The world is a fascinating place bound by unique cultures and languages. As large as it is, it is also small, with various groups gathering in cities all around the world creating vibrant places to invigorate any culture lover. From Australia and Brazil to Singapore and the USA, there are many cities in which visitors can explore the world or at least a smaller portion of it. We look at ten of the best.
Known as a welcoming place for immigrants and asylum seekers, Amsterdam, which is the largest city in the Netherlands, proudly boasts a diverse population. With approximately 178 different backgrounds, the city is a lively blend of friendly people from all over the world. This cosmopolitan city also has a host of multi-lingual people, and for those new residents who cannot speak Dutch, the city offers many language classes ‘mostly free of charge’ to help them. Amsterdam also hosts many cultural events throughout the year, which emphasize their worldly view, including the DRONGO Festival, a celebration for multilingualism held at the Amsterdam Public Library, and the Dutch Theatre Festival, which hosts numerous ‘language-no-problem’ performances.
As the largest city in the UK, London is home to one of the most ethnically diverse populations found anywhere. From India to Jamaica to Ghana and many more, the world is truly represented in this vibrant area. Approximately one-third of Londoners are foreign-born, and even though the official language is English, the lively streets are brimming with global languages — well over 200 languages are spoken. And while many people have chosen London as their new home, they still have a love for their culture and share it in many ways, including delicious eateries and festivals such as the Notting Hill Carnival, a Caribbean street party, and Diwali or Festival of Lights, which holds a religious significance for the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain faiths.
Located in Southern California, Los Angeles is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with people from approximately 140 countries speaking 86 different languages calling it home. With immigrant-friendly laws, it is a popular place for those seeking a new life in the USA. The city also has the distinction of being a place without a majority population creating a true vibrancy. Between Los Angeles itself along with the cities that inhabit the county, the area is brimming with cultural neighborhoods, such as Koreatown, Little Tokyo, and Boyle Heights — an area popular with the Latino community. Festivals celebrating all different cultures are also to be found throughout the area.
While immigration is a hot topic in France, as it is in many countries, there is no doubt that Paris has a diverse group of global cultures. Although it is difficult to determine an exact number of foreigners living in Paris as France’s laws forbids asking about ethnicity on censuses, independent surveys puts the percentage anywhere from 14% to 20% with the majority of immigrants coming from outside the EU. Strolling around the streets, visitors will find many dynamic neighborhoods. For example, the Quartier Chinois (Chinatown) in the 13th arrondissement is a lively community of several Asian ethnicities while the eclectic Belleville (10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements) is a multicultural beauty made up of many ethnicities, including North Africans, Jews and Asians.
New York City
One of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, New York City is an exhilarating metropolis located on the East Coast of the USA. Made up of five boroughs with Queens being the most diverse with people from India, Korea, and Brazil to name but a few, it is believed that about 800 languages are spoken here by the ethnic groups that make up this exciting city. Immigration-friendly, NYC established the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which has created several executive orders and laws to help those who are coming from abroad — about 36% of its populace. A vibrant mix of cultures, their contribution can be found all over the city, including exotic eateries and incredible art.
Another Californian multicultural gem, San Francisco is smaller than many of the other cities mentioned thus far but just as cosmopolitan. A large percentage (36%) of foreign-born residents call this 49-square-mile city home with the largest group from China. Other immigrants come from places such as Germany, Italy, Mexico, India, and many others. The city is dotted with vibrant neighborhoods, including Chinatown, the Mission District, and North Beach and is also known for celebrating its multicultural roots through various festivals and events throughout the year. Highlights include the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade, which has been named at one of the top ten parades in the world, and the Ethnic Dance Festival, a celebration of the diverse Bay-area communities through dance.
Located in southeastern Brazil, São Paulo — commonly known as Sampa to locals — is one of the most multicultural cities, if not the most, in South America. While immigration may not be as prevalent as it was in years past, the city’s colorful population is due to the many waves of immigration that began in 1870. From Italy to Lebanon to Japan to Germany to the Middle East and more, many countries are represented throughout the largest city in Brazil and can be experienced in the city’s culinary scene, religious landscape, and neighborhoods as well. Visitors can wander Bela Vista, also known as Bixiga or Bexiga, to experience Italy in São Paulo or Liberdade, which is the Japanese quarter.
Found in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a unique multicultural city as it is not only a city-state but also relatively young as it gained independence in 1965. This tiny island nation is proud of its diverse cultures and religions that ‘co-exist harmoniously.’ While the majority of its residents are of Chinese origin, other ethnic groups include Malays, Indians, and Eurasians with approximately 40% of its populace being born abroad. A smaller minority of population is made up of people from the United States and Canada as well. Ensuring that communication goes smoothly, Singapore also boasts four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.
Situated on Australia’s east coast, Sydney is a lively city with a vibrant, multicultural landscape making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. While English is the official language of Sydney, the city is brimming with multilingual people — approximately 250 languages can be heard throughout the area — as 40% of the population is from overseas, including the UK, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Italy to name a few. Celebrating their multicultural community whenever they can, Sydney also hosts events and festivals that promote cultural awareness. One of the most popular events is Living in Harmony, which is a month-long celebration of the city’s cultural diversity through a variety of festivals and other events.
With half of its population born outside the country, Toronto is often referred to as ‘the most multicultural city in the world.’ If it is not, it definitely has the distinction of being one of the most culturally diverse cities. Located in Canada, this city boasts 200 ethnic groups with over 140 languages spoken. People from the UK, Ireland, China and Italy, to name a few, represent some of the larger cultural groups, while smaller communities include people from Iran, the Netherlands, Nepal, Romania and many other countries. This exciting place also features dozens of ethnic neighborhoods waiting to be explored, including Chinatown, Greektown, Roncesvalles Village (Little Poland), Little Italy, and Little India.
By Marcelina Morfin