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Singapore surpasses Hong Kong on world’s most liveable city list for first time

SINGAPORE — The Republic has leapfrogged Hong Kong in a global ranking of liveable cities for the first time, as it clinched its highest-ever placing of 35th out of 140 cities.

A birds eye view of the Marina Bay skyline in Singapore. Photo: Skyshot

A birds eye view of the Marina Bay skyline in Singapore. Photo: Skyshot

SINGAPORE — The Republic has leapfrogged Hong Kong in a global ranking of liveable cities for the first time, as it clinched its highest-ever placing of 35th out of 140 cities.

The annual report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) cited Singapore’s improving educational achievements as the main factors behind its 11-place improvement. In Asia, Singapore was ranked third, after Tokyo and Osaka, respectively.

"Although 10 ranking places now separate Hong Kong (45th, down two spots) and Singapore, the difference between them is marginal at just 1.6 per cent, and both comfortably sit in the top tier of liveability where there are few, if any, challenges to lifestyle,” said the editor of the survey Jon Copestake.

“Singapore’s jump up the rankings can be attributed to consistent and impressive improvements in educational attainment, which has delivered a perfect score for education and pushed the overall score for the city-state above 90 per cent for the first time since the survey began.”

(Click to enlarge. Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability survey)

Melbourne in Australia topped the charts for the seventh consecutive year as the most liveable urban centre among the cities surveyed, followed by the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Three Canadian cities, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary took the third, fourth and fifth spots respectively, with a marginal score dividing the cities in the closely-fought ranking.

Cities ranked at the bottom include Kiev in Ukraine, and Damascus in war-torn Syria.

The EIU cited increasing instability across the world, such as the threat of terrorism in Europe, when explaining the volatility in the scores of many cities.

Over the past six months, 35 of the 140 cities surveyed had changes in their rankings.

This figure rose to 44, when tracked over the past year. “The ongoing weakening of global stability scores has been made uncomfortably apparent by a number of high-profile incidents that have shown no signs of slowing in recent years,” the EIU said in the report.

“While not a new phenomenon, the frequency and spread of terrorism have increased noticeably and become even more prominent.”

Cities such as Manchester in the United Kingdom and Stockholm in Sweden saw their scores decline as a result of recent, high-profile terrorist attacks. Other issues that threaten stability include concerns over geopolitical stability in Asia, the migration crisis in Western Europe and Brexit, the EIU added.

“Meanwhile, even a relatively stable country such as the United States has seen mounting civil unrest linked to the Black Lives Matter movement and the policies proposed by the 45th US President Donald Trump,” the report noted. Overall, the world is becoming less stable when a five-year view of the global average scores is taken. In 2012, the average global stability score was 73.4 per cent, while this year’s score is 71.4 per cent.

Global business centres are vulnerable too, the EIU said, and these cities can be victims of their own success with overstretched infrastructure causing higher crime rates.

“New York, London, Paris and Tokyo are all prestigious hubs with a wealth of recreational activities, but all suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems than are deemed comfortable.

“The question is how much wages, the cost of living and personal taste for a location can offset liveability factors,” the report added.

The EIU’s liveability survey rates each city over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: Stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure.

(Cick to enlarge. Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability survey)

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