Culture is a tricky thing to pin down, especially when there are countless cities around the globe that are known for their vibrant cultures. But, the Mayor of London has taken a stab at it with the World Cities Culture Report 2012.
According to the report's website, "it is a celebration of the importance of culture in the public and political life of world cities." It measures this culture using 60 indicators, like number of national museums, number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, number of comedy clubs, number of markets, and number of rare and secondhand bookshops, that assess "the supply of and demand for culture."
So, how do the cities compare? Check out the list in the slideshow below, and click through to the World Cities Culture Report's website for more in-depth profiles.
To explore some more cultural subsets, check out: the 10 best cities for art lovers, the nine best cities for street art spotting, the world's best cities for street food and the 20 most Michelin-starred cities.
"Istanbul is both an ancient and modern city. Its first Neolithic settlements date from 8,500 years ago. The Greeks founded Byzantium there in 700 BC, before it became, as Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire, and then the capital of the Ottoman Empire for almost five centuries. Now, although Istanbul is no longer a capital, it is the largest city of a fast-growing nation-state. Its location on the Bosporus makes it a bridge between Europe and Asia." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/istanbul" target="_hplink">Read more about Istanbul</a>.
"Johannesburg-Gauteng 1 is uniquely positioned as a city-region that straddles the developed and developing world, and serves as a creative, cultural and commercial gateway to the rest of the continent. It is a driver and hub for cultural and creative production, generating new cultural forms, new modes of production and consumption, and new organisational and business models." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/johannesburg-gauteng" target="_hplink">Read more about Johannesburg-Gauteng</a>.
"London is a city that combines a sense of history with cutting-edge creativity and a dynamic pop culture. As one of the most cosmopolitan and tolerant capitals in the world today, it attracts a genuine diversity of people - from radical activists to business leaders, intellectuals to fashionistas." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/london" target="_hplink">Read more about London</a>.
"Mumbai's journey to becoming one of the world's great cities began under colonial rule. After more than a century under the Portuguese, the islands on which the city stood were transferred to the British in 1668, and then leased to the British East India Company, who moved their headquarters there some 20 years later. The city's status as a commercial hub was thus established early, and underpinned its subsequent development. Its port became one of the most important in the region, and traders from across the sub-continent were drawn to live and work there. The city continued to expand after Indian independence and is the largest in the country. It was renamed Mumbai in 1996." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/mumbai" target="_hplink">Read more about Mumbai</a>.
New York City
"New York has long tied its rising power and economic success to investments in arts and culture. In its early nineteenth century aspirations to rival Boston, and later the great cities of Europe, New York's cultural life has been seen as a symbol of the city's wider vitality. From Carnegie Hall to MoMA, public-private partnerships linking civic ambition and wealthy philanthropists have endowed the city with world-class non-profit cultural institutions. Allied to this, New York's hugely dynamic cultural scene finds expression in everything from Broadway theatre to hip hop. The city is also a giant commercial marketplace for art and creative industries, from art auctions to fashion, design and advertising." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/new-york" target="_hplink"> Read more about New York City</a>.
"Paris has survived sieges, plague, wars, revolution and occupation to become one of the world's great centres of cultural life. In literature, music, cinema and, perhaps most of all, visual art, the city's residents have made huge contributions to cultural innovation. As the data shows, Parisians are also great consumers of culture, supporting a wide range of venues. In its post-colonial phase, the city has also become strikingly diverse and multiracial, opening up further possibilities for innovation and mixing." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/paris" target="_hplink">Read more about Paris </a>.
"Sydney's cultural life is a blend of the formal and iconic, represented by its major cultural institutions and the informal, sometimes gritty and challenging activities of its artists and creative communities. Its natural beauty and climate shape Sydney's thriving, distinctive and sometimes surprising cultural life." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/sydney" target="_hplink">Read more about Sydney</a>.
"Shanghai has emerged from its turbulent twentieth century of war, occupation and revolution as mainland China's largest city and commercial capital. Its size, relative wealth and position as a major port have long made it one of the most cosmopolitan of Chinese cities. Once known as the 'Paris of the East', it was home to as many as 70,000 foreigners in the early 1930s, and tens of thousands of Jewish refugees passed through the city in the years that followed." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/shanghai" target="_hplink">Read more about Shanghai</a>.
"While Tokyo has been Japan's most important city for almost 500 years, its rise to world city status was driven by its remarkable recovery from the ashes of the Second World War. Japanese companies and their famously hard-working staff were responsible for an 'economic miracle' that by the end of the 1980s had turned Japan into one of the world's richest nations." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/tokyo" target="_hplink">Read more about Tokyo </a>.
"The reunited Berlin is emerging as one of the creative hubs of Europe. Its 'poor but sexy' image has helped attract a vibrant youth culture and a growing high-tech business sector." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/berlin" target="_hplink">Read more about Berlin</a>.
"Sao Paulo is the largest city in the Southern hemisphere and the economic powerhouse of Brazil. Its ethnically mixed population have helped give it a diverse, dynamic culture. " <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/s%C3%A3o-paulo" target="_hplink">Read more about Sao Paulo</a>.
"Singapore's decades of rapid growth have made it South East Asia's commercial and trading hub. The city-state is now turning its attention to culture, with an ambitious programme of infrastructure development." <a href="http://www.worldcitiesculturereport.com/cities/singapore" target="_hplink">Read more about Singapore</a>.