SANYA - BLONDE, blue-eyed American teenager Alexandria Mills won the Miss World crown for 2010 on Saturday, defeating more than 100 other hopefuls at a glittering ceremony in southern China.

Mills, an 18-year-old from the southern US state of Kentucky, wept as outgoing Miss World Kaiane Aldorino of Gibraltar placed the tiara on her head and led her to a diamond-shaped throne marking the pageant's 60th anniversary.

The 1.75m beauty in white - a professional model listed with the Elite Models agency - waved to the cheering crowd at the 2,000-capacity Beauty Crown Theatre in the resort town of Sanya on Hainan island.

During the two-hour competition, which annually draws a global television audience of about one billion, Mills said her month spent touring China with the other 114 Miss World hopefuls had made a 'big impact' on her life.

Botswana's Emma Wareus was second, and Venezuela's Adriana Vasini placed third in the pageant, which was first held in 1951.

The pageant got off to a colourful start with a performance by dancers and drummers from China's Li ethnic minority group, who mainly live on Hainan island, which was hosting the event for the fifth time in eight years.

Miss World crowned