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WORLD BUSINESS

Zurich the best for city living

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Zurich topped 350 cities around the globe for its quality of living.

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(CNN) -- Zurich is the world's most livable city, according to a global quality of living survey conducted by human resources consultant Mercer.

It is closely followed by Geneva and Canada's Vancouver.

Cities in Canada, Europe and Australia/New Zealand dominate the 2006 rankings, which look at 39 factors in the following categories: political, economic, cultural and social environment, health and medicine, schools and education, public services and transport, recreation, consumer goods, housing and natural environment.

More than 350 cities were ranked in the annual survey, which uses New York City as the benchmark on 100 points. New York ranked 46th, down one position from last year.

Almost half the top 30 scoring cities this year are in Western Europe. The top U.S. city is Honolulu, followed by San Francisco and Boston.

The top cities in Asia are Singapore, 34th, and Tokyo, 35th, followed by Yokohama and Kobe. Hong Kong ranks 68th and Shanghai is 103rd. Mumbai and New Delhi rank 150th.

New Zealand's two main cities, Auckland and Wellington, rank 5th and 12th globally. The Australia cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane rank 9th, 17th, 21st, 29th and 31st respectively.

Mercer makes the point that a city with a high quality of living index is a safe and stable one. But that might mean that it lacks the spice of life that makes cities such as London, Paris, Rome and New York a magnet for many people.

London, for example, ranks 39th on 101.2; Paris is 33rd on 102.7; and Berlin is 16th on 105.1. Other rankings are Madrid 45th 100.1; Tokyo 35th 102.3; Hong Kong 68th 95.4; Toronto 15th 105.4; San Francisco 28th 103.2; Singapore 34th 102.5; Melbourne 17th 105.0.

According to the Mercer survey, the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai should experience rapid improvement in quality of living in the coming years, mainly because of international investment.

Though Indian cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore generally rank lower than their Chinese counterparts, they are also showing signs of development.

In Eastern Europe, standards are on the rise, particularly for those countries that have joined the European Union recently. Budapest, Ljubljana, Prague, Vilnius, Tallin and Warsaw are among the cities to benefit.

In the Middle East, Cairo has fallen nine places to 131st with a score of 71.2, due to political turmoil and terrorist attacks.

For the third straight year, Baghdad ranks as the least attractive city for expatriates, with a score of 14.5.

The top 10 cities in 2006 are:

1. Zurich, Switzerland 108.2

2. Geneva, Switzerland 108.1

3. Vancouver, Canada 107.7

4. Vienna, Austria 107.5

5. Auckland, New Zealand 107.3

6. Dusseldorf, Germany 107.2

7. Frankfurt, Germany 107.0

8. Munich, Germany 106.8

Equal 9. Sydney, Australia 106.5

Equal 9. Bern, Switzerland 106.5

Source: Mercer quality of living survey, April 2006

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