries which they mark and 6 do not. Some are not even within the boundaries of adjoining cities.

    In addition, I counted 32 cities which have 3D imagery but are not marked at all. Many of these do not include the whole cities. (This, however, is true for some of the cities which are labeled.) In fairness, only small percentages of the cites in Nara Ken appear in 3D, as the most recent additions involve crossing over the ridgeline boundary from Osaka Fu to Nara Ken.

    With so many cities only partially completed, population estimates based on even accurate data (and the few cities I checked seemed to be close) is bound to be largely guess work.

    Correcting the label markers locations should be simple. Just enable the Boundaries and Labels Layer, and move them over the city office locations that are marked there.

  3. As many of Google’s population figures bear no relation to official population figures for places named, Google should explain how the figures are derived or remove them.

    However, where official population figures relate to geo-tagged small areas in countries such as the UK it would be a simple task for Google to ‘best fit’ and aggregate them within the digital boundaries of the 3D areas and to update them when necessary

  4. Why is the city of Crotone, Italy underwater? is this a glitch?

  5. collin237 says:

    The largest concentrated set of meshes seems to be in Barcelona, Spain. It’s of unrivaled size, perhaps covering the entire provincia. Any idea why?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.