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World cities

World cities

A-Level mega9-5d880d144c


The global pattern: millionaire cities, mega cities (meta city) and world cities.
Economic development and change related to urbanisation.

What you need to know:


Millionaire cities – Cities with more than 1 million inhabitants.

Millionaire cities 1956

Millionaire cities 1956


Mega-cities have more than 10 million inhabitants. In 2010 there were 12 cities within this category, they are:

1 Shanghai(China) – 14608512
2 Buenos Aires (Argentina)- 13076300
3 Mumbai(India) – 12691836
4 Karachi(Pakistan) – 11624219
5 Mexico City(Mexico) – 11285654
6 Istanbul(Turkey) – 11174257
7 Delhi(India) – 10927986
8 Manila(Philippines) – 10444527
9 Moscow(Russia) – 10381222
10 Dhaka(Bangladesh) – 10356500
11 Seoul(South Korea) – 10349312
12 Sao Paulo(Brazil) – 10021295

a-level maga city mc_karte

The Guardian – Rise of the mega-city

Many of the mega-cities are in countries that have had recent rapid development.

A-Level megamegacitymap

World cities

A-Level mega 3-a09d6ff4c8

Those cities that have a big influence on the world because of their wealth and commercial strength. They are a centre for finance, trade, politics and culture. It is agreed amongst most workers in this field that London, New York and Tokyo are the three most pre-eminent cities.

Since there are a variety of ways to define a world city, there is debate about which other cities to include.

World cities rend to have common characteristics. These include:
Economic characteristics:
– Corporate headquarters for Transnational Corporations (TNCs), international financial institutions and law firms. They have a stock exchange that has global influence.
– Financial service provision e.g., banks, insurance and accountancy firms
– Some significantly wealthy inhabitants e.g., number of billionaires. E.g. In 2008 New York was the home to 71 billionaires and London 36.

a-level mega cfiles19434

Political characteristics
– They have an active influence on and participation in international events and world affairs; for e.g. New York is the Host to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
– A large population: e.g. Tokyo 12.75 million, New York 8.4 million and London 7.8 million.
– Diverse population (race, religion, education standards etc)
– Expatriate communities e.g. it is estimated that 400, 000 expatriate French people live in London in 2011

Cultural characteristics
– Renowned cultural institutions, such as museums and art galleries; notable opera companies and orchestras; well known theatres
– Several influential media outlets with an international reach, such as the BBC and Reuters in London or The New York Times
– A strong sporting community, including major sports facilities, home teams in premier league sports, and the ability and experience to host international sporting events such as the Olympic Games (London 2012), FIFA World Cup (Paris 1998), or Grand Slam tennis (US Open, Flushing, New York) etc.
– Educational institutions; e.g., universities (e.g. The Sorbonne, Paris, The London School of Economics) with international student attendance.
– Cities containing World Heritage Sites of historical and cultural significance (e.g. The Banks of the Seine, Paris, Tower of London)
– A strong tourism industry

The Banks of the Seine

The Banks of the Seine

Infrastructure characteristics
– An advanced transportation system that includes a large mass transit network offering multiple modes of transportation, e.g. the London Underground, the Paris Metro and the Tokyo Subway.
– A major international airport that serves as an established hub for several international airlines, e.g. Heathrow, London and Kennedy Airport New York.
– An advanced communications infrastructure on which modern TNCs rely, such as fibre-optics, Wi-Fi networks, cellular phone services, and other high-speed lines of communications.
– Health facilities; e.g., hospitals, medical laboratories
– Prominent skylines/skyscrapers e.g. the Canary Wharf Towers, London

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf

Economic development and change related to urbanisation.

The level of urbanisation can be regarded as a measure of economic development. When per capita income increases, so does the level of urbanisation. Economic growth leads to a shift in demand, and therefore, a re-allocation of resources (land, labour and capital) out of agriculture and into manufacturing and services. These two groups of economic activity benefit from being agglomerated (located together in groups) and so lead to development ‘poles’ that attract migrants.


1. Describe the distribution of the richest 25 cities in 2007 and comment on the changes to this distribution that are predicted to take place by 2025. (7 marks)

2. Outline the main characteristics of a city characterised as a ‘world’ city. Using one example explain why that city is considered globally important. (8 marks)


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