AUSTRALIA and Canada have continued their dominance of the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Ranking, with the two countries sharing seven of the top ten spots according to the survey of 140 cities around the world and the lifestyle challenges they present.
For the fourth consecutive year, Melbourne remains the most liveable location of the cities surveyed, followed by the Austrian capital, Vienna, and Vancouver in Canada. However, the scores of the top ten cities are separated by less than two points, and range from Melbourne's winning score of 97.5 and Auckland's tenth-place score of 95.7.
In a summary of the results, the EIU states that some 64 cities (down to Santiago in Chile) are in the top tier of liveability, where few problems are encountered. "Although 16.8 percentage points separate Melbourne in first place and Santiago in 64th place, both cities can lay claim to being on an equal footing in terms of presenting few, if any, challenges to residents' lifestyles," it says.
The survey finds that only 20 cities, or around 14 per cent of surveyed cities, have experienced changes in scores over the past year. More than half of the changes taking place over the past 12 months were driven by deteriorating scores, with instability re-emerging as a key factor in influencing global scores.
For example, events in Ukraine have had significant knock-on effects for cities such as Kiev, Moscow and St Petersburg, while localised instability has also affected locations like Bangkok. The score of Damascus in Syria has continued to decline.
Cities recording improvements in their liveability scores are largely based in countries that have enjoyed periods of relative stability following significant falls in liveability. Tehran in Iran, Tripoli in Libya and Amman in Jordan have seen liveability levels recover slightly after sharper falls in previous years.
The EIU notes a correlation between the types of cities that sit right at the very top of the ranking, with those that score best tending to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.
"Eight of the top ten scoring cities are in Australia and Canada, with population densities of 2.88 and 3.40 people per sq km respectively. Elsewhere in the top ten, Finland and New Zealand both have densities of 16 people per sq km. These compare with a global (land) average of 45.65 and a US average of 32," the summary states.
"Austria bucks this trend with a density of 100 people per sq km. However, Vienna's population of 1.7m people is relatively small compared with the urban centres of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo."
To determine the liveability scores, each surveyed city is assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure.
Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. For qualitative indicators, a rating is awarded based on the judgment of in-house analysts and in-city contributors. For quantitative indicators, a rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a number of external data points.
The scores are then compiled and weighted to provide a score of between 1 and 100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal.
Top ten cities
- 1. Melbourne, Australia, 97.5
- 2. Vienna, Austria, 97.4
- 3. Vancouver, Canada, 97.3
- 4. Toronto, Canada, 97.2
- 5. Adelaide, Australia, 96.6
- 6. Calgary, Canada, 96.6
- 7. Sydney, Australia, 96.1
- 8. Helsinki, Finland, 96
- 9. Perth, Australia, 95.9
- 10. Auckland, New Zealand, 95.7
Bottom ten cities
- 131. Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, 45.9
- 132. Tripoli, Libya, 44.2
- 133. Douala, Cameroon, 44
- 134. Harare, Zimbabwe, 42.6
- 135. Algiers, Algeria, 40.9
136. Karachi, Pakistan, 40.9
- 137. Lagos, Nigeria, 38.9
- 138. Port Moresby, PNG, 38.9
- 139. Dhaka, Bangladesh, 38.7
- 140 Damascus, Syria, 30.5