The health and wealth of an economy may be measured using a number of factors. One of the most common indicators of economic wealth is the gross domestic product (GDP) of a nation or region. The GDP is the total value of all the finished goods and services provided or manufactured within a particular region and period of time. This article takes a closer look at the richest urban centers within Europe in terms of the GDP.
1. Paris, France
Paris and its surrounding metropolitan area top the list of richest cities in Europe based on its 2012 GDP of $715.265 billion. This position as the richest city is an increase from its 2011 rank when it came in second place to the Nordrhein-Westfalen region in Germany. The economy of Paris is so large that it comprises roughly one-third of the national economy. The biggest industry in the Paris metropolitan area is services and commerce, which make up just over 80% of the companies in operation here. Other important economic activities here include education, health, government, and financial services. As the most important economic center in France, Paris is home to the vast majority of Fortune 500 headquarters located in this country (29 out of 31).
2. London, England
The Greater London metropolitan area of England is the second richest city in Europe. In 2012, this city reported a GDP of $714.975 billion, which makes up around 22% of the national GDP. The vast majority of economic activity in this urban area takes place in the services sector, which really began to grow just after the end of World War II. London became one of the first European countries to develop this sector, with financial services playing a major role in that development. In fact, London is now often considered the global hub for financial services. Of the roughly 841,000 company headquarters located in this city, around 15% are construction-based while 18% are science and technology-related or professional in nature.
3. Rhine-Ruhr, Germany
The third richest city in Europe is the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area of Germany which produced a GDP worth $415.772 billion in 2012. This figure represents 15% of the national GDP. Most of the economic activity in this metropolitan region takes place in Cologne, Essen, and Düsseldorf. The largest sectors within these cities include financial services, technology, and insurance services. Additionally, 12 Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters located here.
4. Madrid, Spain
With a 2012 GDP of $356.372 billion, the metropolitan region of Madrid in Spain comes in as the 4th richest city in Europe. The economy of this city has grown primarily through the industrial sector throughout the 20th century and today, this sector has become a leader in the production of high technology goods. More recently, this city has seen a shift in economic activities, which has resulted in the service sector taking over as the primary revenue generator. This city serves as the largest financial center in Spain and hosts the headquarters of nearly three-quarters of the biggest companies located in this country.