The 21 most influential cities in the world

The Hong Kong skyline.

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The Hong Kong skyline.
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Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost / Getty
  • New York City and London are the top two most influential cities in the world, according to management consultancy firm A. T. Kearny’s annual Global Cities Index Results.
  • The 21 cities below were ranked based off of areas including business activity, culture, human capital, political engagement, and information exchange.
  • The scores from each category were added together to create the ranking.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Not all major cities are created equal, with some places around the world holding more influence over global business, culture, and politics than others. But what are the world’s most influential cities?

That’s a question that management consultancy firm A.T. Kearney tries to answer with its annual Global Cities Report. The report looks at which global cities “are improving in their competitiveness and what factors are driving that success.”

It examines dozens of variables, which are then subdivided into categories: business activity, culture, human capital, political engagement, and information exchange. Scores in these categories are then added together to create a ranking.

New York and London top the list, with both cities miles ahead of their nearest rivals. The top 21 are spread around the world, though Europe dominates the list. Notably, the top five cities on the list have maintained their exact rankings from 2018.

Check out the world’s most influential cities below.


21. Boston, Massachusetts

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

According to the 2019 Global Cities Index, Boston improved in both economics and innovation since last year. The New England city rose three spots in the rankings.


20. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Photo by Daniil Vnoutchkov on Unsplash

The Dutch economy was anticipated to grow 2.6% over the course of 2019; Amsterdam moved up two spots in the rankings since 2018.


19. Shanghai, China

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REUTERS/Aly Song

Home to the Chinese mainland’s main financial center, Shanghai is also the world’s busiest container port, making it a global hub for all kinds of trade.


18. Moscow, Russia

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MarinaDa / Shutterstock

This capital sits in the largest country in the world. It continues to increase its global footprint and has the world’s most university-sponsored incubators, according to the 2019 Global Cities Index.


17. Toronto, Canada

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Inga Locmele/Shutterstock

It may not be as well known as its American neighbors, but Toronto is a globally important city and has North America’s third-largest stock exchange by market capitalization.


16. Melbourne, Australia

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Zephyr_p/Shutterstock

Melbourne was ranked as the top place for international students by the 2019 Global Cities Index and continues to lead in environmental performance.


15. Madrid, Spain

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Shutterstock/LucVi

A major hub for commerce in the Spanish-speaking world, Madrid is Spain’s second-largest industrial center. The city scored highly in the business-activity category in the 2019 Global Cities Index.


14. Berlin, Germany

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VanderWolf Images/Shutterstock

Berlin still proves to be one of the most influential cities in the world and houses one of the oldest stock exchanges in Germany.


13. Seoul, South Korea

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Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea’s capital continues to hold global importance. It is a major commerce hub and home to major brands, including Samsung.


12. Brussels, Belgium

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Greg Sandoval/Business Insider

Politics and bureaucracy dominate the agenda in Belgium’s capital, the home of the European Union. Relatively small compared to many major cities, it punches well above its weight thanks to the EU.


11. Sydney, Australia

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PomInOz / Shutterstock

According to the rankings, Sydney is the most important city in the southern hemisphere. It is also considered one of the most livable cities in the world.


10. Washington, D.C.

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Jason Reed/Reuters

Washington, D.C. is home to the United States’ most important political institutions. In addition to American institutions like the White House and the Capitol, the city hosts international institutions including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


9. Beijing, China

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Raj Eiamworakul / Unsplash

The capital and political hub of the world’s second-largest economy is understandably influential. It is also home to more companies in the Global Fortune 500 than any other city.


8. Chicago, Illinois

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Trading defines Chicago’s importance as a major international city, with two of the biggest commodity exchanges based there. Agricultural products like wheat, corn, and pork are among the products that are traded on the city’s mercantile exchanges.


7. Los Angeles, California

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Home to Hollywood, Los Angeles means showbiz, with movie studios, TV stations, and more. Its West Coast location also makes it a key hub for trade with Asia.


6. Singapore

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Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Singapore’s container port is one of the world’s largest. It is also a major hub for the oil industry.


5. Hong Kong

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Apple

Formerly controlled by Britain, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997. It is one of Asia’s biggest financial centers.


4. Tokyo, Japan

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Rachel Premack/Business Insider

In 2018, Bloomberg ranked Japan’s sprawling capital the largest city in the world with 37 million people in its metropolitan area.


3. Paris, France

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Shutterstock

France’s capital is known for its art, architecture, and fashion. According to the 2019 Global Cities Index, it has the most think tanks in the world.


2. London, UK

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Gic/Pixabay

Brexit is likely to marginally diminish London’s role as a global center, but for now, it remains the world’s second-most-influential city. Home to Europe’s financial hub in the city, London is tops the rankings when it comes to transparency. Its ranking remains unchanged from 2018.


1. New York City, New York

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Shutterstock

It’s no surprise that New York City, home of Wall Street and the United Nations, is viewed as the world’s most important city. The city has maintained its top spot for the second year in a row.