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world city, or a world-class city, is a city with a set of somewhat subjective traits which often include the following:
International familiarity (e.g., one would say Paris, not Paris, France).
Active influence and participation in international events and world affairs.
A fairly large population (the center of a metropolitan area with population of at least one million, typically several million).
A major international airport that serves as a established hub for several international airlines.
An advanced transportation system that includes several freeways and/or a large mass transit network offering multiple modes of transportation (subway, light rail, ferry, bus).
In the West, several international cultures and communities (such as a Chinatown, a Little Italy, or other immigrant communities).
International financial institutions, corporations (especially conglomerates), and stock exchanges that have influence over the world economy.
A variety of world-renowned cultural institutions and venues such as film festivals and premieres, a lively musical scene, theatrical plays, art galleries and museums.
A unique cultural air and sophistication produced by its inhabitants.
High proportion of "non-chain" retailers and eateries, upscale boutiques and hotels, and trendy nightlife.
Spectacular natural background and landmarks.
Several powerful and influential media outlets with an international reach are based in the world cities, such as the BBC, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Times, and Pravda. Many of these cities are renowned tourist attractions.
Some sources feel another requirement is to have hosted the Summer Olympics; however, this requirement would exclude New York, Madrid and other prominent cities that never hosted an Olympics.
In the Western World, New York, London, and Paris have been traditionally considered the "big three" world cities - not incidentally, they also serve as symbols of the global capitalism that won a definitive triumph at the end of the Cold War. However, most people have a personal subjective list, and any two lists are very likely to differ based on cultural background, values, and experience. Many inhabitants of the Pacific Rim would add Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo to this list. A devout Muslim, for example, might feel that Mecca is a world city, an Arab that Cairo is one, an Australian that both Sydney and Melbourne are, all while rejecting the others' claims out of unfamiliarity or differing values.
In order to boost urban regeneration, tourism, and revenue especially in the wake of the massive decline of manufacturing-based economies and of decades of urban decay, the goal of building a world-class city has recently become an obsession with the governments and populaces of mid-size cities in the United States, such as Louisville, Columbus, Indianapolis, etc. Most of these would not be recognised outside the U.S. as "world cities" (even within the U.S., many of these efforts are seen as dubious). This phenomenon has also been observed in many other cities such as Sydney, Australia and Toronto, Ontario, Canada which have recently emerged as large and powerful cities in mid sized countries