It's Official: Damascus Is the Least Livable City in the World

Poll shows that overall livability across the world has fallen since 2009; Palestinian Intifada, Arab Spring and fighting in Ukraine are among conflicts that underline continuing fallout.

Michael Roddy
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Buildings damaged during battles between Syrian troops and rebels stand along an empty street in Mleiha, southeast of downtown Damascus, Syria, Aug. 15, 2014.
Buildings damaged during battles between Syrian troops and rebels stand along an empty street in Mleiha, southeast of downtown Damascus, Syria, Aug. 15, 2014.Credit: AP
Michael Roddy

REUTERS - Melbourne tops the ranking as the world's most pleasant city to live in for the fourth year running, but an Economist Intelligence Unit poll also finds that turmoil in Ukraine and the Middle East have pushed other cities down the list.

Vienna, Vancouver and Toronto captured 2nd, 3rd and 4th places in the list of 140 cities released on Tuesday. Bottom was Damascus, capital of war-torn Syria, while just above it in ascending order were Dhaka in Bangladesh, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Lagos, Nigeria.

The Economist survey also includes a listing of cities whose "liveability" has declined most in the past five years.

Damascus again fares worst, recording a 28 percent decline in five years but others on the list include the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow, both declining by 3.3 percent, Sofia down 3.5 percent and Athens dropping by 3.7 percent.

Kiev, capital of Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are battling Ukrainian forces in the east of the country, dropped 17.8 percent, the survey found and is ranked 124th of 140.

"The ranking...shows that since 2009 average liveability across the world has fallen by 0.7 percent led by a 1.3 percent fall in the score for stability and safety," the EIU said in a statement.

"While this may seem marginal, it highlights that over 50 of the cities surveyed have seen declines in liveability over the last five years.

"Recent conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have underlined continuing fallout from a decade of destabilising events ranging from the war in Iraq to the Palestinian Intifada and the Arab Spring," it added.

The EIU's survey assesses the liveability of cities based on a number of key factors, including stability and the quality of healthcare, culture, the environment, education and infrastructure.

Melbourne's skyline. Credit: Donaldytong

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