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Br J Gen Pract. 2009 April 1; 59(561): 292.
PMCID: PMC2662111

Basic statistics

Having been enthused by the Editor's opener in March Focus, regarding the biography of Joseph Needham,1 I of course turned immediately to the book reviews and got started.2

Alas, an abrupt halt was reached upon reading the description of Chongqing, ‘… said to be the world's biggest city with a population of well over 35 million.’ Who said this exactly? Having just seen Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, I knew Mumbai must be at least as big. A quick bit of googling confirmed this.3 As a city, Chongqing's official urban population is only circa 5million4 while Mumbai's is nearly 12 million; 2008 data. (As a municipality however, Chongqing's populus does indeed exceed 35 million.) In world urban rankings, this puts Chongqing around 55th in between Madrid and Ahmedabad, while Tokyo, Jakarta, and New York are the top urban dogs, all exceeding 20 Million.

So why get vexed with these minor differences in population definitions? Well, they're just basic stats, and if misquoted, makes one wonder as to the accuracy of the rest of the review, and allows disinterest to seep in.

Therefore, having heartily taken up the Editor's challenge, I have failed miserably to be uplifted, and so claim my prize.

Editor's comment

Dr Wiggin certainly deserves a prize, although what the reward should be for failing to be uplifted remains an open question. Negotiations to follow – Ed


1. Jewell D. March focus. Br J Gen Pract. 2009;59(560):154. [PubMed]
2. Bamforth I. Book review: Bomb, book and compass: Joseph Needham and the great secrets of China. Br J Gen Pract. 2009;59(560):220–222.
3. World's Largest Cities [Ranked by City Population]. (accessed 13 Mar 2009)
3. China: Chongqing. (accessed 13 Mar 2009)

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners