WHAT IS THE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD?

In our September/October issue, a panel of Economist writers set about answering the first of our Big Questions: what is the capital of the world today? The Economist's globalisation editor, John Parker, awarded the gong to London, just ahead of New York. Others spoke up for New York, Beijing, Delhi, Singapore and Washington, DC. On our website, we launched a readers' poll. What followed was a heated discussion and impassioned defence of many cities, from the obvious to the obscure.

Almost 5,000 readers have voted, and the results are in—you can see the full break-down below. Our readers’ pick is New York, the UN's current home, which has won with 34% of the vote. London was a distant second, with 21%; Singapore an unexpected third, with 18%. Washington, for all its power, came in fourth place with 6%, pursued by the cities rising in the East, Shanghai, Beijing and Delhi, on 3-4% apiece. Among the contenders suggested by readers, Stockholm (for its efficiency and neutrality), Brussels (as capital of Europe and an administrative hub) and Istanbul ("with its eye-dazzlingly rich history, centuries-old role as an imperial capital and its religious and cultural diversity," according to Murat Ozel) all had dedicated support. Nicosia less so.

Many readers quibbled with the Parker Scale, which rated each contender out of five on five criteria—power and influence, income and wealth, education, global connections and culture. Polly Pearson suggested that cleanliness, health, green space, happiness and the gap between rich and poor should be taken into consideration. Anthony Hall thought that vulnerability to natural disasters should have a bearing, which would count against Washington and New York. Buongiorno2 championed Paris as an "alpha city" and financial hub. And why did Delhi score only one (out of five) for culture? "Goes to show what you know about India and Delhi," said Rohan Jolly.

One UN employee (UNGuy) suggested that we start by identifying future sites for the UN headquarters. "Relocating to another established or upcoming A-list country would be totally unsuitable," he said. "The ideal would be a highly accessible small-to-medium size democracy, big enough to absorb the UN, but small enough to show it respect. It should be in a time zone where office hours overlap with many capitals and peace-keeping operations, and have enough space available to build. Istanbul?"

Africa, Australasia and the Middle East were barely represented, and although there was a consensus that the developing world would have its day soon, the might of New York and London prevails for now. John Parker had them tying on all counts except power and influence, where, although neither shone, he felt London had the edge. But New York has our readers' hearts—and votes.

~ GEORGIA GRIMOND

NEW YORK
 
34% (1861 votes)
LONDON
 
21% (1169 votes)
SINGAPORE
 
18% (970 votes)
WASHINGTON
 
6% (317 votes)
SHANGHAI
 
4% (199 votes)
BEIJING
 
3% (186 votes)
DELHI
 
3% (177 votes)
MEXICO CITY
 
2% (113 votes)
TOKYO
 
2% (99 votes)
MUMBAI
 
2% (95 votes)
Paris (other)
 
1% (38 votes)
ISTANBUL (other)
 
0% (21 votes)
hong kong (other)
 
0% (15 votes)
Elche (other)
 
0% (15 votes)
Jerusalem (other)
 
0% (14 votes)
Berlin (other)
 
0% (14 votes)
Athens (other)
 
0% (14 votes)
sao paulo (other)
 
0% (14 votes)
toronto (other)
 
0% (12 votes)
JUIZ DE FORA (other)
 
0% (12 votes)
RIO (other)
 
0% (12 votes)
Rotterdam (other)
 
0% (6 votes)
sài gòn (other)
 
0% (6 votes)
Moscow (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Los Angeles (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Chicago (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Mestia (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Brussels (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
vienna (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Seoul (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Irkutsk (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
MELBOURNE (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Geneva (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Vancouver  (other)
 
0% (5 votes)
Barcelona (other)
 
0% (4 votes)
Ketchum, Idaho (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Pyongyang (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Makkah (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
CACHOEIRO DE ITAPEMIRIM (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
A relatively 'neutral' island located mid-ocean, e.g. the Azores, Isla Isabella, etc. (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
i don't know (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Madrid (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Doha (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
nowhere (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Johannesburg (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Oslo (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Buenos Aires (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
JOAQUIM TÁVORA (other)
 
0% (3 votes)
Milano (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
tel aviv (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Someplace in Antarctica because that's where The Masters of Our World live (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Budapest (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Rome (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Warsaw (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Prague (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
BANGKOK (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Bern (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Hangchow (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Dubai (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Naypyidaw (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Vernonia (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
ABU DHABI (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Riga (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
TEHRAN (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Helsinki (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Sydney (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Bourgas (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Detroit (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Yerevan (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Amsterdam (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
fort collins, co, usa (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Kabul, Afghanistan (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Vilnius (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Las Vegas (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Dublin (other)
 
0% (2 votes)
Apt (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Sofia (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
zurich (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Valletta (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Salt Lake City (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
cordoba (spain) (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Cairo (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Bonn (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Lagos (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Guarapuava (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Cracow (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
MALE (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Peabiru, Brazil (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Recife (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Nairobi (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Dniepropetrovsk (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Bristol (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
cork (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Sarajevo (other) (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
San Francisco (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Auckland, New Zealand. (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Camogli. (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Bogota (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Silicon Valley (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Seattle (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Fresno (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Boca Raton (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
San Jose, Costa Rica (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Caracas (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Denver (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
PERTH (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Whitstable (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
marrakesh (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Rabat (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
ISLAMABAD (other)
 
0% (1 vote)
Total voters: 5530