The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index has hit a 15-year high with Vienna securing the top spot for the eighth time. Olivia Palamountain reports

Vienna has once again claimed the title of the “world’s most liveable city”, according to the latest edition of the Global Liveability Ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

This marks the eighth time in the past ten semi-annual surveys that the Austrian capital has secured the top position.

The rankings, based on factors such as stability, infrastructure, education, healthcare and culture, saw Vienna praised for its excellent combination of these attributes.

Copenhagen maintained its second-place ranking, while Australian cities Melbourne and Sydney made significant jumps to third and fourth place.

The Asia-Pacific region witnessed notable gains, with Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand soaring by 35 places (to 23rd position) and 25 places (to tenth place), respectively.

Hanoi in Vietnam also moved up by 20 spots t0 129th worldwide. These improvements were attributed to the recovery of economies in the region following the pandemic.

While the Middle East saw continued improvements in liveability, with Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia rising by five places, Western European cities, including Edinburgh, Stockholm, Los Angeles and San Diego, experienced a decline in rankings.

These cities failed to match the progress made by Asian counterparts, resulting in their slide down the list.

The top ten most liveable cities in 2023 (ranking numbers are the same where cities’ scores were identical)

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

3. Melbourne, Australia

4. Sydney, Australia

5. Vancouver, Canada

6. Zurich, Switzerland

7. Calgary, Canada

7. Geneva, Switzerland

9. Toronto, Canada

10. Osaka, Japan

10. Auckland, New Zealand

The ten least liveable cities in 2023

164. Douala, Cameroon

165. Kyiv, Ukraine

166. Harare, Zimbabwe

166. Dhaka, Bangladesh

168 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

169. Karachi, Pakistan

170. Lagos, Nigeria

171. Algiers, Algeria

172. Tripoli, Libya

173. Damascus, Syria

The survey, encompassing 172 cities, excluding Kyiv, highlighted the overall progress in liveability. The average index score reached 76.2 out of 100, representing a significant increase from 73.2 a year ago, marking the highest score in 15 years.

Healthcare scores demonstrated the most improvement, followed by gains in education, culture and entertainment, and infrastructure. However, stability saw a slight decline due to instances of civil unrest and an increase in crime in some cities, primarily attributed to cost-of-living issues.

Kyiv re-entered the survey after being forced out by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. However, the city’s score declined by 5.9 percentage points due to the impact of the war on stability, infrastructure, and general liveability. As a result, Kyiv joined the bottom ten cities in the index.

Damascus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya remained at the bottom of the list due to social unrest, terrorism, and conflict. However, scores for these cities and others in the bottom ten showed improvement as the effects of the pandemic diminished.

Upasana Dutt, head of liveability index at EIU, commented on the survey’s findings, emphasising the positive impact of the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions on education and healthcare systems. Dutt also highlighted the emerging prominence of developing economies in Asia and the Middle East and their potential to ascend the liveability rankings.

She said: ““Education has emerged stronger with children returning to schools, alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems, with some notable improvements in cities across developing economies of Asia and the Middle East.”

Despite the overall rise in liveability scores, caution was advised due to the decline in stability ratings. Factors such as civil unrest, inflation, dissatisfaction with working conditions, and occasional shortages of goods contributed to this decline. The challenges faced by cities in maintaining public order and managing economic headwinds may impact future liveability rankings.

As the world continues to face ongoing socio-political and economic shifts, stability scores in the Liveability Index are not expected to recover quickly, suggesting potential risks ahead for global liveability rankings.