A general nighttime view of the Auckland skyline from the new Park Hyatt Hotel in the city’s Viaduct Basin on May 16, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images
While the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the metropolis of Auckland in New Zealand has been named the world’s most livable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
This is mainly due to the country’s successful handling of Covid-19, which, according to the EIU, made it possible to keep schools, theaters, restaurants and other cultural attractions open during the survey period from February 22 to March 21, 2021.
New Zealand put in place a strict nationwide lockdown for several weeks last year to help slow the spread of the virus. It also closed its international borders to most travelers.
Cities in the Asia-Pacific region dominated the top 10 rankings this year, even as the pandemic worsened general quality of life around the world.
The top 10 most liveable cities in the world and their scores according to The Global Liveability Index 2021 are:
- Auckland, New Zealand (96.0)
- Osaka, Japan (94.2)
- Adelaide, Australia (94.0)
- Wellington, New Zealand (93.7)
- Tokyo, Japan (93.7)
- Perth, Australia (93.3)
- Zurich, Switzerland (92.8)
- Geneva, Switzerland (92.5)
- Melbourne, Australia (92.5)
- Brisbane, Australia (92.4)
The Quality of Life Index rates cities on the basis of more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors in five major categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Due to the pandemic, the EIU added new indicators such as the stress on health care resources and restrictions on local sporting events, theaters, music concerts, restaurants and schools.
‘Big Shock’ in Rankings
The effects of Covid-19 were pretty evident in the rankings, according to Simon Baptist, EIU’s global chief economist.
“There was quite a big upheaval in terms of the top 10, but also in the overall ranking based on the Covid-19 situation,” he told CNBC.
Cities that were locked down or seen an increase in cases during the survey period saw a decrease in scores across multiple criteria, causing many European cities to fall behind, Baptist explained.
This also includes the Austrian city of Vienna, which has consistently ranked at the top in recent years. However, this year he did not manage to get into the top 10 and finished in 12th place.
On the other hand, cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan remain relatively open with good service availability, while their health systems are resilient due to a comparatively small number of cases, he added.
The Hawaiian capital, Honolulu, was the biggest winner on the index, climbing 46 places to 14th place due to its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and the rapid adoption of vaccines. Among other cities, Taipei ranked 33rd while Singapore ranked 34th.
Asia vs. Europe
According to the EIU, Asia ranks well behind North America and Western Europe on a regional average. Damascus in Syria remained the least livable city in the world – Syria raged 10 years of civil war this year.
“Asia has some of the most livable cities in the world, but also some of the least livable,” said Baptist. While cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan dominated the top 10 positions, places like Dhaka, Bangladesh, Karachi, Pakistan and Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, stayed at the bottom and have been doing so for some time, he added added.
Baptist said the list is updated twice a year.
Since the end of the first survey period this year, some of the top cities in the Asia-Pacific region have seen spikes in Covid-19 cases, including Melbourne and Tokyo. On the other hand, European and North American cities have aggressively launched their vaccination programs and are opening up.
Australia and New Zealand have not yet reopened their borders to most travelers – a factor that, according to the Baptist, could affect the future ranking of their cities.
“It will be interesting to see there if things have opened up more in Europe and the US, especially in terms of international travel. But (if) things in Australia and New Zealand still not, then maybe we can find the ranking Australian and New Zealand cities are suffering a bit, “Baptist said, adding that he expects European cities to see potentially big improvement by the next survey period.