Most Canadians will proudly say they live in one of the best countries in the world, and now there are some hard numbers to back that up. In an annual survey ranking the top cities in the world for quality of life, a Canadian city is in the top five — and Canada dominates for North America in general.
Mercer, an international consulting company, puts out the survey to help multinational corporations that send their employees abroad evaluate the gap between their home and host city's living standards so they can compensate their workers fairly, according to a press release.
City characteristics taken into account to come up with the results include everything from social and cultural freedom to easily accessible medical services, education and public transit, along with a few more wider issues.
“Political instability, high crime levels, and elevated air pollution are a few factors that can be detrimental to the daily lives of expatriate employees their families and local residents .. Employers need a clear picture of the quality of living in the cities where they operate,” said Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer, in the release.
Of the top five-ranked cities globally, three were in Europe. Check out the top five and those at the bottom of the list in the slideshow below.
1. Vienna, Austria
Austria's capital is a rich cultural hub, full of museums, art galleries and opera houses. It also has an extensive public transportation system and is considered to be one of the safest cities of its size in Europe. The educational system is well-developed and pollution is relatively low. Vienna also <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/28/travel/melbourne-most-livable-city/" target="_blank">tied for second with Vancouver</a> in the Economist's 2013 ranking of most livable cities.
2. Zürich, Switzerland
The country's largest city is also the wealthiest in Europe, due to the high number of banks and international companies that call it home base. It has a sophisticated and widely-used public transit system, and there is virtually no political instability.
3. Auckland, New Zealand
The capital often makes it into top 10 city lists, loved for its warm climate, numerous job opportunities and world-class university.
4. Munich, Germany
Many multinational corporations call Munich home, and it is also respected for its arts galleries and massive festivals. The city's universities are also major science and research hubs.
5. Vancouver, British Columbia
Often regarded as the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/06/vancouver-most-expensive-city-to-live-economist_n_2631806.html" target="_blank">most expensive city to live in North America</a>, Vancouver has a lot of other things going for it: <a href="www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/02/19/vancouver-three-canadian_n_4816798.html" target="_blank">a warm climate</a>, a high standard of living and a variety of social services.
<strong><big>NEXT: The Bottom Five Cities In The World For Quality Of Living</big></strong>
223. Baghdad, Iraq
Ranked the city with the lowest quality of living in the world, Baghdad doesn't have much going for it right now. Due to the 2003 Iraq invasion, ensuing war and ongoing unrest between extremist groups, much of the city's buildings and infrastructure have crumbled. Continuing attacks by insurgents make the city very unsafe.
222. Bangui, Central African Republic
Bangui is currently mired in religious violence and has been since last March. Around 100,000 displaced people are currently living <a href="www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/19/3946032/heavy-fighting-near-c-african.html" target="_blank">near the city's airport</a> and grenade attacks, rapes and killings are common. There is a high level of corruption and poverty and many people are close to starvation.
221. Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Haiti's capital is still struggling with reconstruction efforts after the 2010 earthquake, which left hundreds of thousands dead and much of the city in shambles. Big issues include a high level of unemployment, lack of basic sanitation and crime.
220. N'Djamena, Chad
Also affected by violence in the nearby Central African Republic, N'Djamena is the capital of one of Africa's poorest countries and also the world's most corrupt, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13164686" target="_blank">according to the BBC</a>.
219. Sana'a, Yemen Arab Republic
Yemen has been embroiled in political unrest since 2011 and Sana'a is the target of ongoing terrorist attacks. Foreigners are generally discouraged from visiting. Prices of goods are high and crime is widespread.
The firm also breaks down the top five cities by continent.
In North America, Canadian cities came out on top. Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal clinched four of the five top spots, followed by San Francisco.
Each continent-specific ranking includes the city's global standing in brackets, and all four of the Canadian cities made it into the top 25.
The five bottom cities in North America were Mexico City, Detroit (which is currently bankrupt), St. Louis, Houston and Miami.
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