The world's best cities

Cape Town has sub-Saharan Africa's best quality of life (86th worldwide) and Johannesburg (96th) it's second best, according to Mercer consultants' city rankings for 2010 that it released on Wednesday.

Vienna has the world's best quality of life and Baghdad the worst, with wildly popular but less organized cities like New York and London falling between.

Mercer consultants' city rankings for 2010 lists Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Vancouver and Auckland as the top five urban living destinations.

Paris comes in only at 34, London at 39, Tokyo 40, Madrid 48 and New York at a lowly 49.

The list, aimed at government or multinational human resources departments, does not pretend to rank the most exciting or energetic cities, instead concentrating on stability, safety and public services.

"Mercer evaluates local living conditions in all the 420 cities it surveys worldwide. Living conditions are analyzed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories," the company says.

These include crime levels, banking services, personal freedoms, sanitation, schools, transport, and climate.

On these criteria, cities known chiefly for cleanliness and calm come out well.

Switzerland scores three times in the top 10 with the addition of Bern at number nine. Germany also has three in the top 10: Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.

In 10th place is Sydney, closely followed by New Zealand's Wellington at 12.

Auckland, sharing fourth place, leads Asian-Pacific cities, followed by Sydney, Wellington, and Melbourne at 18 and Perth at 21. Singapore keeps its place as highest-ranking Asian city at 28, followed by Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama in Japan.

Bottom of the Asian heap are Dhaka in Bangladesh at 206 and the ex-Soviet cities of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Dushanbe in Tajikistan at 209 and 210.

Nothing though can match Baghdad that remains dead last.

"A lack of security and stability continue to have a negative impact on Baghdad's quality of living and its score remains far behind that of Bangui (27.4) in the Central African Republic which is second to last," Mercer says.

Of the 420 cities surveyed, Cape Town comes in at 30 in the Mercer consultants' 2010 Eco-City Ranking while Johannesburg is 54th. The Eco-City Ranking considers water availability, water potability, waste removal, sewage, air pollution and traffic congestion to rank.

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