A new survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit assessing the "liveability" of 127 cities worldwide has found Vancouver to be the most attractive destination. The survey shows cities in Canada, Australia, Austria and Switzerland as the most ideal destinations thanks to a widespread availability of goods and services, low personal risk and an effective infrastructure.
Jon Copestake, editor of the report, comments: "In the current global political climate, it is no surprise that the most desirable destinations are those with a lower perceived threat of terrorism."
The Economist Intelligence Unit's LIVEABILITY RANKING, part of the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, assesses living conditions in 127 cities around the world by looking at nearly 40 individual indicators grouped into five categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. The survey gives a rating of 0%-100% and judges a city with a lower score to be the more attractive destination. A rating of 20% is where real problems are seen to begin - anything over 50% places severe restrictions on lifestyle.
Is west the best?
- Sixty-three cities - almost half of those surveyed in total - fall into the top liveability bracket. This reflects the fact that many global business centres have a developed infrastructure and widespread availability. Still, the overwhelming majority of cities in the top liveability range are based in western Europe and North America.
- Only three cities in eastern Europe fall into this bracket along with 13 cities from Asia. All cities in North America and western Europe have ratings below 20%. In contrast all cities in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East exceed this.
- The worst destinations in the survey are those of Algiers and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea - where many aspects of daily life present challenges. All ten cities where the liveability index exceeds 50% are in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.
Europe: A closing gap?
Despite the clear difference in living standards between eastern and western Europe, the expansion of the EU and the strong economic development experienced in eastern Europe since the break-up of the Soviet Union is helping the east catching up with the west.
The three cities in eastern Europe with the best liveability indices (Budapest, Bratislava and Prague) are found in EU accession countries. Factors such as improved transport and communications infrastructure along with greater availability of goods, services and recreational activities have played a part in slowly bringing these cities into line with the west. Much less desirable are states beset by corruption and instability further to the east. Tashkent and Baku in the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan score among the worst in the region with ratings of 42% and 38% respectively. Both countries are prone to corruption and civil unrest, with the threat of petty crime, terror and a lack of general amenities also playing a part. Istanbul, in EU accession-hopeful Turkey, has an unenviable liveability rating of 39% - in part due to recent terror attacks including the 2003 attacks which specifically targeted expatriates.
Conversely, Austria's capital Vienna shares joint second spot with Geneva, Switzerland. Both cities have a rating of 2%, with their climates, a factor beyond human control, as the main pitfall to living there. Athens, the least liveable destination in Western Europe, also suffers from climate issues, although its infrastructure also serves to bring its ranking down. Despite this Athens still occupies the top tier of the Economist Intelligence Unit's liveability scale.
Canada betters neighbour
With low crime, little threat from instability or terrorism and a highly developed infrastructure, Canada has the most liveable destinations in the world. With a rating of just 1% (as a result of a small threat from petty crime) Vancouver is the highest ranked city of all 127 surveyed. A further two Canadian cities (Montreal and Toronto) feature in the top five with ratings of just 3%. All 4 cities surveyed score well in all respects.
Although higher crime rates and a greater threat of terror puts US cities below those of Canada, US cities are still among the world's most liveable. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are the joint best scoring cities in the United States (7%), in joint 26th place in the global ranking. A lack of availability of recreational activities and certain infrastructural shortfalls put Lexington as the least liveable US city surveyed, in 56th place-although its rating of 13% is still low.
Latin America dogged by instability
Although no Latin American city surveyed manages to present ideal living conditions, neither do any fall into the category where extreme difficulties are faced - although Bogota in Colombia (117th) comes close with a rating of 49%. Bogota, like Caracas, Venezuela, has been subject to high profile levels of instability, unrest and violence. The two cities score 90% and 75% respectively in terms of stability due to widespread guerrilla warfare in Colombia and violent civil unrest in opposition to Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez.
With scores of 20%, Montevideo in Uruguay, Santiago in Chile and Buenos Aires in Argentina (joint 64th) offer the best living conditions in Latin America. This is largely thanks to relatively efficient infrastructure and the availability of goods and services. These are closely followed by US commonwealth territory San Juan in Puerto Rico (23%), ranked 68th and Latin America's longest serving unbroken democracy, San Jose in Costa Rica (24%) ranked 70th.
Asia : The best and worst of both worlds
Alongside Canada, Australia is has some of the most liveable places in the world. Melbourne is ranked joint second overall with a rating of just 2%. Perth, Adelaide and Sydney join Zurich, Toronto and Calgary in joint 5th place with ratings of 3%. Just below this is Brisbane in joint 11th place. Elsewhere in the region cities in Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan all offer a good standard of living, with a humid climate bringing scores down slightly.
Just North of Australia, however, a very different picture emerges, with Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, returning the joint worst score of all 127 cities surveyed. With a rating of 66%, Port Moresby suffers from high crime rates, corruption, instability, low availability of entertainment, goods or services and a dilapidated infrastructure. The proximity of Port Moresby to Australia highlights the two-tiered nature of liveability in Asian countries, with a number of well developed urban centres next door to countries where less favorable conditions apply.
The influx of investment in China alongside the increased availability of goods following WTO entry has helped all six Chinese cities surveyed perform relatively well, scoring between 24% and 30%. Alongside them are other emerging business centres such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Less developed cities, especially those where unrest or terrorism is an issue, fare much worse - with Phnom Penh (55%), Karachi (60%) and Dhaka (61%) all falling into the worst liveability category.
Africa and the Middle East: A long way to go
Africa and the Middle East, where cities have an average rating of 40%, fares worst of any region. Recent instability in the Middle East has made the threat of terror a key issue - although in Israel this is offset by a generally high level of development making Tel Aviv (23%) the best destination surveyed in the region.
Strong anti-crime measures in many Arab states are also a stabilising factor, although a low crime rate can be outweighed by the many cultural restrictions in place. As a result, only Dubai (25%) and Abu Dhabi (26%) in the United Arab Emirates and Manama in Bahrain (27%) have similar liveability ratings to Israel.
Cities perform much more poorly overall in Africa. The civil unrest and volatile nature of many countries, and the current political and economic climate mean cities such as Harare (53%), Lagos (59%), Abidjan (54%) and Douala (53%) prop up the ranking as some of the worst destinations. Alongside these are Tehran in Iran (52%), where the threat of war has been enhanced by concerns over the country's nuclear programme. With a rating of 66% Algiers, in Algeria, comes joint bottom of the liveability scale with Port Moresby. Although the threat of civil war has diminished slightly, the country has a ravaged infrastructure and has very little available by way of entertainment or goods and services to ease the cultural restrictions in place.
For further information please contact:
Economist Intelligence Unit
Jon Copestake: +44 (0)20 7830 1175 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or see our website at wcol.eiu.com.
About the survey
The Economist Intelligence Unit's liveability ranking is an expansion on the methodology of previous "Hardship" surveys that have been published. In addition to the factors that were previously attributed to specifically causing hardship a number of other factors have been included to give a more rounded impression of how liveable a city is.
The survey takes over 40 factors into consideration which are weighted across five different categories: Stability; Healthcare; Culture & Environment; Education; and Infrastructure. Across the survey a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data are used, which are combined to give an overall Quality of Life Index rating. Each indicator is given a rating of between one and five, where one means there is no impact and five means the factor is extremely challenging. These are then weighted to produce an index, where 0% means the a city is exceptional and 100% means it is intolerable.