This is a project that Owen Powell and Alex Horne started on October 24th, 2006 (United Nations Day), and finished on October 24th, 2007. Our aim was to prove that London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, by endeavouring to meet and chat to a citizen from every country in the world who currently lives and works in London.

We managed to meet people from 189 countries. According to the UN, there are 192 countries in the world, so we've proved that at the very least, London contains over 98.4% of the nations of the world!


We are still looking for people from three countries:

Marshall Islands; Palau; Tuvalu.

The final encounters during our year appear below, but to follow our story from the start please click on the links under 'How we're doing' on the left-hand side.  The countries appear in the order in which we found their representative. (Any country with an asterisk * next to it has a brief account of the interview - longer versions will appear in the future!)

To find out more about the project, including our self-imposed rules, then click here.


Follow this link if you have the urge to see us looking awkward on Channel 4 news.  Or just below you can see us when we were half-way through the project being interviewed by George Alagiah on BBC World.


Please email us on worldinonecity@hotmail.com if you want to get in touch, or if you know any shy Londoners who are also Tuvaluan, Palauan or Marshallese.

George Alagiah interviews us on the BBC

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Some Half-Way Stats

Owen Powell - 21st June 2007

So. Now we're half-way through the project, it's time to reflect on what we've discovered so far. I was hoping to share some rather profound reflections on life and the world, but I'm currently in the middle of a severe cold (I'm tempted to call it flu) and my head's not quite working right. In lieu of anything meaningful, then, here's a whole host of numbers that might say something about how far we've got.

(Incidentally, it's actually quite hard work dividing up the world. I've gone for slightly more specific categories than just the seven continents, but even looking at the 'UN subregions' for help wasn't that useful. In the end, I've more or less decided on my own categories. I don't know if this is even worth posting now, but it's taken me a whole afternoon with an atlas, the internet and a calculator, so it's going into the blog.)

North America 3/3 countries 100%
Central America 5/7 countries 71%
Caribbean 6/13 countries 46%
South America 9/12 countries 75%

North Africa 3/5 countries 60%
West Africa 5/16 countries 31%
Central Africa 1/8 countries 13%
Southern Africa 5/14 countries 36%
East Africa 4/10 countries 40%

Middle East 8/15 countries 53%
Central Asia 4/9 countries 44%
South Asia 5/7 countries 71%
East Asia 4/5 countries 80%
South-East Asia 5/11 countries 45%

Oceania 2/14 countries 14%

North Europe 6/7 countries 86%
West Europe 6/13 countries 46%
East Europe 5/8 countries 63%
Central and South Europe 10/15 countries 66%

So, there we have it. We're doing quite well in finding people from the Americas, and some parts of Asia, and reasonably badly in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe, interestingly, has been a real mixed bag. The 'West Europe' category (for example) contains several titchy countries that we haven't yet located, so our early expectations that we'd 'complete' Europe first have been challenged somewhat.

Nobody mention Oceania.


Of the 96 people we have met, 50 have been men and 46 women*. That seems almost too equal to be true, given how random and disorganised the 'finding people' process actually was. The youngest was 18, the oldest 68 (although we've been a bit shy about asking ages on some occasions). Jobs have ranged from publishers to perfumiers, from architects to butlers, from musicians to security guards. We've met people in shops, cafes and restaurants, interviewed them watching football in pubs, watching American football at two in the morning, working on market stalls and in launderettes. We ourselves have been interviewed on tv, on radio, online and in the papers, and (almost without exception) everyone we speak to gets very excited about the idea. Most people are very optimistic on our behalf, but nobody knows for sure if it's even possible. We don't know if it is.

But all we've got to do is the same again, and we're there.

* Real WIOC enthusiasts might point out at this stage that we met two people for the UK, and two for Canada, but on both occasions the pairing was male-female so if you count the individuals in these pairings as half-people (no offence, George and Iris, and Tara and Chris) the distribution of genders is still the same. I can't help thinking that there's a clearer way to express the sentiment in that last sentence.

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