An 18-year-old student from the Czech Republic won the Miss World 2006 beauty contest in a show that produced belles, glitz and glamour. We take a look at the history of the competition.

History of Miss World

- In 1970, feminist protesters threw flour bombs during the live event at London's Royal Albert Hall, temporarily scaring host Bob Hope.

- The first winner from the United States, 1973's Marjorie Wallace, was forced to resign because of her high-profile serial dating.

- The 1974 winner Helen Morgan resigned four days later after it was discovered she was a single mother.

- In 1976, several countries went on a boycott, because the pageant included both a Caucasian and African representative for South Africa. In yet another shut-out for the nation for its apartheid policy, South Africa competed for the last time in 1977, before it was welcomed back in 1991 as that policy disintegrated.

- The 1980 winner Gabriela Brum of Germany resigned one day after winning, initially claiming her boyfriend disapproved. A few days later it emerged that she had been forced to resign after it was discovered that she posed naked for a magazine.

- In 1996, wide-scale protests took place in Bangalore, India over the hosting of the beauty contest.

- Just days after her 1998 crowning, Israel's Linor Abargil revealed that she had been raped only two months before the pageant. One of the highlights of her year was seeing her accused rapist convicted.

Did you know?

In 2000, Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1994 from India, was named the Most Beautiful Miss World of All Times — receiving a score of 9.911.

The longest reign by any Miss World titleholder belongs to the first winner, Kicki Håkansson, which lasted for 475 days (almost 16 months).

The shortest reign was that of Gabriella Brum, which lasted just 18 hours before she resigned in 1980.

Officially, the shortest reign, from the time of her crowning until she passes the title to her successor, will belong to 2005 winner Unnur Birna, who would have reigned for just 294 days (less than 10 months) by the time a new Miss World is named on September 30, 2006.

The world is not enough

Several Miss World's alumna have been cast as Bond girl or made appearances in the Bond movies:

Claudine Auger (France, first runner-up, 1958), Michele Mok (Hong Kong, 1958), Eva Rueber-Staier (Austria, Miss World 1969), Denise Perrier (France, Miss World 1953), Mary Stavin (Sweden, Miss World 1977), Michelle Yeoh (Malaysia, 1983), Ruddy Rodriguez (Venezuela, finalist 1985), Lou-Anne Ronchi (Australia, second runner-up 1984) and Halle Berry (USA, finalist 1986).

History in the making

The 55th staging of Miss World in Sanya, China, in 2005 meant that for the first time, all the major beauty pageants were staged in the same continent (Asia): Miss Universe in Thailand, Miss Earth in the Philippines, and Miss International in Japan.

Warsaw in the spotlight

Warsaw, not always a top tourist destination, was determined to show off its charms to a huge television audience when it hosted the Miss World beauty contest.

"Warsaw was the capital of beauty this week," Warsaw Mayor Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said at a reception with the 104 Miss World contestants.

Poland was the first of East Europe's former communist countries to host Miss World and, in keeping with its conversion to capitalism, is aiming to cash in on the exposure.

A Polish think tank calculated the pageant, billed as television's most watched event, will help draw 5 million extra tourists to Poland by 2010, creating 20,000 jobs and boosting the country's economic output by 1 percentage point over the next four years.

City officials hope many of those tourists will stop in Warsaw, which was mostly destroyed in the second World War and is shunned by many visitors who flock to the Czech capital, Prague, and Krakow in southern Poland.

The two-hour show was held in Warsaw's Palace of Culture, a skyscraper built by the Soviet Union as a gift to Poland and regarded by many Warsaw residents as a Stalinist eyesore.

Feminists dismiss the pageant as a sexist "cattle show" demeaning to women, yet Miss World, founded by a British businessman in 1951, remains popular.

This year, fans casting ballots through mobile phones and the internet chose eight of 16 finalists. Winners of sports, swimsuit, talent and best charitable work competitions also got automatic berths. The former Miss World was Iceland's Unnur Birna Vilhjalmsdottir. She won the title last December in the Chinese resort island of Hainan.