World’s Top 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live

10. Bern, Switzerland

The country's capital is home to several major Swiss companies including Rolex, Toblerone, Swisscom and The Swatch Group, as well as the foreign offices of American companies, such as eBay, Cisco and Ingram Micro. Bern is popular for its lower taxes, as well as liberal labor laws. To top it off, the city has managed to retain its cultural heritage. Old Bern has been recognized as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site for being one of Europe's best examples of a medieval town. The city, which is filled with diverse historical attractions, was home to Albert Einstein from 1903 and 1905, during which he developed his groundbreaking theory of relativity. Human resources consultant ECA International has drawn up its latest list of the world's most expensive cities for U.S. expatriates. The survey examined 400 cities and regions across the world, and measured a basket of common items purchased by foreign workers in U.S. dollars terms, including food, clothing and electrical goods. 09 more cities after the break...

09. Kobe, Japan

Kobe is one of Japan's busiest container ports. It is also the point of origin and namesake of the world-renowned Kobe beef. While Japan is the only Asian country surveyed where the cost of goods in the ECA basket has fallen, it is the most expensive country for foreign workers in U.S. dollar terms. That's a largely a result of the appreciation of the yen over the past six months, as well as the already high cost of goods and services.

08. Geneva, Switzerland

Situated along Lake Geneva in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Geneva is regarded as the global center for diplomacy. It's home to many United Nations agencies, as well as the World Trade Organization, Red Cross and World Economic Forum headquarters.

One quarter of this picturesque city is made up of public parks, making it a popular destination for U.S. expatriates looking to relocate. Geneva is also well known for its haute cuisine, boasting more restaurants per capita than New York City.

07. Luanda, Angola

The capital of Angola has seen an influx of multinational companies looking to tap the country's rich energy reserves. The country is also rich in other goods, exporting coffee, diamonds, sugar, iron and salt.

But a three-decade-long civil war has devastated Luanda's infrastructure, driving up the cost of goods and services. From haircuts to gym memberships to fast-food meals, nothing comes cheap in the city. A one-year gym membership reportedly costs $2,500 and a haircut can cost upwards of $150.

06. Zurich, Switzerland

Despite its low tax rates, Switzerland's largest city ranks as the fifth most expensive for expatriates. A large reason for this is the rapid appreciation of the Swiss franc, which has strengthened 27 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last year.

The country's business center is the base for many leading financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and UBS. In addition to its position as a European financial hub, Zurich is famous for its watch companies and chocolate makers, such as Lindt & Spr√ľngli.

05. Yokohama, Japan

As Japan's second-largest city, Yokohama is a major commercial center for the Greater Tokyo Area.

The port city has a strong economic base, particularly in the biotechnology, semiconductor and shipping industries. Carmaker Nissan and Fujitsu semiconductor have moved their headquarters to the city.

Yokohama also is a budding artistic hub. The city is gearing up to host its triennale art event from August to December this year, with artists from around the world exhibiting their works at venues around the city.

04. Stavanger, Norway

The discovery of oil in the North Sea during the 1960s, converted this quaint metropolis into Norway's petroleum capital. Over 50 energy companies have offices in Stavanger, making the city home to hundreds of expatriates working in the oil and gas sector.

During the recent economic downturn, Norway's oil wealth meant the government could sustain economic growth with a lavish stimulus program. The country also has one of the world's most generous welfare systems, including public schools that offer free, high-quality education.

It is the high cost of food and transportation that make Stavanger No. 4 on the list, however. Food prices in Norway are around 50 percent higher than the euro zone average, with meat, sugar and cereal products being the most expensive products.

03. Nagoya, Japan

Known as Japan's most dynamic region, Nagoya is located 165 miles west of Tokyo. It is the hub for most of Japan's manufacturers, and produces a large portion of the country's automobile and aircraft parts.

A number of Japanese automotive companies are headquartered in Nagoya, including Toyota and Honda. Fortunately, these manufacturing plants were largely unaffected by the impact of the March earthquake and tsunami, which struck the region north of Tokyo.

02. Oslo, Norway

Oslo has been the second most expensive city for expatriates for six years in a row — that's thanks to the relative strength of the Kroner, which has appreciated 16 percent against the U.S. dollar over the last year, and the resilience of the Norwegian economy during the financial crisis.

This hub of Norwegian trade is the home to the world's largest shipping companies, shipbrokers and maritime insurance companies.

The city also boasts of one of the world's most extensive and efficient metro transportation systems, and an environmentally friendly tram system. Efficiency comes at a price, however — a one-way ticket on public transportation costs around $5.60.

01. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world, with a movie ticket costing $24 and the average taxi fare at $8.
As a global financial center, the city is home to headquarters for many of the world's largest investment banks and insurance companies. Tokyo is also one of greenest cities in the world. Despite having a population of more than eight million, it has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in Asia-Pacific. The city has been praised for its comprehensive transportation policy, under which the city's entire taxi fleet is being converted to electric vehicles.

World’s 10 Most Colorful Chinatowns Share

1. Singapore
Singapore's Chinatown, once home to the first Chinese settlers in what's now a heavily Westernized city-state, is one of its few distinctly Asian neighborhoods. The enclave was home to the area's earliest Chinese settlers. Several of its institutions, such as the Heritage Centre, Food Street, and Night Market, preserve the culture of its original inhabitants, while some areas of the district are designated national heritage sites. Many historic buildings remain as relics of the past, as well as to complement the otherwise modern landscape. More after the break...
We have compile a list of most colorful Chinatowns in the world. Take a look at the some wonderful photos of these world's  great Chinatowns. Please feel free to drop your comments.

2. Melbourne
Melbourne boasts the oldest Chinatown in the world, established during Victoria's Gold Rush in 1854. Catch the world's longest Chinese dragon– the Millennium Dai Loong Dragon tops 100 meters — in action as it is brought to life by 200 people during the Chinese New Year parade.

3. Kuala Lumpur
The capital of Malaysia was actually founded by Chinese tin prospectors in the 1850s, who played a pivotal role in the city's transformation from a jungle settlement to a center for the tin mining industry. The Chinese remain the city's dominant ethnic group and control a large proportion of the country's commerce. Chinatown, known locally as Petaling Street or Jalan Petaling, is famous for its food stalls and night market, where shoppers can load up on fresh produce and counterfeit DVDs, watches and purses (don't forget to haggle).

4. Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Arriving in Georgetown, Penang, off the west coast of Malaysia after a long journey from Thailand, you may almost think that you accidentally traveled all the way to China. The city's Chinatown is one of the largest and best preserved in the world, with everyday sights and sounds reminiscent of a small city in China. Most residents are descended from Chinese immigrants who arrived in Penang during the colonial era and made their fortunes as traders and shopkeepers. Many of their original shops are still intact today.

5. Toronto
In the most ethnically diverse city in the world, residents have their pick of seven Chinatowns. The city's main Chinatown was formed in the late 1960s, when many businesses in the original Chinatown were forced to move. Since the 1980s, the Greater Toronto Area's Chinese community has migrated to the suburbs of Scarborough, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Markham, and North York, where shopping centers are reminiscent of Hong Kong's malls and street stalls.

6. New York
New York's first Chinese residents began arriving in Manhattan's Lower East Side in the late 19th century to escape discriminatory measures on the West Coast. In the 1980s, the neighborhood eclipsed San Francisco's as the largest Chinatown outside Asia. But don't overlook the city's other Chinese enclaves – in Elmhurst and Flushing in Queens, and along Avenue U and 8th Avenue in Brooklyn. In fact, Flushing's Chinatown has now surpassed Manhattan's in size.

7. Vancouver
There's a reason this city has been nicknamed "Hongcouver." In the years leading up to Hong Kong's 1997 handover to China, waves of wealthy immigrants flooded the city. The mayor, Sam Sullivan, even speaks Cantonese. Vancouver's Chinatown dates back to the early 20th century, although recent arrivals have headed for the suburb of Richmond, where many of the Chinese restaurants are considered the best outside of Hong Kong.

8. San Francisco
The city's Chinese New Year parade, an annual event since the 1860s, is the largest Asian cultural celebration outside of Asia. Chinatown may seem like a tacky tourist trap, but one cannot ignore the history and significance of one of the world's best-known Chinese quarters, once the stomping grounds of Sun Yat-Sen and Amy Tan. The original enclave, built in the 1850s by settlers who had arrived during the gold rush and railroad days, would be the world's oldest had it not been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Since the 1960s, much of the city's Chinese community has moved into the Sunset and Richmond districts, while newer immigrants often settle in the suburbs around the Bay Area.

9. Yokohama, Japan
Yokohama Chinatown is the largest throughout Asia, in developing the environment when the Port of Yokohama was opened to foreign trade in 1859 because many of the Chinese traders and settled here. The roads and streets of Chinatown is marked by nine flashy colors, but the gate was found at all.

10. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok Chinatown is famous just as Yaowarat or Sampeng, after the strolling nearby, Bangkok's Chinatown is as old as the city itself. In the late 1700s, as a young Bangkok city expanded, Chinese merchants were asked to move. They settled here near the river where they have since that time will be quick to this point. The tourists will be fast to show the "Traimit Wat temple", which the largest houses gold Buddha, weighing in more than five tons. Do not miss the great shopping opportunities, especially the items on display in the old Chinese pharmacy.

The Forbidden City of China — Zijin Cheng

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Sep 6, 2010

The Forbidden City of China — Zijin Cheng

The Chinese name of the Forbidden City is Zijin Cheng. From the Ming Dynasty to the end of Qing Dynasty the "Forbidden City" was the Chinese imperial palace. It is situated in the centre of Beijing. It was served as the home of emperors and their households for almost five hundred years. It was also the political centre of Chinese government. More images after the break...
The Forbidden City is the largest palace which covers 72 ha and it is a rectangle 753 metres from east to west and 961 metres from north to south. It was designed to be the middle of the ancient, city of Beijing. The Forbidden City consists of 980 buildings with 8,707 rooms. In 1987, it was declared a world heritage site. This post features a collection of  some incredible photographs of Zijin Cheng city.
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