Part of what shapes a city is its people. And while these impressive locales can lay claim to scenic beauty and fascinating history, they're also home to some of the smartest people in the country. Here are the top seven brainiest cities in the country, based on the percentage of residents who have college degrees, the number of cultural activities available (such as museums and plays), and literacy levels of its residents.


1. Seattle.

Home to 40 educational institutions, 20 libraries, the largest percentage of residents who hold bachelor's degrees (52 percent) and second largest percentage who hold advanced degrees (nearly 21 percent), Seattle tops our list of brainiest city in the country. A number of high-profile companies have helped place Seattle on the map, but few can deny that it's Microsoft and Starbucks that are largely responsible for this city's infamy. Microsoft's creator, Bill Gates (otherwise known as the richest man in the world) has a home that is said to be worth over $110 million. Need we say more?



2. Washington, D.C.

From the White House and the Smithsonian museums to the FBI and prestigious Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. is home to some of the most famous and historical landmarks in the world. It's comforting to know that the residents of our nation's capital and the center for our government are also some of the most educated in the country. Of residents ages 25 and up, 44 percent hold bachelor's degrees, and nearly 24 percent hold advanced degrees. Additionally, Central Connecticut State University's study ranked D.C. as the fifth most literate city in the country.



3. San Francisco.

Nestled into the southern part of this city by the bay is Silicon Valley-the country's leading high-tech hub-and nearly half of San Fran's residents (age 25 and up) carry a bachelor's degree, the second highest in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Mix in nearly 17 percent of residents with advanced degrees and a population teeming with cultural and ethnic diversity, and it's no surprise that San Francisco has earned one of the top spots on our list. 



4. Boston.

The largest city in New England, Boston is also considered to be the cultural and economic center of this entire region. The home for prestigious universities, such as Harvard and Cambridge, attracts superior brain power from all over the globe. In addition, Beantown ranks fifth for most cultured city, tenth for most literate, and twelfth for percentage of residents with bachelor's degrees. Not too shabby. 



5. Denver.

A mecca for outdoor sports fanatics, the mile high city also draws distinguished intellects. Not only was Denver ranked as the fifth most literate city in the country, it almost cracks the top ten for percentage of residents who hold a bachelor's degree (41 percent). As for culture? More than 60,000 Americans put Denver at the fifteenth spot, so if you thought that all this city has to offer is steep ski slopes and climbing rocks, think again.



6. New York City.

Arguably the financial capital of the world, it's no coincidence that 30 percent of New York residents hold a bachelor's degree-and this number nearly doubles in the borough of Manhattan. Wall Street is also overflowing with advanced degrees, with nearly 27 percent of residents touting one. But finance isn't the only field that lures ambitious scholars to New York. Career opportunities in the fine and performing arts, publishing, and advertising industries draw some of the brightest, most driven, and creative people to the city that never sleeps. Don't forget the museums, theaters, and diversity: The results of a 2007 and CNN Headline News poll deemed New York the most cultured city in the U.S.



7. Minneapolis.

One of Minnesota's twin cities, Minneapolis boasts more of the nation's top companies (such as Target and Pepsi) per capita than any other U.S. city. It has the fifth highest percentage of residents ages 25 and over who have received bachelor's degrees. Still not totally convinced of this spot's intellectual prowess? A study done by Central Connecticut State University analyzed six key indicators of literacy (including newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, and library resources) and ranked Minneapolis as the most literate city in the country.