List of oldest continuously inhabited cities

This is a list of present-day cities by the time period over which they have been continuously inhabited.

The age claims listed are generally disputed and may indeed be obsolete. Differences in opinion can result from different definitions of "city" as well as "continuously inhabited" and historical evidence is often disputed.

Several cities listed here (Balkh, Byblos, Damascus, and Jericho) each popularly claim to be "the oldest city in the world". Caveats to the validity of each claim are discussed in the "Notes" column.

Middle East

Continuous habitation since the Chalcolithic (or Copper Age) is vaguely possible but highly problematic to prove archaeologically for several Levantine cities (Jericho, Byblos, Damascus, Sidon and Beirut).

Cities became more common outside the Fertile Crescent with the Early Iron Age from about 1100 BC. The foundation of Rome in 753 BC is conventionally taken as one of the dates initiating Classical Antiquity.

Name Historical region Location Continuously inhabited as a "city" since Notes
!a !a !a −9e99
~z ~z ~z 9e99
Byblos (Jubayl) Levant Lebanon -5000 ! Chalcolithic (5000 BC or earlier)[1] Settled from the Neolithic (carbon-dating tests have set the age of earliest settlement around 7000[2]), a city since the 3rd millennium BC.[1] Byblos had a reputation as the "oldest city in the world" in Antiquity (according to Philo of Byblos).
Damascus Levant Syria -3000 ! Chalcolithic Damascus is often claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, and evidence exists of a settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC. However, within the area of Damascus, there is no evidence for large-scale settlement until the 2nd millennium BC.[3]
Susa (Shush) Khuzestan Iran -4200 ! 4200 BC Archaeological excavations indicate that the site has been inhabited since at least 5000 BC.[4] The emergence of acropolis in Susa is determined by C14 dating from 4395-3955 BC,[5] roughly dated about 4200 BC as time of foundation.[6] Susa was a large city during Ancient and Medieval periods, but marginalized in 13th century[4] due to Mongol invasion. The city further degraded from 15th century when a majority of its population moved to Dezful and it remained as a small settlement until the 20th century.[7]
Sidon Levant Lebanon -4000 ! 4000 BC[8] There is evidence that Sidon was inhabited from as long ago as 4000 BC, and perhaps, as early as Neolithic times (6000 – 4000 BC).
Faiyum (as Crocodilopolis or Arsinoe, ancient Egyptian: Shediet) Lower Egypt EgyptFaiyum Governorate, Egypt -4000 ! c. 4000 BC[9]
Gaziantep Anatolia TurkeySoutheastern Anatolia, Turkey -3650 ! c. 3650 BC[10] Although most modern scholars place the Classical Antiochia ad Taurum at Gaziantep, some maintain that it was located at Aleppo. Furthermore, that the two cities occupy the same site is far from established fact.[11] Assuming this to be the case, the founding date of the present site would be about 1000 BC.[12]
Jericho Levant Palestinian territories -3000 ! Chalcolithic (3000 BC or earlier) Traces of habitation from 9000 BC.[13][14] Fortifications date to 6800 BC (or earlier), making Jericho the earliest known walled city.[15]

Archaeological evidence indicates that the city was destroyed and abandoned several times (sometimes remaining uninhabited for hundreds of years at a time), with later rebuilding and expansion.[16][17]

Rey Media Iran -3000 ! 3000 BC[18] A settlement at the site goes back to the 3rd millennium BC. Rey (also Ray or Rayy) is mentioned in the Avesta (an important text of prayers in Zoroastrianism) as a sacred place, and it is also featured in the book of Tobit.[18]
Beirut Levant Lebanon -3000 ! 3000 BC[19]
Jerusalem Levant Israel -2800 ! 2800 BC[20]
Tyre Levant Lebanon -2750 ! 2750 BC[21]
Jenin Levant Palestinian territories -2450 ! c. 2450 BC[22] Jenin's history goes back to 2450 BC, when it was built by the Canaanites. After 1244, Jenin flourished economically because of its location on the trade route, until a major earthquake completely destroyed the city.[23]
Arbil Mesopotamia IraqIraqi Kurdistan, Iraq -2300 ! 2300 BC or earlier[24]
Kirkuk (as Arrapha) Mesopotamia IraqKirkuk Governorate, Iraq -2200 ! 3000–2200 BC[25]
Jaffa Levant Israel -2000 ! c. 2000 BC Archaeological evidence shows habitation from 7500 BC.[26]
Aleppo Levant Syria -2000 ! c. 2000 BC Evidence of occupation since about 5000 BC.[27]
Hebron Levant Palestinian territories -1500 ! c. 1500 BC "Hebron is considered one of the oldest cities and has been continuously inhabited for nearly 3500 years."[28]
Gaza City Levant Palestinian territories -1000 ! c. 1000 BC While evidence of habitation dates back at least 5,000 years, it is said to be continuously inhabited for a little more than 3,000 years.[29][30]
Hamadan (as Ecbatana) Median Empire Iran -800 ! c. 800 BC[31]
Nablus (as Shechem) Levant Palestinian territories -100 ! c. 100 Nablus is a Canaanite city. It was inhabited since the fourth millennium BC. In 724 BC it has been ruined by Assyria and after revival in the 3rd and 2nd centuries, it has been finally destroyed by the Hasmonean Hyrcanus in 128 BC. 200 years later the new Roman city was founded next to the ruined settlement.[32]
(as Rabbath-Ammon)
Levant Jordan 1878 ! c. 1878 Amman has been inhabited by several civilizations. The first civilization on record is during the Neolithic period, around 7500 BC, when archaeological discoveries in 'Ain Ghazal. It was then destroyed by several earthquakes and natural disasters in the Middle Ages, and remained a small village and a pile of ruins for about 500 years, until the Circassian settlement in 1878.[33]


Name Historical region Location Continuously inhabited since Notes
!a !a !a −9e99
~z ~z ~z 9e99
Argos Neolithic, Mycenaean Greece Greece -5000 ! 5th millennium BC. Continuously inhabited mostly as an urban settlement, for the past 7,000 years,[34] historical, recorded history since second half of 1st millennium BC.
Athens Neolithic, Mycenaean Greece GreAttica, Greece -4500 ! 5th–4th Millennium BC[35][page needed] Earliest human presence 11th–7th millennium BC,[36] recorded history begins in 1400 BC.
Mycenae Neolithic, Mycenaean Greece GrePeloponnese, Greece -3500 ! c. 3500 BC or earlier Only scattered sherds from disturbed debris have been found datable to the Neolithic (prior to 3500 BC). The site was inhabited, but the stratigraphy has been destroyed by later construction.
Plovdiv Thrace BulPlovdiv Province, Bulgaria -3000 ! 3000[37] – 4000 BC[38][39] Thracian foundation. Earliest evidence of a settlement dates back to 6000 BC.[40][41]
Kutaisi Colchis Imereti province, Georgia -2000 ! c. 2000 BC Founded as Aia. Archeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the kingdom of Colchis as early as the second millennium BC. It is widely believed by historians that when Apollonius Rhodius was writing about Jason and the Argonauts and their legendary journey to Colchis, Kutaisi/Aia was the final destination of the Argonauts and the residence of King Aeëtes.
Chania Crete GreCrete, Greece -1400 ! c. 1400 BC Minoan foundation as Kydonia
Larnaca Alashiya Cyprus -1400 ! c. 1400 BC Mycenaean, then Phoenician colony
Thebes Mycenaean Greece GreBoeotia, Greece -1400 ! c. 1400 BC Mycenaean foundation
Trikala Mycenaean Greece GreThessaly, Greece -1201 ! before 1200 BC founded as Trikke
Chalcis Mycenaean Greece Greece -1201 ! before 1200 BC mentioned by Homer
Lisbon Iron Age Iberia Portugal -1200 ! c. 1200 BC A settlement since the Neolithic. Allis Ubbo, arguably a Phoenician name, became Olissipo(-nis) in Greek and Latin (also Felicitas Julia after Roman conquest in 205 BC).
Cádiz Iron Age Iberia SpaAndalusia, Spain -1100 ! 1100 BC founded as Phoenician Gadir, "Europe's oldest city"[42][43]
Patras Mycenaean Greece Greece -1100 ! c. 1100 BC founded by Patreus
Mtskheta Caucasian Iberia Georgia 1000 ! c. 1000 BC Remains of towns at this location have been dated to earlier than the year 1000 BC, and Mtskheta was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia during the 3rd century BC – 5th century AD. It was the site of early Christian activity, and the location where Christianity was proclaimed the state religion of Georgia in 337.
Mytilene Lesbos GreNorth Aegean, Greece -950 ! 10th century BC
Chios Chios GreNorth Aegean, Greece -1100 ! c. 1100 BC
Yerevan Urartu Armenia -800 ! 782 BC [44] Founded as Erebuni. The Shengavit Settlement in the southwestern district of Yerevan was founded in the late 4th millennium BC, during the Calcolithic period.
Málaga Iron Age Iberia Spa Andalusia, Spain -750 ! 8th century BC founded as Phoenician Malaka.[45]
Rome Latium ItaLazio, Italy -753 ! 753 BC Continuous habitation since approximately 1000 BC.; pastoral village on the northern part of the Palatine Hill dated to the 9th century BC; see also History of Rome and Founding of Rome.
Messina (as Zancle) Sicily ItaSicily, Italy -750 ! 8th century BC
Reggio di Calabria (as Rhégion) Magna Graecia ItaCalabria, Italy -743 ! 743 BC[46] Continuous habitation since approximately 1500 BC, as we have notice about the Ausonian-Italic pre-Greek settlement and about the sculptor Léarchos of Reggio (early 15th century BC)[46] and King Iokastos (late 13th century BC).[46]
Syracuse Sicily ItaSicily, Italy -734 ! 734 BC A colony of the Greek city of Corinth
Volterra Tuscany ItaTuscany, Italy -725 ! c. 725 BC An Etruscan mining settlement [47]
Crotone (as Kroton) Calabria ItaMagna Graecia, Italy -710 ! 710 BC
Taranto (as Taras) Magna Graecia ItaPuglia, Italy -706 ! 706 BC
Corfu, Kerkyra Corfu GreIonian Islands, Greece -700 ! 700 BC
Naples Magna Graecia Italy 9-8th century BC Neolithic site dated to about VI millennium BC. Bronze Age Greek settlement was established in the Naples area in the 2nd millennium BC. A larger colony – initially known as Parthenope – developing in the 9-8th centuries BC on the Island of Megaride and Echia Moutain, at the end of the Greek Dark Ages. The city was refounded as Neápolis in the 6th century BC.[48]
Istanbul/Byzantion Thrace Anatolia Turkey -667 ! 685 BC Anatolia
667 BC Thrace
Neolithic site dated to 6400 BC, over port of Lygos by Thracians c. 1150 BC
Durrës Illyria Albania -627 ! 627 BC Founded[49] by settlers from Corcyra & Corinth as Epidamnos
Kerch Crimea Ukraine -600 ! 7th century BC
Feodosiya (as Theodosia) Crimea Ukraine -600 ! 7th century BC
Edessa, Greece Macedonia Greece -601 ! before the 6th century BC capital of Macedonia up to 6th century BC
Marseilles (as Massilia) Gaul France -600 ! 600 BC A colony of the Greek city of Phocaea
Varna Thrace BulBulgarian Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria -570 ! 585 BC – 570 BC founded[50] as Odessos by settlers from Miletus
Kavala Macedonia Greece -550 ! 6th century BC founded as Neapolis
Mangalia Dacia Romania -550 ! 6th century BC founded as Callatis
Constanţa Dacia Romania -550 ! 6th century BC founded as Tomis
Mantua Po Valley ItaLombardy, Italy -550 ! 6th century BC Village settlement since c. 2000 BC; became an Etruscan city in the 6th century BC.
Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi Bessarabia Ukraine -550 ! 6th century BC founded as Tyras
Serres Macedonia Greece -450 ! 5th century BC first mentioned in the 5th century BC as Siris
Lamia Greece Greece -501 ! before the 5th century BC first mentioned 424 BC
Veria Macedonia Greece -432 ! c. 432 BC first mentioned by Thucydides in 432 BC
Rhodes Rhodes, Aegean Sea GreDodecanese, Greece -408 ! c. 408 BC
Sofia Moesia BulSofia Valley, Bulgaria -350 ! 4th century BC Celtic foundation as Serdica.[51]
Metz Gaul France -350 ! 4th century BC founded as the oppidum of Celtic Mediomatrici. However, Human permanent presence has been established in the site since 2500 BC.
Qabala (as Kabalaka) Caucasian Albania Azerbaijan -350 ! 4th century BC Archeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the Caucasian Albania as early as the 4th century BC.[52]
Stara Zagora Thrace Bulgaria -342 ! 342 BC It was called Beroe in ancient times and was founded by Phillip II of Macedon[53][54][55][56] although a Thracian settlement neolithic inhabitation have been discovered as well.
Thessaloniki Macedonia (ancient kingdom) Greece -315 ! 315 BC founded as a new city in the same place of the older city Therme.
Berat Macedonia (ancient kingdom) Albania -314 ! 314 BC Founded[57] by Cassander as Antipatreia
Belgrade Illyria Serbia -279 ! 279 BC Vinča culture prospered around Belgrade in the 6th millennium BC. Founded as Singidunum.
Niš Illyria Serbia -279 ! 279 BC Founded as Navissos. Neolithic settlements date to 5000–2000 BC.
Cartagena (as Carthago Nova) Iberia Spain -228 ! 228 BC Carthaginian colony, founded by Hasdrubal Barca
Barcelona (as Barcino) Iberia SpaCatalonia, Spain -250 ! 3rd century BC Carthaginian colony, founded by Hamilcar Barca
Stobi/Gradsko Macedonia Republic of Macedonia -217 ! 217 BC founded as Stobi by Philip V of Macedon
Sremska Mitrovica Illyria Serbia -50 ! 1st century BC Founded as Sirmium. Neolithic settlements date to 5000 BC and are with other archeological findings evidence to continuous habitation.
Smederevo Illyria Serbia -50 ! 1st century BC Founded as Semendria.
Évora Lusitania Portugal -53 ! 53 BC (Roman conquest) Evidence of Lusitanian settlement prior to Roman occupation.
Paris Lutetia France -52 ! 52 BC Archaeological evidence indicates human habitation as early as 4200 BC.[58] During the Gallic Wars, Caesar's armies set fire to Lutetia "a town of the Parisii, situated on an island on the river Seine."[59] While only a garrison at best on the Île de la Cité during some periods after 1st and 2nd century, was renamed Paris in 360 AD[60][61]
Zürich (Lindenhof) Gaul Switzerland -50 ! c. 50 BC lakeside settlement traces dating to the Neolithic.
Trier Gallia Belgica Germany -30 ! 30 BC Oldest city in Germany.
Nijmegen Germania Inferior Netherlands -19 ! 19 BC Oldest city in the Netherlands.
Chur Raetia Prima SwiGrisons, Switzerland -15 ! 15 BC habitation since the 4th millennium BC (Pfyn culture).
Tongeren Germania Inferior Belgium -10 ! 10 BC Oldest city in Belgium.
Solothurn Gaul Switzerland 20 ! c. 20 AD Evidence of pre-Roman, Celtic settlement; newly founded by the Romans between 14 and 37 AD, called the "oldest city in Gaul besides Trier" in a verse on the city's clock tower.
London (as Londinium) Britannia UK (England) 43 ! 43 AD
Bath (as Aquae Sulis) Britannia UK (England) 43 ! 43 AD The city was established as a spa town by the Romans in 43 AD[62]
Winchester (as Venta Belgarum) Britannia UK (England) 70 ! c. 70 AD Winchester was built as a Roman town in c. 70 AD.[63]
York (as Eboracum) Britannia UK (England) 72 ! c. 72 AD The city was founded in or around AD 72 when the 9th Roman Legion set up camp there.[64]
Skopje Macedonia (Roman province) Republic of Macedonia 96 ! 81–96 AD Founded in the time of Domitian as Scupi.
Novi Sad Illyria Serbia 50 ! 1st century AD Founded as Cusum.
Baku Azerbaijan Absheron peninsula The 1st century AD. The first written evidence for Baku dates to the 1st century AD.[65]
Verdun Lotharingia France 350 ! 4th century seat of the bishop of Verdun from the 4th century, but populated earlier.
Kiev Medieval East Slavic civilization Ukraine 482 ! 482 AD Founded by Slavic tribe leader Kyi. Some sources suggest Kiev was founded in 640 BC.
Tbilisi Caucasian Iberia Kartli province, Georgia 500 ! c. 500 According to the widely accepted legend the city was founded by King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Georgia. New archaeological studies of the region have revealed that the territory of Tbilisi was settled by humans as early as the 4th millennium BC. The earliest actual (recorded) accounts of settlement of the location come from the 4th century, when a fortress was built during King Varaz-Bakur's reign.
Aberdeen Pictland UK (Scotland) 580 ! c. 580 A settlement was established by c. 580 when records show the city's first church was built then. However, there is archaeological evidence of settlements in the area dating back to 6000BC.[66]
Edinburgh as Din Eidyn Gododdin UK (Scotland) 580 ! c. 580 Edinburgh is mention as a settlement in the poem Y Gododdin, traditionally dated to the around the late 6th and early 7th century.[67] The Poem uses The Brythonic name Din Eidyn (Fort of Eidyn) for Edinburgh and describes it as the capital of Gododdin. It is not until around 638 that the city starts being referred to as Edin-burh or Edinburgh, after the city was conquered by the Angles of Bernicia[68]
Prague Bohemia Czech Republic 550 ! c. 6th century The first written record dates back to the 10th century.
Inverness Pictland UK (Scotland) 550 ! c. 6th century A settlement was established by the 6th century when St Columba visited the Pictish King Brude at his fortress there.[69]
Glasgow Dál Riata or Alt Clut UK (Scotland) 550 ! c. 6th century A settlement was founded in the 6th century[70] by St Mungo, who is the city's patron Saint.[71]
Ioannina Byzantine Empire Greece 565 ! 527–565 founded by emperor Justinian I
Kraków (Wawel Hill) Lesser Poland Poland 650 ! 7th century[72] The first written record dates back to the 10th century.
Århus Denmark 700 ! c. 770
Ribe Jutland Denmark 710 ! 704–710 [73] Oldest town in Denmark
Staraya Ladoga Russia 753 ! 753
Heraklion Crete Greece 824 ! 824 founded by the Saracens
Dublin Ireland IreIreland 841 ! 841
Veliky Novgorod Russia 859 ! 859
Reykjavík Iceland Iceland 871 ! c. 871[74]
Xanthi Thrace Greece 878 ! before 879 first medieval reference as Xantheia
Skara Sweden 988 ! 988
Lund Denmark Sweden 990 ! c. 990[75]
Trondheim Norway Norway 997 !997 Founded by king Olav Tryggvason. Archaeological findings of city settlement back to the 8th century.

Central and South Asia

Name Historical region Location Continuously inhabited since Notes
!a !a !a −9e99
~z ~z ~z 9e99
Balkh (as Bactra) Bactria AfgBalkh Province, Afghanistan -1500 ! 1500 BC
Varanasi Iron Age India IndUttar Pradesh, India -1100 ! c. 1200–1100 BC[76] Iron Age foundation (Painted Grey Ware culture).
Ujjain (As Avanti) Malwa India -800 ! c. 800 BC[77] Rose to prominence in ca 700 BC as capital of Avanti during India's second wave of urbanization. Walled in ca 600 BC.
Samarqand Sogdiana Uzbekistan -700 ! 700 BC
Rajagriha (Rajgir) Magadha IndBihar, India -600 ! 600 BC
Madurai Pandyan kingdom IndTamil Nadu, India -500 ! 500 BC There are accounts of Megasthenes (c. 350 – 290 BC) a Greek ethnographer in the Hellenistic period, author of the work Indica, having visited Madurai (then, a bustling city and capital of Pandya Kingdom). Mahavamsa, the Sri Lankan chronicle mentions that King Vijaya married a princess from Madurai, and his period is mentioned to be around 543 BC.
Vaisali Magadha IndBihar, India -500 ! 500 BC[78]
Patna Magadha IndBihar, India -450 ! 5th century BC[79] As Pataliputra was founded by Ajatashatru.
Peshawar Gandhara PakKhyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan -350 ! c. 400–300 BC[80] Ongoing excavations in the Gor Khuttree region have given proof of the ancient foundations of the city and have established Peshawar as one of the oldest settlements in Central and South Asia.
Mahasthangarh, Bogra Pundravardhana BanBogra District, Bangladesh - 300BC ! 4th century BC[81] Remains of the ancient city of Pundranagara.
Thanjavur Early Chola kingdom IndTamil Nadu, India -300 ! 300 BC Some scholars believe that the city has been existing since the Sangam Period
Bamyan Bactria AfgBamyan Province, Afghanistan - 1st century AD ! 1st century AD
Kathmandu-Patan, Lalitpur Nepal Kathmandu valley, Nepal - 2nd century AD ! c. 2nd century AD The epigraphically attested history of Kathmandu valley begins in the 2nd century. Folklore speaks of a hoarier past.

East and Southeast Asia

Name Historical region Location Continuously inhabited since Notes
!a !a !a −9e99
~z ~z ~z 9e99
Luoyang (as Zhenxun, Xibo) Xia Dynasty ChiHenan, China -2070 ! c. 2070 BC
Xi'an (as Haojing, Fenghao, Chang'an, Daxing) Zhou Dynasty ChiShaanxi, China -1100 ! c. 1100 BC
Beijing Ji, Yan ChiBeijing, China -1000 ! c. 1045 BC
Suzhou (as Gusu, Wu) Wu ChiJiangsu, China -514 ! 514 BC
Chengdu Shu ChiSichuan, China -400 ! c. 400 BC The 9th Kaiming king of the ancient Shu moved his capital to the city's current location from today's nearby Pixian.
Nanjing (as Yecheng, Jianye, Jiankang, Jinling) Wu ChiJiangsu, China -495 ! c. 495 BC Fu Chai, Lord of the State of Wu, founded a fort named Yecheng (冶城) in today's Nanjing area.
Kaifeng (as Daling, Bianzhou, Dongjing, Bianjing) Wei ChiHenan, China -364 ! c. 364 BC The State of Wei founded a city called Daliang (大梁)as its capital in this area.
Guangzhou (as Panyu) Qin Dynasty ChiGuangdong, China -214 ! 214 BC
Hangzhou (as Lin'an) Qin Dynasty ChiZhejiang, China -200 ! c. 200 BC The city of Hangzhou was founded about 2,200 years ago during the Qin Dynasty.
Osaka (as Naniwa) Japan Japan c. 400 AD It was inhabited as early at the 6th-5th centuries BC, and became a port city during the Kofun period. It temporarily served as the capital of Japan from 645 to 655.
Hanoi (as Tống Bình, Đại La, Thăng Long, Đông Đô) Jiaozhou Vietnam 454 AD First mentioned as Tống Bình in 454 AD, the Đại La citadel was built in 767 during the reign of Emperor Daizong of Tang, Ly Cong Uan renamed it Thăng Long in 1010.
Palembang Srivijaya Indonesia 600 ! c. 600 AD oldest city in the Malay Archipelago, capital of the Srivijaya empire.
Nara (as Heijō-kyō) Japan Japan 710 AD Built as a new capital city in 710.
Kyoto (as Heian-kyō, and sometimes known in the west as Miyako) Japan Japan 794 AD Shimogamo Shrine was built in the 6th century, but the city was officially founded as Heian-kyō when it became the capital in 794.
Manila Kingdom of Tondo and Kingdom of Maynila Philippines 900 ! 900[82] oldest known settlement in the Philippines as documented by the Laguna Copperplate Inscription; when the Spanish, led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, arrived, it was still inhabited and led by at least one datu.


Name Historical region Location Continuously inhabited since Notes
!a !a !a −9e99
~z ~z ~z 9e99
Luxor (as Waset, better known by its Greek name Thebes) Ancient Egypt Egypt -3200 c. 3200 BC First established as capital of Upper Egypt, Thebes later became the religious capital of the nation until its decline in the Roman period.
Zeila/Avalite Bilad al-Barbar Somalia -400 !c. 9th century BC Major trading city in the Horn of Africa
Carthage Tunisia 814 BC Founded by the Phoenicians.[83]
Yeha D'mt Ethiopia -700 !c. 700 BC One of the oldest site of continuous habitation in Sub-Saharan Africa.[84]
Cape Guardafui Bilad al-Barbar Somalia -400 !c. 500 BC Referred to as Aromata promontorium by the Ancient Greeks, Guardafui was described as early as the 1st century AD in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, along with other flourishing commercial settlements on the northern Somali littoral.[85]
Axum Kingdom of Axum Ethiopia -400 !c. 400 BC Ancient capital of the Kingdom of Axum
Berbera Bilad al-Barbar Somalia -400 !c. 400 BC The city was described as 800 stadia beyond the city of the Avalites, described in the eighth chapter of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, which was written by a Greek merchant in the 1st century AD
Igodomigodo Kingdom of Benin Nigeria -400 !c. 400 BC City of Benin, one of the oldest cities in Nigeria
Ife NigOsun State, Nigeria -350 !c. 350 BC Earliest traces of habitation date to the 4th century BC.[86]
Alexandria Egypt -332 !332 BC Founded by Alexander the Great[87]
Djenné-Jeno Mali -200 !c. 200 BC One of the oldest known cities in sub-Saharan Africa[88]
Ghadames (as Cydamus) Libya -19 !19 BC Roman town founded in 19 BC but "archaeological evidence shows occupation of the area in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras"[89]
Old Cairo Egypt 100 !c. 100 Babylon Fortress moved to its current location in the reign of Emperor Trajan, forming the core of Old or Coptic Cairo[90]
Kismayo Bilad al-Barbar, after the 14th century part of the Ajuuraan Empire Somalia 100 ! 4th century The Kismayo area was originally a small fishing settlement and expendad to a major trading city on the Somali coast.[91]
Mogadishu Sultanate of Mogadishu Somalia 900 !c. 700 Successor of the ancient trading power of Sarapion
Sofala Mozambique 900 !c. 700 One of the oldest harbours documented in Southern Africa,
Fes (as Fes-al-Bali) Morocco 789 !789 Founded as the new capital of the Idrisid Dynasty[92]
Marrakesh (Murakuc) Morocco 1070 !1070 Foundeded by the Almoravid Dynasty[93]
Lamu Kenya 1300 !c. 1300 Founded by Swahili settlers some time in the 14th century[94]
Cape Town South Africa 1652 Founded by Dutch settlers from Dutch East India Company and is the oldest city in South Africa

The Americas

Name Location Continuously inhabited since Notes
!a !a !a −9e99
~z ~z ~z 9e99
Cholula Mexico -150 ! c. 2nd century BC Pre-Columbian Cholula grew from a small village to a regional center during the 7th century. Oldest still-inhabited city in the Americas.
Upper Xingu Brazil c. 800 AD A network of settlements continuously inhabited since the late 1st millennium AD. A highly urbanized Kuikuro settlement was home to upwards of 10,000 people in the densely forested Upper Xingu. Their numbers declined sharply after contacts with Europeans in the 16th century.
Quito Ecuador 980 Quito's origins date back to 2000 BC, when the Quitu tribe occupied the area.
Acoma Pueblo and Taos Pueblo, New Mexico US c. 1075 Among the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the US (although not "cities")
Cusco Peru c. 1100 The Killke occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 13th century. Carbon-14 dating of Saksaywaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, has demonstrated that the Killke culture constructed the fortress about 1100.[95]
Oraibi, Arizona US c. 1100 Among the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the US (although not a "city")
Mexico City Mexico 1325 Founded as twin cities Tenōchtitlān (1325) and Tlāltelōlco (1337) by the Mexica. Named changed to Ciudad de México (Mexico City) after the Spanish conquest of the city in 1521. Several other pre-Columbian towns such as Azcapotzalco, Tlatelolco, Xochimilco and Coyoacán have been engulfed by the still growing metropolis and are now part of modern Mexico City. Oldest capital city in the Americas.
Santo Domingo Dominican Republic 1496 Oldest European settlement in the New World
Cumaná Venezuela 1501 Oldest European settlement in South America. Alonso de Ojeda was the first to set foot in present day Cumaná in 1498 when he disembarked during Columbus' third voyage in 1498. Spanish Franciscan monks founded Cumaná in 1501 giving Europeans their first settlements in South America (as reported by Washington Irving in his "The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus Vol. III, 1850). Cumaná is the birthplace of Antonio José de Sucre, the Venezuelan Field Marshal that secured the liberation of most of Peru and Ecuador and who later became the first president of Bolivia.
San Juan Puerto Rico (US) 1508 Oldest continuously inhabited city in a US territory
Nombre de Dios, Colón Panama 1510 Oldest European settlement on the mainlands of the Americas
Baracoa Cuba 1511 Oldest European settlement in Cuba
Vera Cruz Mexico 1519 Oldest continuously inhabited European established settlement continental America.
Panama City Panama 1519 Oldest city in the Americas on the Pacific Ocean and oldest European settlement on the Pacific.
Santa Marta Colombia 1525 Oldest still-inhabited city founded by Spaniards in Colombia.
São Vicente, São Paulo Brazil 1532 First Portuguese settlement in South America
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada 1540s Oldest city in Canada, and oldest English-speaking city in the Americas
Santiago del Estero Argentina 1553 Oldest continuously inhabited city in Argentina
St. Augustine, Florida US 1565 Oldest continuously inhabited European-founded city within the United States
Jamestown, Virginia US 1607 First permanent English established settlement in the Americas.
Santa Fe, New Mexico US 1607 Oldest continuously inhabited state or territorial capital in the continental United States.
Quebec City Canada 1608 Second oldest city in Canada and oldest French-speaking city in the Americas.
Albany, New York US 1614 Followed by Jersey City, New Jersey (Communipaw) in 1617 and New York City (as New Amsterdam) in 1624 or 1625. (Note: While there was an abandonment in 1617 or 1618 of the Albany settlement, it was re-established within a few years; also, the Jersey City settlement was a factorij or trading post in the 1610s and didn't become a "homestead" (bouwerij) until the 1630s. Settlements in New Netherlands sometimes moved around in the early years.)
Plymouth, Massachusetts US 1620 Fourth oldest continuously inhabited European-founded city in the United States[96]
Saint John Canada 1631 Third oldest city in Canada
Trois-Rivières Canada 1634 Fourth oldest city in Canada
Montreal Canada 1642 Fifth oldest city in Canada
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan US 1668 Oldest European-founded city in the Midwestern United States and third oldest American city west of the Appalachian Mountains.
San Diego US 1769 Birthplace of California and oldest city on the West Coast of the United States


Sydney Australia 1788 Oldest city in Australia and oldest city in Oceania
Hobart Australia 1803 Second oldest city in Australia
Newcastle Australia 1804 Third oldest city in Australia
Launceston Australia 1806 Fourth oldest city in Australia
Kerikeri New Zealand 1818 ! c. 1818 Oldest European settlement in New Zealand
Albany Australia 1827 Oldest city in the West Coast of Australia

See also


  • Aldred, Cyril (1998). The Egyptians. Thames and Hudson: London.
  • Overy et al. (1999). The Times History of The World: New Edition. Times Books/Harper-Collins: London.
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