London : a global city

A global city is one which goes beyond the boundaries of its national territory thanks to its role in the global economy.

The major global centres of the world are New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Hong-Kong and Chicago. They are accessible cities which are hubs around which the people, capital, information and products of world trade revolve. The term “global city” was first used in 1991 by a sociologist called Saskia Sassen.

The factors which make London a global city

Economic activity :

  • General : number of firms, volume of transactions
  • London : 33% of the top international companies are their European Headquarters in London

Financial activity :

  • banking and financial services
  • the City is the world’s leading financial centre and the London Stock Exchange is the one of the three most important of the world

Transport infrastructure :

  • airports, underground railway, motorways, trains
  • 405 kms of underground railway, 6.4 million people taking the bus everyday, Eurostar linked to Paris

“Human Capital” :

  • Number of inhabitants, number of international migrants, quality of universities and research centres
  •  8.5 million inhabitants, “melting pot” of cultures, high-reputation of British universities

Culture :

  •  Number of sporting activities, cultural events, international exhibitions
  • Olympic Games (2012), 14 million visitors per year to see its museums, galleries and other attractions

Information and communications:

  • Press agencies, television networks, internet speed
  • The BBC and other television broadcasters are world famous for the quality of their output, and the British press based in London has enormous power

Political factors :

  • Number of ambassadors, consulates, international conferences etc…
  • Home of the British Parliament, big player in political affairs

The challenges faced by Global Cities

  • The wealth is not shared like it has to be : it causes social tensions.
  • The immigration has not produced a really multicultural society but a collection of different racial groups in certain areas. It also caused shortages and difficulties (education, health)
  • The crisis was disastrous for the banking organisations based in London, Britain has been badly hit, and Hong Kong is threatening London’s leading position.
  • Heathrow is too much little to welcome a huge amount of passengers.
  • London is so famous that it is a target for terrorist organisations.

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