When it comes to the world’s most liveable cities, no country can top Canada.
Once again, three Canadian cities have claimed the top 10 spots in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Livability Index 2023, more than any other country on the list.
Vienna, Austria retained its top spot in the 2023 ranking and its success is attributed to a “winning combination” of good culture and entertainment, reliable infrastructure, stability, and excellent education and healthcare sectors.
However, two Australian cities, Sydney and Melbourne, broke into the Top 5 and knocked Calgary out of the No. 3 spot last year. Alberta’s largest city fell to seventh place this year, tied with Zurich, Switzerland, and now sits between Vancouver (#5) and Toronto (#9).
Calgary’s downfall can likely be attributed to what the EIU calls “a return to order” following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, Australian cities suffered a huge drop in the rankings after a particularly infectious strain of COVID took hold of the island continent.
“They have seen their scores improve in the health care category since last year, when they were still affected by the waves of covid that stressed their health care systems,” the research firm said.
However, Canada was the only country in the world where three of its cities made the Top 10. Australia and Switzerland were the only other countries to post more than one city at the top of the list.
In fact, the overall index has now reached a 15-year high, thanks to the recovery from the pandemic. The average index score is now 76.2 out of 100, up from 73.2 a year ago.
“Education was strengthened with the return of children to schools along with a significantly lower burden on hospitals and health care systems,” the report said.
The EIU ranked 173 cities on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors in five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. Access to medical care, the amount of green spaces, cultural and sports activities, crime rates and infrastructure are some of the factors considered in the rankings.
top 10 cities
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Sydney, Australia
6. Zurich, Switzerland
7. Geneva, Switzerland
9. Toronto, Canada
10. Osaka, Japan
10. Auckland, New Zealand
Other big comebacks and slip-ups
“The removal of COVID-related restrictions has boded well for global livability in 2023,” Upasana Dutt, director of the EIU Livability Index, said in a statement.
The relaxation and removal of pandemic restrictions in Asia-Pacific cities, many of which faced harsh lockdowns in pursuit of a zero-COVID strategy, meant big jumps in livability scores.
Eight of the top 10 rises in the overall index were Asian cities, including Hong Kong, which rose 13 places from last year to rank 61st most liveable in the world.
New Zealand’s Wellington moved up 35 places to rank 23rd, while Auckland moved up 25 places to land at number 10. Hanoi, Vietnam moved up 20 places to 129th.
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Of the top 10 drops in the rankings, three come from cities in the UK (Edinburgh, Manchester and London) and two from the US: Los Angeles and San Diego.
A drop in stability
And while scores rose across the board in almost every category, the EIU said stability had suffered a “marginal” decline due to “instances of civil unrest in many cities amid a cost-of-living crisis, as well as an increase in crime in some cities.”
“Public order strains and economic hurdles have also increased crime in some cities, and this will continue to be a risk for the future,” said Barsali Bhattacharyya, EIU Industry Research Manager.
“All of this suggests that the stability scores on our livability index are unlikely to recover quickly.”
Little change in minimum habitability
The bottom of the list was little changed this year, with cities facing civil unrest, war and conflict.
The Ukrainian city of kyiv returned to the list this year, after being excluded last year due to the Russian invasion. He is now in the bottom 10.
“The war in Ukraine and the resulting economic and political disruption are affecting livability in many European cities,” the report read.
“Unsurprisingly, this is most notable in the Ukrainian capital kyiv, which rejoins the survey this year.”
Algiers in Algeria, Tripoli in Libya and Damascus in Syria were ranked as the top three least liveable cities in the world.
LOWER 10 CITIES
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
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