What makes a city fast? It starts with opportunity -- a culture that nurtures creative action and game-changing enterprise. It's where the number of patents filed is high, or where the high-tech sector is expanding. These cities invest in physical, cultural, and intellectual infrastructure that will sustain growth. Finally, fast cities are full of highly creative people. Here are the 30 fastest cities that are shaping the future of the world.

Population: 14.5 million
Leading Indicators: In the last decade, foreign investors have sunk $73 billion into Shanghai-based projects
Fast Companies: China Display; China East Airlines

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Population: 18.8 million
Leading Indicators: Nation's highest per capita income in the urban core
Fast Companies: Viacom; Jet Blue Airways, Goldman Sachs

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Population: 4.2 million
Leading Indicators: No. 1 in the world in scientist citations
Fast Companies: Lucasfilm; Wild Brain; and nearby, the whole Silicon Valley crowd

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Population: 12.6 million
Leading Indicators: Named UNESCO's first-ever City of Design; more than 14,000 students are enrolled in the University of Buenos Aires's design and architecture programs
Fast Companies: Pol-ka Producciones

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Population: 5.1 million
Leading Indicators: The city counts 100 different ethnic communities; 44 percent of residents are foreign-born
Fast Companies: Nortel; Four Seasons Hotels; TAXI, the brand builder behind Mini and Viagra

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Population: 3.3 million
Leading Indicators: Foreign visitors to South Africa have more than doubled since 1994
Fast Companies: Dimension Data; MTN; Investec

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Population: 3.4 million
Leading Indicators: 14 percent of Berlin's population are immigrants, from 180 nations
Fast Companies: MTV Europe; IKV+ + Technologies; Ronen Kadushin's Open Design

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Population: 276,000
Leading Indicators: Generating patents at the rate of 11.45 a year per 100,000 people, nearly four times the U.S. city average
Fast Companies: LSI; Advanced Energy Industries

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Population: 9.6 million
Leading Indicators: No.4 patent generator in the world
Fast Companies: Samsung Electronics; LG Electronics

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Population: 1.6 million
Leading Indicators: Highest percentage of college grads aged 25 to 34 in the U.S
Fast Companies: Red Hat; SAS Institute

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Population: 9.5 million
Leading Indicators: Since 1999, the city has planted 2.5 million square feet of heat-reducing rooftop gardens, more than all other U.S. cities combined
Fast Companies: CDW; W.W. Grainger; Chicago Board of Trade

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Population: 1.7 million
Leading Indicators: Europe's least-polluted major city, says Cushman & Wakefield
Fast Companies: Ericsson; H&M; clean techies Envac and Fortnum

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Population: 2.5 million
Leading Indicators: With 125 projects and counting, Portland has the most structures certified by the U.S. Green Building Council
Fast Companies: Nike; Tektronix; Adidas USA; ad firm Wieden + Kennedy

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Population: 2.1 million
Leading Indicators: The world's most livable city, according to a Mercer survey
Fast Companies: Electronics Arts; Relic Entertainment; 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

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Population: 5.1 million
Leading Indicators: More than 98 percent of children complete secondary education
Fast Companies: Jabil Circuit; YTL Holdings

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Population: 928,000
Leading Indicators: The city's technology exports have quadrupled since 2002
Fast Companies: Nectar Lifesciences

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Population: 568,000
Leading Indicators: Second-highest tech GDP growth in the United States, says the Milken Institute
Fast Companies: Micron; ClickBank

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Population: 2.9 million
Leading Indicators: 45 percent of residents use extensive bus system
Fast Companies: América Latina Logística

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Population: 1.1 million
Leading Indicators: Youngest urban citizenry in the United States
Fast Companies: Alzheimer's drugmaker Myriad Genetics

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Population: 399,000
Leading Indicators: 58 percent of residents use the Internet, with the cheapest connection rates in Europe
Fast Companies: MicroLink; Skype; Delfi

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Population: 4.8 million
Leading Indicators: Home to 1,500 design studios, among them outposts of Hewlett-Packard, Volvo, and Audi, as well as 18 design schools
Fast Companies: B01 Arquitectes; Morillas Brand Design; Smart Design

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Population: 5.5. million
Leading Indicators: Five years ago, Miami's Wynwood Art District didn't exist; today, it boasts nearly 70 galleries and art spaces
Fast Companies: Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Bacardi U.S.A.; "tropical modernist" architects Arquitectonica

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Population: 2.5 million
Leading Indicators: International Fashion Week, created in 1997 by local couturepreneur Oumou Sy, has become as annual ritual for European fashionistas
Fast Companies: Sonatel; Pictoon Animation

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Population: 1.3 million
Leading Indicators: One-fifth of the world's construction cranes are at work in Dubai
Fast Companies: Dubai Holding; Emaar Properties; many, many foreign technology and media outfits

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Population: 9.7 million
Leading Indicators: Moody's recently upgraded its credit rating from speculative
Fast Companies: Dogan Holding

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Population: 4.3 million
Leading Indicators: The world's third favorite city after London and Paris, according to Anholt GMI City Brands Index
Fast Companies: Lend Lease; Telstra

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Population: 1.5 million
Leading Indicators: Highest number by far of Wi-Fi hot spots per capita in the United States
Fast Companies: Dell Computer; Whole Foods Market

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Population: 543,000
Leading Indicators: The University of Wisconsin at Madison spends more on R&D than Stanford, MIT, or Harvard
Fast Companies: Promega; Third Wave Technologies; EMD Biosciences

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Population: 946,000
Leading Indicators: Among the top 10 in the United States for job growth and high-tech-industry concentration
Fast Companies: Raytheon Missile Systems; UniSource Energy; Universal Avionics

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Population: 8.5 million
Leading Indicators: The London Stock Exchange had the most initial public offerings in the world in 2006
Fast Companies: New-media startups OTP Media; MX Telecom; Jobpartners

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The 30 Fastest Cities To Work, Live, and Play

What makes a city fast? It starts with opportunity -- a culture that nurtures creative action and game-changing enterprise. It's where the number of patents filed is high, or where the high-tech sector is expanding. These cities invest in physical, cultural, and intellectual infrastructure that will sustain growth. Finally, fast cities are full of highly creative people. Here are the 30 fastest cities that are shaping the future of the world.

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