Austria’s capital city, Vienna, is the most liveable city in the world according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Global Liveability Index. The index ranks cities based upon both qualitative and quantitative measurements, including stability, infrastructure, healthcare, education, and culture and environment.

After seven successive years as the most liveable city in the world, Melbourne has dropped to second in this year’s index. Despite Melbourne’s gains over the past six months in the liveability index, Vienna’s increases across all categories, especially stability, have helped the Austrian capital secure the top spot, according to the index. “The two cities are now separated by 0.7 of a percentage point, with Vienna scoring a near-ideal 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne scoring 98.4.,” reported the index.

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After Vienna and Melbourne, the other top most liveable cities in the world are Osaka (third), Calgary (fourth) and Sydney (fifth). In fact, Australia, Japan, and Canada possess eight of the top ten most liveable cities in the world, according to the index. Besides Vienna, only one other European city (Copenhagen) was included in the top 10. The liveability of European cities has been negatively affected by the increasing threat of terrorism, which has created security concerns across the continent.

Yet the index reports that European cities which have experienced recent terrorist attacks, such as Paris and Manchester, have witnessed an overall increase in their liveability rankings over the past year. “Of the top-ranked cities, Paris in France and Manchester in the UK recorded the biggest improvements over the past 12 months, both in overall scores and stability ratings,” said the index. “Whereas in the past, cities in Europe have been affected by the spreading perceived threat of terrorism in the region... the past six months have seen a return to normalcy,” found the index.

Meanwhile, civil war and terrorism are seen as the most destabilising threats, especially among the worst-performing cities included in the index. Damascus (140th), Dhaka (139th), Lagos (138th), and Karachi (137th) were the worst performing cities in this year’s index. In most cases, these cities, such as Damascus, have experienced sustained periods of violence, which have affected other categories related to liveability, according to the index.

“This is not only because stability indicators have the highest single scores but also because factors defining stability can spread to have an adverse effect on other categories,” found the index. As a result, instability can damage other categories related to liveability, such as infrastructure and education. Besides violence, cities, like Dhaka (139th) and Harare (135th), suffer from inadequate infrastructure, which has disrupted their overall liveability rankings, according to the index.

The index also identifies cities with the biggest improvements and decreases in liveability over the past five years. Abidjan, Hanoi, and Belgrade, have experienced the biggest improvements, while Kiev, San Juan and Damascus have witnessed the biggest decreases.