Auckland, New Zealand (Photo by Partha Narasimhan on Unsplash)

Six of the top ten most liveable cities in the world are located in New Zealand or Australia, where tight border controls have allowed residents to live “relatively normal lives”, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (The EIU) bi-annual Liveability index on Wednesday (9 June).

Auckland in New Zealand topped the rankings, replacing Vienna, which fell to the 12th position.

The index ranks 140 cities across five areas – stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure – in which the results seem to be affected by the cities’ approach in dealing with the global pandemic.

It noted that Auckland rose to the top of the rankings “owing to its successful approach in containing the COVID-19 pandemic”, which allowed its public venues to remain open, and the city to score “strongly on a number of metrics” including education, culture and environment.

Wellington, the New Zealand capital, has also gained from this relative freedom, rising to joint fourth place in this year’s ranking.

The Japanese city of Osaka ranks second, followed by Adelaide, Australia, in third.

Australian cities—Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane—appear in the top ten, with Sydney in 11th place.

Head of global liveability at the EIU, Upasana Dutt, said the cities that have risen to the top of the rankings this year are “largely the ones that have taken stringent measures to contain the pandemic”.

“The tough lockdown and tight border controls imposed by Asia-Pacific countries such as New Zealand and Australia allowed their societies to re-open earlier and enabled residents to enjoy a lifestyle that looked similar to pre-pandemic life,” said Ms Dutt.

Singapore also rose to the 34th spot this year, after the country slipped three places to 40th in the EIU’s Liveability index last year.

The EIU stated that cities in the Asia-Pacific region scored below the average of 73.09 recorded before the pandemic began, with an average score of 68.6.

European and Canadian countries fared particularly poorly in this year’s edition, which caused by the heightened stress on healthcare resources during the second wave of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Damascus, the capital of Syria, remains the world’s least liveable city, as the effects of the civil war in Syria “continue to take their toll”.

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