An important settlement for more than two millennia, by the late 12th century Paris had become a walled cathedral city that was one of Europe’s foremost centers of learning and the arts and the largest city in the Western world until the turn of the 18th century. Today it is one of the world’s leading business and cultural centres, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, science, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major cities. Continue reading to see how Paris has changed since the early 1900s – *3 bonus photos added*.

The city has one of the largest GDPs in the world, &euro607 billion (US$845 billion) as of 2011, and as a result of its high concentration of national and international political, cultural and scientific institutions is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. The Paris Region hosts the world headquarters of 30 of the Fortune Global 500 companies in several business districts, notably La Defense, the largest dedicated business district in Europe.

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