Add this to the list of user complaints about SimCity: The game pads out the population figure
to make your city seem bigger than it is. For the first 500 sims, everything runs as expected, but after that point the game starts multiplying the population figures non-linearly. At 1,500 sims, the game claims your population is roughly 5,000, and at 15,000 sims the game claims your population is 100,000. The extra 85,000 "phantom sims" play no role in the simulation, they're completely fake. They don't have homes, they don't go to work, they don't pay taxes. They presumably exist to try and hide how small the cities in the game really are.
I can understand why Maxis did that, simulating hundreds of thousands of individual sims would probably have killed most computers. But having the game cover up how small the cities are by lying about your population seems really dishonest.