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The Austrian capital, Vienna, has once again become the most livable city in the world, according to an annual report by The Economist.

Vienna snatched the top spot from the New Zealand city of Auckland, which fell to 34th place due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, according to the Economist intelligence unit’s report released on Thursday.

“Vienna, which slipped to 12th place in our ranking at the start of 2021 with the closure of its museums and restaurants, has since rebounded to the top spot, the position it held in 2018 and 2019,” the report said.

“Stability and good infrastructure are the main assets of the city for its inhabitants, supported by good health care and numerous opportunities for culture and entertainment.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was not included this year after Russia invaded the country in late February, while the Russian cities of Moscow and St Petersburg have fallen in the rankings due to ‘censorship’ and the impact of Western sanctions.

Europe had six of the top 10 cities.

The Austrian capital was followed by the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and Switzerland Zurich. The Swiss city of Geneva came sixth, Frankfurt in Germany seventh and Amsterdam in the Netherlands ninth.

Canada also did well. Calgary came in third, followed by Vancouver in fifth and Toronto in eighth.

The Japanese from Osaka and the Australian from Melbourne shared 10th place. The French capital, Paris, came in 19th, 23 places higher than last year. The Belgian capital, Brussels, was 24th, just behind Canada’s Montreal.

Auckland’s drop in the rankings reflects the changing landscape of the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, with vaccination allowing many societies to reopen.

Although he was downgraded for his Covid restrictions this year, they were responsible for his top spot in 2021, with the economist saying at the time: ‘New Zealand’s strict lockdown allowed their society to reopen and allowed citizens of cities like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle that resembled life before the pandemic.

More bluntly, political journalist Thomas Coughlan then remarked that: “I guess there’s no pandemic here, so it’s technically easier to be alive here than to be dead somewhere else.”

In this year’s ranking, the UK’s capital, London, was the 33rd most livable city in the world, while Barcelona and Madrid in Spain ranked 35th and 43rd respectively.

The Italian city of Milan ranked 49th, the American city of New York 51st and the Chinese city of Beijing came 71st.

The Lebanese capital, Beirut, ravaged by a port explosion in 2020 and grappling with a crippling financial crisis, did not feature in the ranking of business destinations.

Neither did Kyiv, after the February 24 Russian invasion forced The Economist to drop its investigation of the city. The Russian capital, Moscow, saw its livability ranking drop 15 places, while St. Petersburg slipped 13 places.

“Increased censorship accompanies the ongoing conflict,” the report notes. “Russian cities are additionally experiencing restrictions on culture and environment due to Western economic sanctions.”

Other Eastern European cities have been deemed less stable following “increased diplomatic tensions” over the war in Ukraine.

The capital of war-torn Syria, Damascus, has retained its place as the least livable city on the planet.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report




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