Published on 4 Dec 2012 Sections

Where are the best and worst places to live in the world?

Ongoing turmoil is blamed for African and Middle Eastern countries being named as the worst places to live in the world, with European cities the best.

Best and Worst Cities (Ciaran Hughes)

The survey from consultancy company Mercer found that, of the ten worst places to live in the world, seven are in Africa and two are in the Middle East. Port-au-Prince in Haiti, repeatedly battered by natural disasters, also makes the worst ten.

At the other end of the spectrum, eight out of the top ten best places named by the company are in Europe. Three of the cities – Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf – were in Germany and Vienna, in Austria, came out on top.

The worst place to live in the world, according to the index, is Baghdad. The city has been repeatedly hit by bomb attacks and shootings throughout 2012.


Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, said: “Many countries continue to experience violence through political demonstrations that have sometimes developed into massive uprisings and led to serious instability within the region.

“Countries such as Syria and Mali have seen their quality of living levels drop substantially.”

But in Europe, Mr Parakatil said, people “continue to have high quality of living as a result of a combination of increased stability, rising living standards and advanced city infrastructures.”

However, he said turmoil in Europe had begun to cause problems. One of the lowest ranking European cities was Athens, were there has been an outpouring of public anger at the austerity measures being brought in by the country’s beleaguered government.

Ben de Pear editor of Channel 4 News and formerly Foriegn News Editor, on the 'world's worst cities':
"Of the ten supposed 'worst' cities in the world, I've spent time in eight of them, seven in Africa. It would be easy to say they all share the following; poverty, overcrowding, corruption, and heat, but I remember them all differently. Here are my personal observations on three of them:

Antananarivo is an amazingly exotic jumble of architecture and people that is a cross section of Europe Asia and Africa. It is hilly, feels medieval with tiny streets and alleys running from grand french colonial buildings, and you can get amazing steak and chips like in France. I stumbled across the launch of the new beaujolais in a downtown hotel and you could have been in France. I have never been anywhere like it anywhere else.

There is a battered neon sign on the hill overlooking Bangui akin to the one in Hollywood but a quarter of the size to remind all below where they are. It is almost the only thing lit at night. There are few paved streets and we stayed in a catholic mission with no electricity and it was baking hot. The centre of town is very tricky; you are not allowed to walk on the same side of the road as the Presidential Palace, or some of the main ministries or it is said, you will be shot.

As soon as you arrive in Lagos people are shouting at you. As soon as you start shouting back you start enjoying it. The roads are well paved but it takes ages to go anywhere. The music and nightlife is amazing but you need a chaperone. The hotels and western restaurants are really expensive. It is on an island but you wouldn't want to swim in the sea surrounding it it looks like a muddy soup. Everybody cares greatly about their appearance, education, family, and music.

In the UK, London and Birmingham were ranked as the top two cities for quality of life, followed by Glasgow and Aberdeen. London was 38th globally, ahead of New York which is at 44 on the list.

The survey covers 221 cities and ranks them on 39 different factors, such as “infrastructure” and “personal safety”.

Kigali-based film maker Eric Kabera and Gatete Kevin-Thierry had this to say about their city: 

"Once settled-in it won’t matter if you are cycling on Jali hilltop or Nyabugogo valley, or if you are comfortably reading a novel at the brand new public library in Kacyiru, you will instantly buy water, electricity, make bank transactions from your cell phone, or withdraw local and foreign currency from an ATM in every 1k diameter, 24/7.

If you are into sports however, you might never leave again! The athletic city will challenge you with its hilly climbs and steep slops, your mountain bike will be your best friend and the Kigali walking club your sect.

In Kigali you will find love. Destiny will make it that her path meet yours as you take an evening walk along the artificial lake in Nyarutarama. For the non-superstitious type, your soul mate will be waiting for you at the "dinner en blanc" event, or in the Kigali fashion week. Just get the info on what's up in Kigali at The Newtimes’ week-end proggy column, or inquire from any cool young Rwandan at your office, hotel lobby or neighbourhood shop.

When you do, take that special girl to a picnic on Mount Rebero's Mera Neza English garden, where they sky meets the earth. She will be so into you afterwards that she will agree to meet-up later for a pizza at Papyrus, for sushi at Zen or for fish at Chez Lando.

If you play it cool, she might even accept to go for a dance later at K-club. You better know your thing on the dance floor… if you don't, that's ok, you can take salsa classes on Thursdays at Pasadena in Gikondo, or learn Congolese moves at Makumba in Nyamirambo every evening. Ah Congolese moves, they will change you…

If you are like me, slow warm-up style, don't go straight to the disco, drop in first for jazz night at Top Tower Hotel on your way to K-club. If the jazz groove doesn't help you win her heart, the screensaver-like view of Kigali night-sky from the top floor of the hotel definitely will… dude, trust me.

Now you are ready to go to K-club! Oh wait, if you had a little more than usual and you are driving, you might wanna forget K-club and walk slowly to Planet nightclub just up the road, very cool club too. As the night winds up, don't worry to walk your special lady home; Kigali by night is perfectly safe everywhere. There will be a policeman or a soldier discreetly standing in every corner, he will not address you but will be happy to direct you if you are lost, and walk you home if you are tipsy.

If you are worn out from all those moves, take a moto and enjoy the fresh air as you go back home don't forget to wear your helmet, the moto driver will remind you anyway, before starting his bike's engine… The next morning you will walk-up with a smile on you face and butterflies in you heart, the only low will be the hang over in your head. Thankfully I have just the cure for you: its called banana-brochette followed by beach volley and bowling at Mamba club; gets busy at around ten am on Sundays. Time to page you girl… Alright san, welcome to Kigali have a nice day!

Do you live in any of the places named? What do you think of the list? Tweet your views to @Channel4News.