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It seems that humanity is always vying to exceed our past accomplishments, and nowhere is the evidence clearer than in the tallest buildings that make up our cities.

We’ve previously looked at how the architectural feats of humanity have simply grown in magnitude over time, tracing this progress as far back as the Stone Age.

The question now is, how much higher and further into the skies can we reach? This infographic by Alan’s Factory Outlet looks at the glittering urban skyscrapers on every continent. We also examine some interesting facts about each region.

Asia: Growing Ever Upwards

The first name on this list certainly needs no introduction. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Middle East. With just a one minute elevator ride to the Burj Khalifa’s pinnacle, it must seem like even the sky is no longer the limit.

Building City, Country Height # Floors
Burj Khalifa 🇦🇪 Dubai, UAE 828m / 2,715ft 163
Shanghai Tower 🇨🇳 Shanghai, China 632m / 2,073ft 128
Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel 🇸🇦 Mecca, Saudi Arabia 601m / 1,971ft 120
Goldin Finance 117 🇨🇳 Tianjin, China 597m / 1,958ft 128
Ping An Finance Center 🇨🇳 Shenzhen, China 592m / 1,965ft 115

Ping An Finance Center from Shenzhen edges into fifth place on the list, and it’s worth mentioning the speed of change occurring in the city. China’s hi-tech capital will see the completed construction of approximately 51 buildings over 145m (476ft) by the end of 2020.

North America: Concrete Jungle

The One World Trade Center, built to memorialize the loss of the Twin Towers after September 11th, 2001, is also informally called the “Freedom Tower”. It’s exactly 1,776ft high—symbolizing the year the U.S. Declaration of Independence was adopted.

Building City, Country Height # Floors
One World Trade Center 🇺🇸 New York City, U.S. 541m / 1,776ft 104
Central Park Tower 🇺🇸 New York City, U.S. 472m / 1,550ft 98
Willis Tower 🇺🇸 Chicago, U.S. 442.1m / 1,451ft 110
111 West 57th Street 🇺🇸 New York City, U.S. 435m / 1,428ft 82
One Vanderbilt 🇺🇸 New York City, U.S. 427m / 1,401ft 67

While the Central Park Tower has reached its full height, parts of the interior are still undergoing construction. The price of luxury apartments in the complex start at $7 million for a two-bedroom, just in case you had any extra change lying around.

In fact, the illustrious New York City holds four of the top five buildings on the continent. However, a nod also goes to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago, an imposing office building which held the title of world’s tallest building for 25 years, until the Petronas Towers were erected in Kuala Lumpur.

Europe: Russia’s Reign

The top five tallest buildings in Europe can all be found in Russia. What’s more, those from Moscow are all clustered within a single towering business district known as “Moscow-City”.

Building City, Country Height # Floors
Lakhta Center 🇷🇺 Saint Petersburg, Russia 462.5m / 1,517ft 87
Federation Tower: East Tower 🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia 373.7m / 1,226ft 101
OKO: South Tower 🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia 354.1m / 1,161ft 85
Neva Tower 2 🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia 345m / 1,132ft 79
Mercury City Tower 🇷🇺 Moscow, Russia 338.8m / 1,112ft 75

This begs the question—why doesn’t Europe build more skyscrapers? There’s an interesting historical reasoning behind this. As North America’s new age ideals and influence on the world stage grew, European cultural values focused on preserving heritage.

Of course, with globalization, things have changed somewhat, and major financial centers of London, Paris and more boast unique skylines of their own.

Oceania: The Views Down Under

Australia’s buildings unsurprisingly dominate the tallest ones in the region. In the surfer’s paradise, Q1 on the Gold Coast has a twist in its design—literally. Its architecture is loosely based on studies of ribbons moving in the wind, as they wrap around the tower.

Building City, Country Height # Floors
Q1 🇦🇺 Gold Coast, Australia 323m / 1,058 ft 78
Australia 108 🇦🇺 Melbourne, Australia 316.7m / 1,039 ft 100
Eureka Tower 🇦🇺 Melbourne, Australia 297m / 974.4ft 91
Crown Sydney 🇦🇺 Sydney, Australia 271.3m / 889.1ft 75
Aurora Melbourne Central 🇦🇺 Melbourne, Australia 270.5m / 889.1 ft 92

The Eureka Tower has a fascinating story behind it, too. It’s named after the 1854 Victorian gold rush, with elements of the building reflecting this history—from a gold crown to a red stripe for revolutionary bloodshed.

South America: Views From the Top

The tallest buildings in South America are mainly residential, and often found in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela—but Chile is the one standout exception to this rule.

Building City, Country Height # Floors
Gran Torre Santiago 🇨🇱 Santiago, Chile 300m / 984ft 62
Yachthouse Residence Club Towers 1 and 2 🇧🇷 Balneário Camboriú, Brazil 281m / 922ft 81
Alvear Tower 🇦🇷 Buenos Aires, Argentina 239m / 784ft 54
Infinity Coast 🇧🇷 Balneário Camboriú, Brazil 235m / 771ft 66
Parque Central Complex: East Tower 🇻🇪 Caracas, Venezuela 225m / 738ft 59

Gran Torre Santiago is a retail and office complex, and the largest shopping mall across Latin America. It’s often considered the heart of Chile, and built to hold its ground steadfastly in the earthquake-prone country.

Africa: Budding Buildings

Located in South Africa’s largest city, The Leonardo is the jewel of Johannesburg. The tallest building in Africa was also designed by an architectural team of mostly women.

Building City, Country Height # Floors
The Leonardo 🇿🇦 Johannesburg, South Africa 234m / 768ft 55
Carlton Center 🇿🇦 Johannesburg, South Africa 223m / 732ft 50
Britam Tower 🇰🇪 Nairobi, Kenya 200m / 660ft 31
Ponte City Apartments 🇿🇦 Johannesburg, South Africa 173m / 568ft 54
UAP Tower 🇰🇪 Nairobi, Kenya 163m / 535 ft 33

For African nations, these tallest buildings mean much more than just breaking engineering records. In a journal article, it’s posited that skyscrapers can act as a symbol of power and the continent’s drive towards modernity.

Future Superstar Skyscrapers

A few more mammoth buildings are expected to rise up in the next couple years. Saudi Arabia’s 167-floor Jeddah Tower, while currently on hold, could someday take over the first place crown.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s set to outdo itself—and compete directly with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom Tower is inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and is proposed to break the 1 kilometer-high (or 0.6 mile) mark not yet achieved by any building.

Who knows what greater heights we could scale this century?

Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves.

—Adrienne Clarkson, Former Governor General of Canada

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