Welcome to the era of the megacity. More than half the global population now lives in urban areas, and there's no going back to the farm. With China leading the way, today's global cities are surging ahead in population and economic heft, powering the world economy -- and posing some very difficult problems for governments. But it's not all about the Beijings, the New Yorks, and Tokyos. Drawn from the McKinsey Global Institute's index of the world's 75 Most Dynamic Cities, some of these up-and-coming commercial hubs -- including Belo Horizonte, Fuzhou, and even Philadelphia -- may surprise you. How many can you honestly say you've heard of, or visited?
Since being pried open by the British during the First Opium War, Shanghai has served as China's window to the world. Home to the world's busiest port, China's largest stock exchange, and twice as many skyscrapers as in New York, Shanghai today is China's financial center and most cosmopolitan city. Often called the birthplace of modern China -- the Chinese Communist Party was founded there -- it is the centerpiece of the country's rapid march toward prosperity, its glamorous skyline marking the city as a symbol of China's arrival on the world stage.
Above, a view from the waterfront Bund provides a general view of the Huangpu River and the Lujiazui financial district in Pudong New Area on Dec. 22, 2010, in Shanghai, China.