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A global city (also called world city or sometimes alpha city) is a city deemed to be an important node point in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely created, facilitated and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade. The most complex of these entities is the "global city," whereby the linkages binding a city have a direct and tangible effect on global affairs through socio-economic means. The terminology of "global city", as opposed to megacity, is thought to have been first coined by Saskia Sassen in reference to London, New York and Tokyo in her 1991 work The Global City, though the term "world city" to describe cities which control a disproportionate amount of global business dates to at least Patrick Geddes' use of the term in 1915.


Global City or world city status is seen as beneficial, and because of this many groups have tried to classify and rank which cities are seen as 'world cities' or 'non-world cities'. Although there is a consensus upon leading world cities, the criteria upon which a classification is made can affect which other cities are included. The criteria for identification tend either to be based on a "yardstick value" ("e.g. if the producer-service sector is the largestsector, then city X is a world city") or on an "imminent determination" ("if the producer-service sector of city X is greater than the producer-service sector of N other cities, then city X is a world city").

Economic characteristics

Political characteristics

  • Active influence on and participation in international events and world affairs; for example, Washingtonmarker, Berlinmarker, Brusselsmarker are major capitals of influential nations or unions.
  • Hosting headquarters for international organizations (World Bank), NATOmarker headquarters
  • A large proper, population of the municipality (the centre of a metropolitan area, typically several million) or agglomeration
  • Diverse demographic constituencies based on various indicators: population, habitat, mobility, and urbanisation
  • Quality of life standards or city development
  • Expatriate communities

Cultural characteristics

Infrastructural characteristics


GaWC studies

Alfa (Alpha) World Cities 2008

One of the first attempts to define, categorize, and rank global cities was made in 1998 by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) based at the geography department of Loughborough Universitymarker, United Kingdommarker. The roster was outlined in the GaWC Research Bulletin 5 and ranked cities based on their provision of "advanced producer services" such as accountancy, advertising, finance, and law. The GaWC inventory identifies three levels of global cities and several sub-ranks. This roster generally denotes cities in which there are offices of certain multinational corporations providing financial and consulting services rather than denoting other cultural, political, and economic centres.

Another attempt to redefine and re-categorise leading global cities was made by GaWC in 2004. This new roster acknowledged several new indicators but still ranked economics ahead of political or cultural importance.

The GaWC in 2008 re-published their roster of leading world cities. This roster, similar to the 1998 version is sorted through categories of "Alpha" world cities (four categories), "Beta" world cities (three categories), "Gamma" world cities (three categories), and cities with "High sufficiency" and "Sufficiency" world cities presence.

The GaWC's latest roster of leading Alpha, Beta and Gamma World Cities is reproduced below; see the source for the complete roster:

Alpha World Cities ++:
*New York Citymarker, Londonmarker

Alpha World Cities +:
*Hong Kongmarker, Parismarker, Singaporemarker, Sydneymarker, Tokyomarker, Shanghai, Beijing

Alpha World Cities:
*Milanmarker, Madridmarker, Seoulmarker, Moscowmarker, Brusselsmarker, Torontomarker, Mumbaimarker, Buenos Airesmarker, Kuala Lumpurmarker

Alpha World Cities :
*Warsawmarker, Jakartamarker, São Paulomarker, Zurich, Mexico Citymarker, Dublinmarker, Amsterdammarker, Bangkokmarker, Taipeimarker, Romemarker, Istanbulmarker, Lisbonmarker, Chicagomarker, Frankfurtmarker, Stockholmmarker, Viennamarker, Budapestmarker, Athensmarker, Praguemarker, Caracasmarker, Aucklandmarker, Santiagomarker

Beta World Cities +:
*Melbournemarker, Barcelonamarker, Los Angelesmarker, Johannesburgmarker, Manilamarker, Bogotamarker, New Delhimarker, Atlantamarker, Washington D.C.marker, Tel Avivmarker, Bucharestmarker, San Franciscomarker, Helsinkimarker, Berlinmarker, Dubaimarker, Oslomarker, Genevamarker, Riyadhmarker, Copenhagenmarker, Hamburgmarker, Cairomarker

Beta World Cities:
*Bangaloremarker, Jeddahmarker, Kuwaitmarker, Luxembourgmarker, Munichmarker, Kievmarker, Dallasmarker, Limamarker, Bostonmarker, Miamimarker

Beta World Cities :
*Sofiamarker, Dusseldorfmarker, Houstonmarker, Beirutmarker, Guangzhoumarker, Nicosiamarker, Karachimarker, Montevideomarker, Rio De Janeiromarker, Nairobimarker, Bratislavamarker, Montrealmarker, Ho Chi Minh Citymarker

Gamma World Cities +:
*Panama Citymarker, Casablancamarker, Chennaimarker, Brisbanemarker, Quitomarker, Stuttgartmarker, Denvermarker, Vancouvermarker, Zagrebmarker, Guatemala Citymarker, Cape Townmarker, San Josemarker, Ljubljanamarker, Minneapolismarker, Santo Domingomarker, Seattlemarker, Manamamarker, Shenzhenmarker

Gamma World Cities:
*Guadalajaramarker, Antwerpmarker, Rotterdammarker, Lagosmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Perthmarker, Ammanmarker, Manchestermarker, Rigamarker, Detroitmarker, Guayaquilmarker, Wellingtonmarker, Portlandmarker

Gamma World Cities :
*Edinburghmarker, Portomarker, Tallinnmarker, San Salvadormarker, St. Petersburgmarker, Port Louismarker, San Diegomarker, Calgarymarker, Almatymarker, Birminghammarker, Islamabadmarker, Dohamarker, Vilniusmarker, Colombomarker

Global Cities Index

In October 2008, the Americanmarker journal Foreign Policy, in conjunction with consulting firm A. T. Kearney and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, published a ranking of global cities, based on consultation with Saskia Sassen, Witold Rybczynski, and others. Foreign Policy noted that "the world’s biggest, most interconnected cities help set global agendas, weather transnational dangers, and serve as the hubs of global integration. They are the engines of growth for their countries and the gateways to the resources of their regions."

The rankings are based on the evaluation of 24 metrics in five areas: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement. The top thirty of the 60 cities ranked were:

Rank City Best category (position in that category)
1 New York Citymarker Business Activity and Human Capital (1st)
2 Londonmarker Cultural Experience (1st)
3 Parismarker Information Exchange (1st)
4 Tokyomarker Business Activity (2nd)
5 Hong Kongmarker Business Activity and Human Capital (5th)
6 Los Angelesmarker Human Capital (4th)
7 Singaporemarker Business Activity (6th)
8 Chicagomarker Human Capital (3rd)
9 Seoulmarker Information Exchange (5th)
10 Torontomarker Cultural Experience (4th)
11 Washington, D.C.marker Political Engagement (1st)
12 Beijing Political Engagement (7th)
13 Brusselsmarker Information Exchange (2nd)
14 Madridmarker Information Exchange (9th)
15 San Franciscomarker Human Capital (12th)
16 Sydneymarker Human Capital (8th)
17 Berlinmarker Cultural Experience (8th)
18 Viennamarker Political Engagement (9th)
19 Moscowmarker Cultural Experience (6th)
20 Shanghai Business Activity (8th)
21 Frankfurtmarker Business Activity (11th)
22 Bangkokmarker Political Engagement (13th)
23 Amsterdammarker Business Activity (10th)
24 Stockholmmarker Information Exchange (13th)
25 Mexico Citymarker Cultural Experience (9th)
26 Zürichmarker Information Exchange (8th)
27 Dubaimarker Information Exchange (14th)
28 Istanbulmarker Political Engagement (8th)
29 Bostonmarker Human Capital (9th)
30 Romemarker Cultural Experience (15th)

Global Power City Index

The Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyomarker, Japanmarker issued a comprehensive study of global cities in October 2009. The ranking is based on six overall categories, "Economy," "Research & Development," "Cultural Interaction," "Livability," "Ecology & Natural Environment," and "Accessibility," with 69 individual indicators among them. This Japanese ranking also breaks down top ten world cities ranked in subjective categories such as "manager, researcher, artist, visitor and resident."

Rank City Score Best category (position)
1 New York Citymarker 330.4 Economy (1.) Research & Development (1.)
2 Londonmarker 322.3 Cultural Interaction (1.)
3 Parismarker 317.8 Livability (1.) Accessibility (1.)
4 Tokyomarker 305.6 Economy (2.) Research & Development (2.)
5 Singaporemarker 274.4 Economy (5.) Cultural Interaction (5.)
6 Berlinmarker 259.3 Livability (2.)
7 Viennamarker 255.1 Ecology & Natural Environment (3.)
8 Amsterdammarker 250.5 Accessibility (3.)
9 Zürichmarker 242.5 Ecology & Natural Environment (2.)
10 Hong Kongmarker 242.5 Economy (4.)
11 Madridmarker 242.5 Ecology & Natural Environment (7.) Accessibility (7.)
12 Seoulmarker 242.1 Research & Development (4.)
13 Los Angelesmarker 240.0 Research & Development (5.)
14 Sydneymarker 237.3 Ecology & Natural Environment (9.)
15 Torontomarker 234.6 Livability (5.)
16 Frankfurtmarker 232.9 Accessibility (5.)
17 Copenhagenmarker 231.7 Economy (9.) Livability (9.)
18 Brusselsmarker 229.9 Livability (8.)
19 Genevamarker 229.7 Ecology & Natural Environment (1.)
20 Bostonmarker 226.2 Research & Development(6.)

Following positions and scores:

21. Shanghai (224.1), 22. Chicagomarker (221.1), 23. Vancouvermarker (219.1), 24. San Franciscomarker (218.1), 25. Osaka (215.1), 26. Beijing (211.4), 27. Kuala Lumpurmarker (204.1), 28. Milanmarker (203.5), 29. Bangkokmarker (199.1), 30. Fukuoka (196.5), 31. Taipeimarker (195.9), 32. Moscowmarker (179.5), 33. Sao Paulomarker (177.7), 34. Mumbaimarker (165.5), 35. Cairomarker (132.2)


Rank Population of city Population of metropolitan area Percentage foreign born Expatriate cost of living Metro systems by annual passenger ridership Metro systems by the route length Annual airport traffic by passenger Number of billionaires Gross Metropolitan Product at total PPPs
1 Mumbaimarker Tokyomarker Dubaimarker Tokyomarker Tokyomarker Londonmarker Londonmarker New York Citymarker Tokyomarker
2 Shanghai Seoulmarker Miamimarker Osaka Moscowmarker New York Citymarker New York Citymarker Londonmarker New York Citymarker
3 Karachimarker Mexico Citymarker Amsterdammarker Moscowmarker New York Citymarker Berlinmarker Tokyomarker Moscowmarker Los Angelesmarker
4 Delhimarker New York Citymarker Torontomarker Genevamarker Seoulmarker Madridmarker Atlantamarker Hong Kongmarker Chicagomarker
5 Istanbulmarker Mumbaimarker Muscatmarker Hong Kongmarker Mexico Citymarker Moscowmarker Chicagomarker Los Angelesmarker Parismarker
6 São Paulomarker Jakartamarker Vancouvermarker Zürichmarker Parismarker Seoulmarker Parismarker Dallasmarker Londonmarker
7 Moscowmarker Sao Paolomarker Aucklandmarker Copenhagenmarker Hong Kongmarker Shanghai Los Angelesmarker Istanbulmarker Osaka
8 Seoulmarker Delhimarker Genevamarker New York Citymarker Londonmarker Parismarker Dallasmarker San Franciscomarker Mexico Citymarker
9 Beijing Osaka Meccamarker Beijing Osaka Beijing Frankfurtmarker Chicagomarker,
São Paulomarker,

10 Mexico Citymarker Shanghai The Haguemarker Singaporemarker São Paulomarker Tokyomarker Beijing n/a Washington, D.C.marker

See also


External links

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