Vienna again ranked world’s nicest city to live in, and Baghdad the worst.

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vienna schonbrunn palace. image courtesy:Through My Own Lens

Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river, has topped consulting firm Mercer’s list of cities offering the highest quality of life for the eighth year in a row, while Baghdad is again considered the worst place to live.

Vienna is the capital and largest and primary city of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria.

The survey of 231 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.

Despite increased political and financial volatility in Europe, many of its cities offer the world’s highest quality of living and remain attractive destinations for expanding business operations and sending expatriates on assignment, according to Mercer’s 19th annual Quality of Living survey.

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Vienna’s 1.8 million inhabitants benefit from the city’s cafe culture and museums, theatres and operas. Rents and public transport costs in the city, whose architecture is marked by its past as the centre of the Habsburg empire, are cheap compared with other western capitals.

Vienna occupies first place for overall quality of living for the 8th year running, with the rest of the top-ten list mostly filled by European cities: Zurich is in second place, with Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9), and Basel, a newcomer to the list, in 10th place. The only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland (3) and Vancouver (5). The highest ranking cities in Asia and Latin America are Singapore (25) and Montevideo (79), respectively.

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Global centers London, Paris, Tokyo and New York City did not even make the top 30, lagging behind most big German, Scandinavian, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian cities.

Singapore was the highest ranked Asian city, at 25 while 29th-placed San Francisco was the United States’ highest entry. Top of the list in Africa was South Africa’s Durban at 87.

Switzerland’s Zurich, New Zealand’s Auckland, Germany’s Munich and Canada’s Vancouver followed Vienna in the top five of most pleasant cities to live in.

Baghdad was again ranked lowest in the world. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

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Six years into Syria’s bloody war, Damascus was ranked seventh from bottom, with Bangui in the Central African Republic, Yemeni capital Sanaa, Haiti’s Port-au-Prince, Sudan’s Khartoum and Chad’s N’Djamena filling out the end of the list.