New study of 60 great cities declares London the capital of the world

Move over Paris, New York, Rome, Tokyo and Berlin.

A new study of 60 of the world's great cities has declared London the greatest city on Earth - an economic and cultural powerhouse.

London also recently overtook New York as the world's financial capital for the first time since the days of Empire.

In 2012, London will host the Summer Olympics for a third time - and will then have hosted them more times than any other city on Earth.

It also has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any city on Earth.

London was the world's largest city until the 1930s, but even though it isn't anymore it has shown that it's still the greatest.

New York was found to be the second greatest city on Earth with Paris third (10 points behind London), Rome 9th, and Beirut, unsurprisingly, came bottom...

London, capital of the world

A new study has found that the British capital outstrips 60 global rivals as an economic and cultural powerhouse

By Simon Calder
22 December 2007
The Independent

London, capital of the world, an economic and cultural powerhouse

London has topped the most exhaustive comparison ever compiled of the world's great cities in a finding that sees Britain's capital outstrip global rivals as a centre of economic performance and cultural significance.

Following months of research of population figures, financial markets, tourism trends, transport facilities and data relating to sports and arts events and transport, the study comes to a dramatic conclusion: London is the world's capital city.

The survey was carried out by The Independent and, for the first time, allows a direct comparison of global cities.

Around the world, civic competition is reaching new heights as cities strive to provide the finest creative, culinary and tourist experiences. This is creating powerhouses such as Delhi and Beijing.

St Paul's Cathedral, rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666, and the Thames in central London

Closer to home, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Glasgow are proving themselves to be dynamic Celtic conurbations. Yet it is London that rises above all other cities.

The measurable and objective data, which can all be found on The Independent's website at (external - login to view), throws up some remarkable findings and reveals which urban rivals come out on top, which cities look set to climb rapidly up the rankings and which metropolises are seeing their grandeur and magnificence surpassed.

With one of the world's most ebullient stock exchanges, a bustling and economically attractive City, the highest number of Unesco World Heritage Sites in any city, and a truly international restaurant scene that typifies its cultural make-up with more ethnic restaurants than any other metropolis, London scores highly across the board.
Paris came third, winning the title of Continental Europe's capital thanks to its financial clout and busy international airports.

London achieved particularly strong ratings for its much-maligned underground Tube network (the world's first), its cultural credentials and for hosting the Olympic Games twice in a century (1908 and 1948 ).

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said the research showed London's strength lay in its multicultural makeup: "London is establishing itself as the world's number one financial centre and greatest city in the world. Londoners are proud of our 'unity in diversity' and regard the multiculturalism of our city as one of its greatest strengths. With over 300 languages spoken here, London is literally the most international city in the world. Its financial sector, its creative industries and its tourism industry all rely, in different ways, on their relations with the rest of the world and, with the achievements of winning the Olympic Games and hosting major sporting events like the Tour de France, we have proved the success of becoming the city that embraces globalisation."

Laurent Feniou, 36, a banker who moved with his family to England in 1995 and has since set up the annual "Francais of the Year" to honour members of London's 300,000-strong French expat community, was not surprised that London had been voted ahead of Paris.

"You never really feel like a foreigner in central London," he said. "Whether it's food, clothes or people, the diversity is just amazing. I think it's a very safe city – I drive to work with my scooter, something I would never do in Paris. "

At the bottom of the table come Addis Ababa and Beirut. But there are surprises too.

Among them is Mexico City at tenth place. At first glance Mexico's sprawling megacity might look like an unlikely contender. But with three Unesco World Heritage sites, an extensive underground rail network to rival most Western cities and one of the busiest airports in the region, Mexico's capital scores high enough in cultural and international significance to warrant being the city with the highest rank in the developing world.

Other cities that make the top 10 are those urban sprawls that regularly appear on the all-time desirable destinations lists. New York is narrowly pipped to the post by London by just two points, but the Big Apple does beat all its competitors in terms of flights, market capitalisation of its stock exchanges and as the location for the highest number of headquarters for global corporations. Paris, which lags a full 10 points behind London, is three places above Madrid (6th) and six ahead of Rome (9th). Despite being regarded as one of the cuisine capitals of the world, however, where the French capital fell down in particular was on diversity, boasting just 10 ethnic restaurants in the Paris Time Out City Guide.

Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco all made it into the top 15. Other cities to perform well in the survey included Tokyo, but Asian centres such as Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are closing in. Delhi and Mumbai both came in way ahead of Russia's former capital St Petersburg, the laidback bliss of Melbourne and even the balmy Mediterranean delights of Israel's capital Tel Aviv. Dublin came in at 30, four places ahead of Edinburgh, while Glasgow was at 42.

As The Independent's award-winning economics expert Hamish McRae writes in today's Traveller Magazine, by measuring such a broad spectrum of criteria the survey shines an enlightening spotlight on to what is actually happening in this increasingly globalised world: "We now live in a more global economy than at any previous stage in the history of our species. So what The Independent Traveller has created here is not so much a league table as, by looking at cities, an exploration of globalisation itself."


Leading article: A capital accolade that does huge credit to the whole of Britain
Published: 22 December 2007

The Independent

The Independent today announces the first winner of its annual world city of the year competition. It will be a disappointment to several natural contenders. The Big Apple has fallen. The City of Light has been dimmed. The sun has gone down on Tokyo. The city that rises above all others is our very own capital: London.

London's claim to be considered the world's pre-eminent financial centre is straightforward. The capital has made the most of its historic position as a commercial hub and its advantageous geographical location for global finance. More money flows through New York, but Russian, Chinese and Indian cash is more likely to be looking for a home in London now. Companies are increasingly raising money in the capital too, put off by strict corporate governance rules imposed in the US in the wake of the Enron scandal.

Of course, anyone who lives in London will know that, despite its financial success, the city's streets are not paved with gold. There are many things wrong with the capital, from a grossly inflated housing market to urban deprivation and an overstretched transport system. It is a hugely expensive place to live (although not for the global super-rich who are increasingly basing themselves in its most desirable neighbourhoods). But most Londoners also know that the city offers a fantastic quality of life in other significant ways.

The capital is a culinary paradise. There are more Michelin-starred restaurants than ever before. And you can eat your way around the world in London for reasonable prices, from Bangladeshi Brick Lane, Middle Eastern Edgware Road to Soho's Chinatown. Other world cities – indeed other cities in the UK, such as Manchester and Liverpool – have their ethnic quarters too, but few can match the sheer number of London's.

Like so many British cities, the capital is culturally blessed too. Tourists have always flocked to the neo-Gothic grandeur of the Houses of Parliament and the Renaissance elegance of the Banqueting House. But they also find impressive modern architecture, in buildings such as Norman Foster's "gherkin", nestling alongside the architectural legacy of previous ages.

The theatrical delights of the West End are well known. But London has also become a huge centre for contemporary arts in recent years, thanks to Tate Modern and the Frieze Art Fair. The Government's lifting of museum entry charges has given the capital's arts scene a shot in the arm. Local politics has been helpful too. Ken Livingstone's pedestrianisation and congestion charging programme have both facilitated London's cultural growth by freeing up the capital's public spaces.

Another driver of London's success has been its openness, not just to foreign money, but talent too. Many of those in positions of power and influence in the capital are not necessarily British. Public officials, company directors, even football managers are imported from abroad. This does not guarantee success, of course, but this willingness to hire without prejudice has served the capital well. Happily, this openness has extended throughout the city's economy. One in three Londoners was born abroad. Some 300 languages are spoken in London. It is a city of stunning diversity, a truly cosmopolitan capital.

Some have argued that London is no longer truly part of Britain, that it has become a cultural and financial island, adrift from the rest of the UK. On the contrary, we would argue that with its openness, its enterprise, its rich culture, and it grand architectural heritage, London, on a good day, represents all that is best about Britain. Long may its reign as the world's capital city continue.
Last edited by Blackleaf; Dec 30th, 2007 at 01:47 PM..
Ha! Campbell River tops them all!
Kreskin, "Ha! Campbell River tops them all!"

Unlike Kreskin, I have not actually seen the survey results. Where on the survey is Arnprior? Was Arnprior not considered? London sounded pretty good, until it ranked below Hay River.
Nowhere on that list is Kamsack Saskatchewan. The study is a farce.
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