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World’s most livable city in 2015
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World's most liveable city in 2015 is ...

It's usually all about the top cities to live in when the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) publishes its annual Liveability Ranking -- but this year the picture is rather gloomier. And that's because of a surge in global instability over the past 12 months, from terrorist shootings in France and Tunisia, to ongoing conflicts across the Middle East, Ukraine and Libya.

Flinders Station in Melbourne, the world's most liveable city

In any event, the top of the list remains the same, with Melbourne (in Australia) taking the top spot for a fifth year running, with Vienna (Austria), Vancouver (Canada), Toronto (Canada) and Adelaide (Australia)/Calgary (Canada) (both cities tied at 5) completing the "top five most liveable cities" in 2015.

According to the EIU, these cities have "relatively few challenges to living standards," and enjoy a good infrastructure, healthcare system and a low murder rate.

The ruins of Jupiter Temple in Damascus, the least liveable city

Unsurprisingly, Damascus remains the least liveable city, with Syria embroiled in a bloody civil war.

But elsewhere, there's been a marked deterioration in previously stable regions, such as Europe and North America, caused by events such as The Charlie Hebdo attacks in the heart of Paris and civil unrest in a number of U.S. cities.

The EIU ranking, which provides scores for lifestyle challenges in 140 cities worldwide, shows that since 2010 average liveability across the world has fallen by 1%. While this may seem marginal, it highlights that 57 of the cities surveyed have seen declines in liveability over the last five years.

Shichahai in Beijing, China

By contrast, some regions have bucked the trend -- seven Chinese cities improved their ranking over the last 12 months largely because of a lower threat from civil unrest. China's top-ranked city, Beijing, moved up five places to 69 in the global ranking.

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

But Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests last year resulted in a 3.2% decline in liveability. Though the protests were largely peaceful, some parts of the city were brought to a standstill for several months. Nonetheless, Hong Kong, nicknamed "Asia's World City" still remained three places above city rival Singapore -- 46th and 49th place respectively.

The Singapore Flyer

However, the editor of the EIU survey had this to say,

“Both cities can still lay claim to being in the top tier of liveability where few, if any, aspects of life are restricted. This has not been the case in other parts of the world, with instability and unrest features undermining the scores of a number of cities globally.”

(All images - credit: Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licence)

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