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Why is Vienna no longer the ‘most liveable’ city in the world?

Why is Vienna no longer the 'most liveable' city in the world?
A view of the city skyline from Vienna's Stephansdom. Photo: Roland Geider (Ogre)/Wikicommons
After three consecutive years in first spot, Vienna has fallen twelfth in the latest global liveability rankings. Why?

Vienna is no longer the most liveable city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranking in the the “Global Liveability Index”.

After topping the list since 2017, Vienna is now only ranked twelfth for quality of life.

READ MORE: Vienna ‘world’s most liveable city’ for second year in a row

The top three cities are the New Zealand port city of Auckland, followed by Osaka in Japan and Adelaide in Australia. Damascus in Syria occupies last spot on the list in 140th. 

Auckland’s first place was thanks to the “successful approach in containing the Covid-19 pandemic”, wrote the authors

This is the first time the rankings have been carried out since the start of the pandemic. 2020’s list was cancelled, meaning the previous figures are from 2019. 

Why has Vienna fallen so far?

As with many questions over the past 15 months, the answer has been “coronavirus”. 

Regarding Vienna, the authors said the second wave of the virus and the subsequent lockdowns had been particularly significant in the city’s fall to 12th. 

The EIU research unit found the coronavirus pandemic led to a global collapse in quality of life in the ranking, particularly affecting cities in Europe, due to lockdowns, a lack of cultural offerings and burdens on the health system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global liveability. Cities across the world are now much less liveable than they were before the pandemic began, and we’ve seen that regions such as Europe have been hit particularly hard.

The cities that have risen to the top of the rankings this year are largely the ones that have taken stringent measures to contain the pandemic.

New Zealand’s tough lockdown allowed their society to re-open and enabled citizens of cities like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle that looked similar to pre-pandemic life.

The ranking is based on the health system, education, culture and infrastructure along with social security, political stability and the crime rate.

Which cities were hardest hit?

While the coronavirus pandemic has spread around the globe, the impact has not been uniform. 

In Europe, Asia, Africa and much of North and South America, Covid-19 has forced lockdowns and put great strain on healthcare facilities. 

READ MORE: So why is Vienna the most liveable city in the world?

In some of the world’s more isolated countries however, the impacts have been comparatively minimal. 

In particular, Australia and New Zealand have been comparatively unscathed by the pandemic, while several Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have also been able to avoid the worst parts of the pandemic. 

Six of the top ten cities were in Australia or New Zealand, with two more in Japan

The American city of Honolulu benefited from its relative isolation, rising by 46 places to 14th – the most of any city in the rankings. 

Zurich and Geneva were the only European cities that remained in the top ten.


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