From Rio (home of the Olympic Games) to London (home of the Brexit vote), these were the most searched cities of 2016.
The City of Angels is so much more than Hollywood, as 2016 proved. The hype continued to grow around Los Angeles’ vibrant creative scene, healthy cuisine and temperate weather. All that sun did come at a price, as southern California’s drought stretched into a fifth year, worsening a rash of wildfires that threatened the region.
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Dubai is an attention-getter, from its shining skyscrapers to its fantastical opulence. In 2016, it made headlines by opening the world’s largest indoor theme park, inviting Hyperloop designs and breaking ground on a hotel that would house its very own rainforest.
In March 2016, terror attacks on the Brussels airport and metro in March left more than a dozen dead, jolting Europe’s peaceful capital. Political uncertainty also mounted as solutions to the region’s debt crisis eluded leaders and the U.K.’s Brexit threat became a reality.
New York City
A big year draws to a close for the Big Apple. Home to the campaign headquarters for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (and their election night events), New York City played an outsized role in this year’s U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, Broadway lit up with celebrations of diversity, the Stonewall Inn area was named the first national monument to LGBT rights and the city marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
Germany and its capital city are a powerful force at the center of both the refugee and euro crises. Angela Merkel is a global leader to watch as she maneuvers in an increasingly polarized country and swats away calls to cap refugee resettlement. Meanwhile, Berlin, with its plentiful jobs and cultural clout, continues its rise as an expatriate and travel hotspot.
Change is roiling this glittering city-state on the South China Sea. As Hong Kong nears the 20-year mark of its return to Chinese sovereignty, many residents of the global financial hub no longer see its governing principle of “one country, two systems” as the way forward. Since Hong Kong’s fight for democracy came to a head in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, the plight of new, independence-minded leaders has drawn China’s ire -- and the world’s attention.
Rio de Janeiro
With the threat of Zika virus and unfinished construction looming over the 2016 Summer Olympics, many wondered if Rio was up to the job. Over two intense weeks, the city exceeded expectations as thousands of visitors watched the world's best athletes compete. According to Brazil’s ministry of tourism, 87 percent of had such a good time, they plan to return.
London was at the center of the shocking Brexit vote, Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union. With 72 percent turnout, Leave won narrowly by 52 percent to 48 percent for Remain. Theresa May, who replaced David Cameron as prime minister, now has two years to negotiate the U.K.’s next steps in its uncertain future.
The star-studded 69th Cannes Film Festival attracted its share of off-screen drama: Sean Penn got boos (his war drama “The Last Face” received grim reviews), and festival emcee Laurent Lafitte delivered a controversial rape joke that seemed to be aimed at Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. Director Ken Loach emerged as a bright spot, taking home his second career Palme d’Or — the festival’s highest honor — for “I, Daniel Blake.”
After the November 2015 terrorist attacks left over 130 dead and hundreds wounded, Paris remains under a state of emergency. One year later, as the city came to terms with a new reality, it remembered the victims in a series of ceremonies held at the attack sites — the Stade de France, the Bataclan concert hall and several Parisian restaurants.