My friend and I have had a little discussion going.

He says London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world.

I doubt this, and say it’s a bold claim.

Can you add any sort of perspective to this - we’d be very grateful.

Define ‘cosmopolitan’.

It certainly would be a contender for a lot of the “most x city in the world” kind of questions

but as jimm says what do you mean by ‘cosmopolitan’

Main Entry: 2cosmopolitan
Function: adjective
1 : having worldwide rather than limited or provincial scope or bearing
2 : having wide international sophistication : WORLDLY
3 : composed of persons, constituents, or elements from all or many parts of the world
Using this def. I’d say that IME London is No. 1 but I haven’t been to NY, LA, Sydney and many more so YMMV

It would certainly top my, admittedly incomplete, list. Only having been to New York, Honolulu & San Francisco in the US but most of the major cities in Europe & Asia, my top 3, as far as I understand the term “cosmopolitan” would be:

  1. London
  2. Sydney
  3. Paris

well, there’s the rub. He has been on the Mayor of London website, I believe, and there are apparently some three hundred languages spoken in London. I think he takes cosmopolitan to mean the second.

I would have thought there was more to it than that, and it’s not enough to have people from everywhere. London makes little or no effort to actually accomodate, for instance, other languages.

cos·mo·pol·i·tan ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kzm-pl-tn)

Pertinent or common to the whole world: an issue of cosmopolitan import.

Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world: the ancient and cosmopolitan societies of Syria and Egypt.

So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest: a cosmopolitan traveler.

Ecology. Growing or occurring in many parts of the world; widely distributed.

Although I confess to feeling a little guilty that he’s not here to defend himself, does anyone else think London isn’t all that welcoming, even?

No, it’s not terribly welcoming. People on the whole aren’t that friendly. But my God, it is huge. And it is very, very multicultural (round the corner from my brother’s place is a sari shop next to a halal butchers, next to a kosher deli).

Can’t give you stats, but I can give you an anecdote (not data I know I know). The last time I visited my bro, he and I went to a pub at Alexandra palace. We were having a pint and I was looking round the pub. There must have been about 40 or 50 tables. And we were the only all-white table in the entire pub. Some of the others were monoethnic, but most of them were mixed race - African ladies wearing traditional headdresses sitting with Chinese people; Hindu women in saris sitting with dreadlocked Jamaicans. it was a massive eye-opener for me, in a very positive way.

However, that’s not data, and nor is it likely to be unique. I’m sure there are many other cities that also boast such diversity.

Surely the fact that so many languages are spoken in the city is a sign of its cosmopolitanality (probably not a word). Whether they are officially encouraged or discouraged is irrelevant.

Missed this. It depends what you mean by “effort”. I believe all council, NHS and DHSS documentation has to be printed in all of these languages. However, with so many being spoken, it would be impractical to have signs in multiple languages. The only example I can think is in Chinatown, where the streetsigns are in Chinese characters as well as English. How would you suggest the city should ‘accomodate’ them all?

As long as this thread is in IMHO, obviously you are willing to admit the subject is (ahem) subjective. From personal experience I would say that while London is amongst the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, it certainly is not #1. In fact, I wouldn’t call any city “#1” in this arena, because there are so many variables involved. How, exactly, can you tell London is “more cosmopolitan” than Paris? New York City? Even Washington, DC?

On the other hand, if someone could come up with some measurable metrics, then we might be able to declare a winner! :cool: I would think you would need a lot more items than simply “number of languages spoken”. And even then, I notice no one is pointing to any scientific study of number of languages spoken with figures for all of the major cities in the world for comparison.

This is exactly my point. I personally don’t think London is that great, but then I can see the blanket of green smegma lying over it from my window.

I think it is an exaggeration to say it is the most cosmopolitan city in the world.

This does not mean I want to do an exhaustive study of ‘more cosmopolitan’ cities. I you think London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, mention why.

(small rant: I’ve noticed on this board that people are always trying to make me do more legwork than I can be bothered to do. This is not a criticsim of anyone in particular, besides my lazy self, but when someone says “I’m right. Prove I’m not.” It’s not as constructive as I’d like.)

Thanks, I feel better.

I was sort of looking for more than ‘lots of people live in it, many languages are spoken there’, because by that rationale, a refugee camp is very cosmopolitan. If you love London and think it is very cosmopolitan, tell me why.

I’ll jump in here with my own anecdotes …

Although I loved London I found it a bit less than accommodating to ‘foreigners.’

Food-wise, I couldn’t find any good Mexican, Thai, or Chinese food - and yes, I went to Chinatown. The best was the Buddhist buffet but I don’t think it was really properly Buddhist.

I boastfully submit that Toronto is the most ‘multicultural’: our mayor boasted to the G8 Summit of Cities that

Either of our Chinatowns kick the ass of the one in London (to be fair, they probably don’t compare to San Fransisco’s) in size and in diversity of stores/restaurants. Plus we have a thriving ‘Little’ Italy, India, Portugual, Korea, Jamaica, and Greece (off the top of my head). Plus we’ve got Caribana, “North America’s largest street festival,” which brings lots of people up from the Islands every summer.


There’s a great Thai place called ‘Thai Square’ on Upper street. And a fabulous chinese place in Highgate called ‘dim t’. Next time try those…

I’ll second cowgirl.

I was a student in England a few years ago, and spent pretty much every free weekend in London. And I did find it a little bit intimidating. It wasn’t anything quantitative like size or population (I grew up in Bombay and am used to that)… in stark contrast, Munich (where I spent pretty much ever free weekend once i started working) felt like home.

Sorry for being so vague…

These examples could easily be NYC. Very easily.

I’m going to London tomorrow! Small things excite me.
That is all.

To me, London is a very exciting, vibrant place. There is always something new to experience when I go there, which is almost every year. I enjoyed celebrating the year 2000 there, & I also spent this past xmas there. The Modern Tate Museum has a fascinating “weather project.” See The Unilever Series: Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project – Exhibition at Tate Modern | Tate

I find the people friendly and helpful. But then I think that how people react to you is often based on how you approach them. London is HUGE! I’m usually not into defining “the most anything,” so I will say that London is very cosmo. But so are Paris and NYC and others.

BTW: I like J.D. Wetherspoon’s pubs! Cheers! :cool:

I don’t think it is really possible to quantify the “most cosmopoliton” city in the world, but the candidates list would not be too long;

IME - London, NY, LA, Sydney, Paris in no particular order

Also IME - Toronto, Amsterdam and San Francisco are not too far behind

“Bangla-town” (round Brick Lane) has the street names in er, whatever Bangladeshis speak (Bengali?) as well as English.

Not surprised that you couldn’t find good Mexican or Chinese food - not a big Mexican population in London and for some reason I don’t understand Chinese food has never been good in Britain. I am surprised about Thai tho’ - I’ve had lots of good Thai meals in London. what I like is how sometimes there are “greasy spoon” caffs doing the standard “something+chips+beans” but also having a Thai menu - cheap and very good if you’re lucky.

The “cosmopolitan” nature of London is one of the few things I miss about it.

For Thai it’s gotta be the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street, IMHO. Ridiculously cheap considering how good the food is.

Sure, London has its problems, but I’ve been living here since mid-'96, so evidently it suits me. I suppose the inevitable comparison for East Coast Americans like myself will be with New York, where I also have lived, though for nowhere near as long. I may be missing something obvious here, but I find London to be lacking New York’s mind-blowing self-absorption.