There are more than just these two! Apparently, there are four big
international beauty pageants.
They are both competitions where unmarried women are chosen, on the
basis of certain standards, as "the most beautiful girl in the world".
Yes, unmarried - if they get married, they lose their crown even if
they won it, like what happened to the first Miss Universe, the
Finnish Armi Kuusela - before her year has ended, she married a
Armi Kuusela - Miss Universe 1953
As you can see, the first Miss Universe was held in 1952 (they always
crown for a following year), and was in fact held because Catalina
swimwear wanted to have a pageant, where their swimsuits would be
presented. The company is owned today by Donald Trump.
Miss World began a year earlier, in London, as a bikini wearing
contest (again, in order to market a product). It was supposed to be a
one-time event, but when the organisers heard about the initiative to
start Miss Universe in 1952, they decided to make it an annual event.
It is much bigger - both in attendance (from over 200 places) and in
viewership - than Miss Universe.
In general, women are chosen for Miss Universe in a national beauty
pageant, which is held by a national organisation that has a Miss
Universe franchise. The same for Miss World, and in fact, many
contestants participated in both. In Miss World there had been a phone
There are other two major international events.
The first is "The International Beauty Pageant" ("Miss International",
held annually in Japan). I must quote Wikipedia here, because it is so
"Also called a "Festival of Beauty" and even the "Olympics of Beauty",
this pageant is not based on looks alone. Contestants are expected to
serve as "Ambassadors of Peace and Beauty", showing tenderness,
benevolence, friendship, beauty, intelligence, ability to take action,
and, most importantly, a great international sensibility.
The ultimate goal of the Miss International beauty pageant is to
promote world peace, goodwill, and understanding."
(SOURCE: Miss International, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_International>).
The youngest, and third-largest contest is Miss Earth.
These pageants are sometimes marketed together as the "Big Four"
There is also this one:
Miss Globe International
(these guys seem to have missed the point. The point is not a beauty
contest. The point is marketing of products and media rights, which
they seem to be very bad at).
And this one:
Miss Exotic World Pageant
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Exotic_World_Pageant> (I believe
that they are not so hypocrite to take the crown away from an unwed
mother; a participant who got married; or a transvestite one, like the
Ford Agency holds Supermodel of the World, which might be a small
contest, but one that - unlike the others - actually ensures a
contract with Ford (most of the former Miss World or Miss Universe are
Supermodel of the World
I hope this answers your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarification on this answer before you rate it.