Canberra: Zurich in Switzerland has again come top of a list of 215 cities as the location with the best quality of living while Luxembourg was ranked the safest - and Baghdad, Iraq, came last on both counts.
Management consultancy Mercer said European cities dominated the top slots in its 2008 WorldWide Quality of Living Survey, with Zurich retaining its 2007 rank, followed by Vienna in Austria in second place while another Swiss city, Geneva, came third.
The survey also has a second list ranking safety. In fourth place was Vancouver, Canada, and Auckland, New Zealand, came fifth.
Germany also had three cities in the top 10 with Dusseldorf at number 6 and Munich and Frankfurt both at number 7. Prague was at number 71 the highest-ranking eastern European city and Minsk in Belarus the lowest ranking European city at number 183.
"Europe dominates the list in terms of infrastructure, health and political stability," a senior researcher from Mercer, Slagin Parakatil, said in a statement. The rankings are based on 39 key quality-of-living determinants such as political stability, schooling, socio-cultural environment, recreation, housing and natural environment. Honolulu was the highest entry for the United States coming in at number 28 followed by San Francisco at 29, Boston at 37, Chicago and Washington D.C. at 44 and New York at number 49.
The highest ranking for Britain was London, at number 38, while the Australian city which ranked highest was Sydney coming in at number 10. In Asia, Singapore came highest, ranked number 32, two places above a year ago, and slightly higher than Japanese cities such as Tokyo, which came in 35th.
Hong Kong and Beijing retained their 2007 rankings of 70 and 116 respectively. In Africa, Cape Town, at No. 80, was ranked as the city with the best quality of life. The cities with the lowest quality of living were listed as Ndjamena, Chad at No. 211, then Khartoum, Sudan; Brazzaville, the Congo Republic and Bangui, the Central African Republic. Baghdad retained its position at the bottom of the table, ranked No. 215.
Mercer said the survey, which is conducted to help governments and companies place employees on international assignments, has another list identifying cities with the highest personal safety ranking based on internal stability, crime, law enforcement and relationships with other nations. Luxembourg topped this list followed by Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich which were all equally placed at No. 2.
Baghdad again came last as the world's least safe city along with Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Karachi in Pakistan, Nairobi in Kenya, and Bangui. Mercer researcher Parakatil said it was key for businesses trying to set up in new markets to look at local costs and the quality of living to encourage expatriate staff to move there.
"Personal and family safety is of paramount importance when employees consider opportunities overseas. Cities that are, or are perceived as, unsafe may experience difficulties in attracting the best people and skills," Parakatil said in a statement.