General night view of the Auckland skyline as seen from the new Park Hyatt Hotel in the city’s Viaduct Pool area on May 16, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images News Getty Images
As the world continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the capital city of Auckland in New Zealand has been named the most habitable city in the world by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
This is largely due to the successful handling of Covid-1
New Zealand imposed a strict blockade across the country for several weeks last year to slow the spread of the virus. It has also closed its international borders to most passengers.
Asia-Pacific cities dominated the top 10 of the rankings this year, although the pandemic has reduced overall vitality around the world.
The top 10 most comfortable cities to live in the world and their results according to The Global Liveibility 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 Viability Index ranks cities based on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors in five broad categories: stability, health, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Due to the pandemic, the EIU added new indicators such as stress on health resources, as well as restrictions on local sporting events, theaters, music concerts, restaurants and schools.
“Big shake” in the rankings
The impact of Covid-19 is pretty obvious in the rankings, according to Simon Baptist, chief global economist at the EIU.
“There was quite a shake-up in terms of, certainly the top 10, but also throughout the rankings, based on the situation with Covid-19,” he told CNBC.
Cities that were blocked or jumped in cases during the study period saw a decrease in their performance on several criteria, which led to many European cities falling, Baptist explained.
This includes the Austrian city of Vienna, which has consistently topped the list over the past few years. This year, however, he failed to break into the top 10 and ranked 12th.
On the other hand, cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan remain relatively open, with good service availability, while their health systems are sustainable due to the relatively small number of cases, he added.
The Hawaiian capital Honolulu won the highest growth in the index, moving up 46 places to finish 14th for its efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus and the rapid spread of vaccines. Among other cities, Taipei finished 33rd, while Singapore ranked 34th.
Asia vs. Europe
On average for the region, Asia ranks well below North America and Western Europe, according to the EIU. Damascus in Syria remains the least habitable city – Syria celebrated 10 years of civil war this year.
“Asia has some of the most habitable cities in the world, and there are some of the least habitable,” Baptist said. While cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan dominated the top 10, places such as Dhaka, Bangladesh, Karachi, Pakistan and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital, have lain close to the bottom and have been doing so for some time, he added.
Baptist said the list is updated twice a year.
Since the first study period ended this year, some of the largest cities in the Asia-Pacific region have jumped in Covid-19 cases, including Melbourne and Tokyo. On the other hand, European and North American cities are aggressively expanding their vaccination programs and are in the process of opening up.
Australia and New Zealand have not yet reopened their borders to most travelers, a factor that the Baptist could influence the future ranking of their cities.
“It will be interesting to see there if things in Europe and the US have opened up more, especially when it comes to international travel. But (if) things are not in Australia and New Zealand yet, then we can find the ranking of Australian and New Zealand’s cities are suffering little, “Baptist said, adding that he expected European cities to potentially show great improvement by the next study period.