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WORLD CITIES- The Global Pattern
Background: Almost 50% of the world's population lives in towns and cities due to rapid
urbanisation that has taken place over the past 50 years. 40% of Asia's population live in
urban areas. Due to rapid economic development in Asia, South America and parts of Africa,
the level of urbanisation is likely to increase rapidly over the next few years, however in
Europe and North America, rates of urbanisation peaked in the 1970s and has declined since.
For example, in 1960, the world's three largest cities were New York, London and Tokyo
(MEDC nations), whereas today, the three largest are Tokyo, Seoul and Mexico City
(predominantly LEDC nations).
The global pattern:
o Millionaire Cities
Cities with more than 1 million people.
Examples are Birmingham and Paris.
o Mega Cities
Cities with more than 10 million people, 15 out of 20 are in the developing
Examples are Sao Paulo, Mumbai and Mexico City.
o World Cities
World cities have global influence and importance because of their financial
status and commercial power. They are home to TNCs, provide international
consumer services and are centres of world finance. 100 cities across the
globe generate 30% of the world's GDP
Examples include London, New York and Tokyo.
As hubs, world cities have seven key characteristics (London as named
1. Political hubs: Power on a global scale and hold a seat of
government: Westminster Houses of Parliament.
2. Transport hubs: International airports, excellent infrastructure,
road/rail links and fibre optic and wifi connections. E.g. Heathrow
airport is the largest in the world, M25, HS1, Crossrail, Underground
3. Business hubs: Many expatriate communities live there, have
global TNC headquarters. E.g. BBC, Ernst and Young, Reuters.
4. Finance hubs: International law and banking headquarters, have a
stock exchange, influential on the economy and attract the best
financiers. E.g. Canary Wharf (Citi, Barclays...), London generates 22%
of the country's economic output.
5. Academic hubs: contain world-renowned universities and
educational institutes, attracting many international students. Eg.
University College London (UCL)
6. Media hubs: Have world renowned galleries/museums and host
arts festivals. E.g. The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum.
The BBC also has London headquarters.