As American and British cities crumble under the weight of the decline of once great empires, the capital city of what, until 1917, was actually the world’s greatest empire, has taken the top spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s 2018 Global Livability Index.
Indeed, once the seat of the 600-years-strong Hapsburg Empire, most of Europe was ruled from the palaces of Vienna. Alas, after being on the wrong side of World War I, that Empire was permanently broken up, and Austria has spent a century in (mostly) peaceful political insignificance. And, as of now, very high living standards.
The survey is conducted each year by the EIU, and takes into consideration such factors as stability, healthcare, education and infrastructure, as well as culture and environment. Hardly surprisingly, no U.S. city cracks the top ten, which is in the overall dominated by Canada, Japan and Australia, whose Melbourne lost the top spot to the Austrian capital this year.
Suffering through seven years of civil war, Syria’s Damascus turns out to be the world’s least livable major city, lagging far behind Dhaka, Lagos and Karachi. The biggest decliners were Kiev, post-hurricane San Juan and Damascus; the greatest improvers were Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Hanoi and Belgrade.
Paris came in at a respectable 19th, but the West’s other major urban financial/culture centers did not fare very well, with London ranking 48th, New York City 57th – proving that a bleeding edge art scene, an endless supply of trendy restaurants, unrivaled cultural institutions, and a concentration of celebrity and power do not a livable city make.
Though, we pretty much knew that already.
Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 World’s Most Livable Cities
- Vienna, Austria – Rating: 99.1
- Melbourne, Australia – Rating: 98.4
- Osaka, Japan – Rating 97.7
- Calgary, Canada – Rating 97.5
- Sydney, Australia – Rating 97.4
- Vancouver, Canada – Rating 97.3
- Toronto, Canada – Rating 97.2
- Tokyo, Japan – Rating 97.2
- Copenhagen, Denmark – Rating 96.8
- Adelaide, Australia – Rating 96.6