What is the most culturally diverse city in the world?

Contact us now for an accurate quote within 1 hour: info@kwintessential.co.uk Contact us

The most languages spoken? The most ethnic groups? The most religions? What is the most culturally diverse city in the world?

Well, it sort of matters how you measure it. But we’re not trying to pick a “winner” here.

Instead, we want to highlight some of the most diverse and interesting cities in the world – thrilling places you might want to visit, live, or do business in

Let’s check them out. But first:

What makes a city diverse?

Of course, any measure of what makes a city diverse is hugely open to interpretation. How do you decide whether being of a different ethnicity, speaking a different language, or being born somewhere else “counts” more for diversity?

Should it matter if most of a city’s foreign-born inhabitants come from one place? Does economic “class” count as a diversity factor?

For instance, the city of Miami has a massive number of residents born elsewhere. But 95% of them come from South American nations that, while by no means uniform, do share significant linguistic and cultural crossovers.

Equally, Johannesburg in South Africa has one of the biggest class disparities in the world. Is it then, also one of the most diverse?

This is just to underline that this list isn’t out to set a “standard” for what makes a city diverse. It’s all about drawing attention to some of the most vibrant and exciting places in the world.

What is the most culturally diverse city in the world?

Some of the most culturally diverse cities in the world could be said to include:

7) São Paulo

Brazil is home to São Paulo, the largest city in the world outside of Asia. Brazil as a whole has a huge amount of ethnic variety, primarily for historical reasons.

Millions of Europeans emigrated to Brazil during Portuguese colonisation from around 1500 to 1815. But this was nothing compared with the large numbers of African slaves forcibly brought to the country to extract its rich natural resources.

There was also a global wave of immigration from the 1840s onwards that saw 40 million people leave Europe. Millions of others left other parts of the world too, driven by famine, poverty, and the possibility of a better life elsewhere.

Many of those people wound up in Brazil – especially in São Paulo, making it probably the most diverse city in the whole of South America.

You can find major diaspora communities from Japan, Italy, and the Middle East among many, many others in this massive, dynamic, cosmopolitan city. This makes São Paulo a city of wide-ranging cuisines, religions, and cultures set amidst towering skyscrapers.

6) Singapore

Singapore is made up of three major ethnic groups – Chinese, Malay, and Indian – and has four official languages. These are English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil.

Although nowhere is perfect, Singapore is justifiably proud of the way these groups have a history of getting along (or at least disagreeing peacefully).

The three main ethnic groups make up the overwhelming majority of the city’s population. Yet there is also a significant number of international visitors and expats. This is largely due to the city-state making itself into a financial hub and its heavily pro-business national policies.

All in all, Singapore is an exciting and multicultural place to live, visit, or do business.

5) London

Around one in three residents of the United Kingdom’s capital city of London were born in a different country. Only New York City boasts a more sizable immigrant population.

Its residents’ rich cultural background has given London a reputation as one of the most diverse cities in the world. The city celebrates this diversity with numerous annual festivals, such as:

  • Notting Hill Carnival (Caribbean culture)
  • The Dragon Boat Festival (Chinese culture)
  • The Carnaval del Pueblo (Latin American culture)

There are also many, many other events that celebrate the city’s wide range of cultures, with over 50 different groups represented.

These include, most notably, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Polish, and Nigerian in addition to those listed above. That’s not to mention the huge diversity of religions and cuisines you’ll find in the most diverse city in Europe.

4) Los Angeles

On the streets of Los Angeles, California, you’ll find around 86 different languages spoken and people hailing from almost 140 different countries. This is partly because Los Angeles has to a large degree designed itself to be a good place for people to emigrate to.

There is no official majority population, making the city a true mix of a dynamic range of cultures. Mexican Americans are the largest as of 2024, but Los Angeles contains dozens of different groups.

Visit Koreatown to find the eponymous culture heavily represented. Go to Little Tokyo if you want Japanese culture and cuisine. In Los Angeles, you can also find:

  • The most Salvadorans living anywhere outside of El Salvador
  • The most Druze (an Arab people from the Levant) outside of Syria or Lebanon
  • The largest Thai population outside of Thailand

3) New York City

New York City is famous around the world for its diversity. In fact, Queens (one of New York’s five boroughs) is often cited as the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.

The city is incredibly linguistically diverse too. Arguably, it’s the most diverse in the world, with over 800 languages spoken by its residents and over half the population citing a language other than English as their native tongue.

These jaw-dropping statistics are nothing compared with the size and impact of the city itself. There’s a reason that so many movies are set in New York. It’s possible to imagine that almost anything could happen here.

2) Sydney

Around 43.2% of the population of Sydney were born overseas. Fewer than one in three Sydneysiders (as residents sometimes call themselves) have two Australian parents.

Over 250 languages are spoken in Sydney. Some of these are guessable, given geography. The strong Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino communities, for instance. But there is a large Italian population (4.3% of the entire city) and Lebanese (3.5%) among numerous others.

Unlike some potentially more diverse cities on this list, Sydney goes out of its way to celebrate the diversity of its residents. Like London, you’ll find a number of cultural festivals in the city’s calendar. The most famous is probably the 30-day Living in Harmony event.

This might be because the overwhelming majority (only 1.7% of the population are Indigenous Australians) are themselves descended from immigrants. The township was established by the British around 1790 (though Indigenous Australians have lived in the area for at least 30 000 years).

There was a massive wave of immigration to Sydney starting in the mid-late 1940s. This continues even today with little sign of doing anything other than slowing down a little.

1) Toronto

200 ethnic groups, including those from China, the UK, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Nepal, Korea, Iran, Poland, and India. Over 140 different languages spoken by the population. Over 50% of its residents born in a different country.

Toronto is often referred to as “the most diverse city in the world” for some very good reasons. You’ll see half a dozen or more ethnic neighbourhoods referred to (in classic Anglo style) as “Little” India or “Little” Portugal, “Chinatown” or “Greektown”.

Toronto does this in greater profusion and – arguably – with greater pizazz than almost anywhere in the world. Its Greektown is the biggest in the Americas. Its Little India contains the biggest South Asian marketplace.

All of this is in a city famous for its culture, sport, and the arts, and as an international business hub. If you’re ever in Canada, you can’t afford to miss it.

The value culture diversity brings to a city

It’s impossible to say which is definitively the most culturally diverse city in the world. But those listed above would probably have some claim to the title no matter how you measured things.

What is clear is that cultural diversity brings a huge amount of value to a city, be it in terms of cuisine, interest, excitement, or opportunities.

Achieve Your Global Potential

Contact us now for your translation needs, and we promise to respond within an hour. Call us on 01460 279900 or send us a message to get started.

Contact us