The World's Most Livable and Unlivable Cities

01.07.21 05:47 PM Comment(s) By BMI

By: Jasdeep Sandhu

Recently the Economist Intelligence Unit released the top 10 most livable cities in the world. The list was created off of the Global Liveability Index, which depends on five factors; stability, healthcare, culture, environment and education/infrastructure. In the previous list, we saw a tremendous Canadian presence, with Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto ranking 5th, 6th and 7th in 2019, respectively. However, this year it appears Canada has fallen off the list entirely, with the majority of the cities being made up from cities in Oceania. The overarching difference between the cities that were contenders before and the ones that made the list this year boiled down to the countries which had the best Covid-19 response. The leaders of New Zealand and Australia were quick to deal with the Pandemic and effectively contained the problem, whereas Canada’s delayed response ultimately led to it’s downfall. Hence the list contains the cities which made the best comeback.

The Most Livable Cities of 2021




Change compared to Pre-Covid-19


Auckland, New Zealand



Osaka, Japan



Adelaide, Australia



Wellington, New Zealand



Tokyo, Japan



Perth, Australia



Zurich, Switzerland



Geneva, Switzerland



Melbourne, Australia



Brisbane, Australia


Skyline of Auckland, New Zealand
The correlation between Quality of Life and the Global Livablity Index is apparent, as Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand all ranked in the top 10 countries with the highest quality of life in 2021. This list alternatively depends on eight factors; purchasing power, safety, health care, cost of living, property price to income ratio, traffic commute time, pollution and climate. According to USNews, Canada ranks first place even after the debilitating impact of the Pandemic. However, other sources claim Canada’s ranking has fallen into the middle of other developed nations, sitting at a mere 20th spot. This brings up the question, why with it’s “high quality of life” has Canada become so “Unlivable”? As the islands in the Oceanic region appeared to be relatively untouched compared to the USA and Canada, they had time to overtake us.

To properly assess the rankings lets take a look at the worst on the list, coming in the bottom 10, places, 131st-140th.

The Most Unlivable Cities of 2021



Change compared to Pre-Covid-19


Caracas, Venezuela



Douala, Cameroon



Harare, Zimbabwe



Karachi, Pakistan



Tripoli, Libya



Algiers, Algeria



Dhaka, Bangladesh



Port Moseby, Papua New Guinea



Lagos, Nigeria



Damascus, Syria


Picture taken in the Eastern Ghouta District of Damascus, Syria
Opposed to our top 10 cities, this list has hardly changed under the pressures of the Pandemic, therefore, what makes these cities so unlivable compared to our most livable? 

1.War and Conflict

Syria, Libya, Pakistan, and Nigeria are currently ranked in the top 15 most war-torn countries, with each country recording more than 1800 war-related deaths in 2019. Sadly many of these are routinely children under the age of 18. This contributes to the low safety scores and the decreasing each of their average mortality age.


Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Papa New Guinea are all facing a shortage of healthcare. This can be blamed on the scarcity of health care professionals, deficiency of resources and inequality of service dependent on pay. Thus, these countries make it really hard for a regular class citizen to get quality healthcare, which can cause premature deaths and widespread illness. 


For a while now, the countries with the worst quality of education have all been located in Africa. While we have seen some improvement, other countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have slipped down.  Education is a generational impacter, if the child's parents have a certain level of education, the entire family can be risen out of poverty, whereas if both parents skipped post-secondary, this can result in the children to also not attend. In these countries, education inequality is also an issue, girls are much less likely to be literate, and majority of the government money goes towards education funding for the richer citizens, renewing the cycle of poverty.
When we look at the poorest nations, Canada’s issues seem miniscule. Even if the Pandemic has knocked us out of the top 10 spots on the most livable cities, a bounce-back is imminent, and we should be grateful. The quality of life gap between Canada and other developed nations as compared to those at the bottom is unimaginebly large, and musnt be forgotten. 

The most mind-boggling fact? 

All of us in “developed nations” have the power to personally improve the quality of life in the most unlivable cities. We can lift these countries out of a cycle of poverty by; paying for a girls education so her kids can too can be educated, or pay for a fathers medical bill so he can access health care which he previosuly couldn’t due to healthcare inequality. The cost is simple, low, and transparent. 
Children attending school in New Zealand compared to children that can’t afford education in Nigeria


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