BAGHDAD: Mercer’s 2010 annual quality of life survey of 221 cites ranked the Iraqi capital as the worst place in the world to live, and the ongoing war and sectarian violence likely weighed heavily in this rating. A lack of security and political stability continue to undermine Baghdad’s quality of living, Mercer found. Iraqi people, seen here through a shrapnel hole, walk past the site of a car bomb in Baghdad on May 13 after an explosion ripped through a popular cafe the night before. Karim Kadim/AP
BANGUI: The capital of the Central African Republic ranks second to last on Mercer’s 2010 Quality of Living Survey, but well ahead of Baghdad. Mercer conducts the ranking to help governments and multinational companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments, which means that employment here deserves more compensation than work almost anywhere else. (Cities are ranked against New York as the base city, with an index score of 100.) Here, military personnel participate in a parade to mark International Labor Day, May 1. Serge Dibert/Panapress/Newscom
N’DJAMENA: The capital of Chad has been affected by Sudan’s humanitarian crisis since at least 2001. As of 2008, the country hosted more than 280,000 refugees from the Sudan's Darfur region, 55,000 from the Central African Republic, and more than 170,000 internally displaced persons. A heavy presence of Chad soldiers are seen cruising the streets of the capital N'djamena with guns and mortars in this February 2008 file photo. Sarah Simpson
KHARTOUM: The capital of Sudan, whose president is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes, falls fourth to last on Mercer’s cities index. The average temperature hovers at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A two-decade-long conflict in southern Sudan killed 1.5 million people, and, later, an eight-year-long conflict in Darfur has killed some 300,000. Like Khartoum, many of the African cities lack of adequate modern infrastructure combined with relatively high air pollution. Here, young girls wash clothes in the Nile River in Khartoum on May 4. Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters
TBILISI: The capital of Georgia was nearly under siege in 2008, when Russian tanks rolled to the outskirts of the city during a war over South Ossetia. Despite the low ranking, a New York Times travel article in May 2009 said: 'Spectacularly frenetic and stylishly gritty, Tbilisi was left essentially untouched by the recent war, and it’s easy to see why. Built along the steep banks of the Kura River (also called the Mtkvari), the city is encircled by snowcapped mountains and has narrow cobblestone streets barely wide enough for a Mini Cooper to squeeze through.' People gather in Tbilisi for a Good Friday mass at the Holy Trinity cathedral on April 2. David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters
AUCKLAND: Australians can say what they will about New Zealand’s inferiority, but Auckland tied for fourth place with Vancouver, on the global cities index of the best places to live. (It lands five spots ahead of Sydney, Australia, which was ranked as Australia’s most livable city). Auckland is home to some 1.4 million people, including the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. Auckland's famous landmark, the skytower, is seen here in the background during the early evening in March 2007. Newscom/FILE
VANCOUVER: The best city to live in the Western Hemisphere ranked fourth for the second year in a row. Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal were the only other cities in the Americas to crack the top 25. Vancouver hosted the most recent Winter Olympics in February, with a giant set of green, lit-up Olympic Rings on display in Vancouver's harbor. Jonathan Hayward/AP/FILE
GENEVA: The lakeside city – and European headquarters of the United Nations and Red Cross – ranked just behind its fellow Swiss city Zurich for the second year in a row. Europe has 16 cities amongst the world’s top 25 cities for quality of living. It is also ranked the world's sixth most important financial center by the Global Financial Centers Index. And it is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, though Moscow remains higher. Christoffe Jonin of the FF Blue Sky Team is seen here doing a parachute jump out of a helicopter above Lake Leman and the city of Geneva during the final day of the Fetes de Geneve in August 2009. Frederic Lucas/Reuters/FILE
ZURICH: The largest city in Switzerland is relatively small, with a population of just 400,000 in the metropolitan area (another million live in the suburbs). Like Geneva, it’s a lakeside city, sitting on the banks of Lake Zurich. The financial center is one of the richest cities in Europe, with some of the lowest taxes in the world. It boasts a number of notable museums, including the Kunsthaus Zürich, one of the largest collections of Classic Modern Art in the world. Zurich ranks second worldwide for the second year in a row. Here, Swiss acrobat Freddy Nock balances on a tightrope in front of the towers of the Grossmuenster in Zurich on April 30. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
VIENNA: The former seat of the Habsburg Empire has sat at the top of the list for two years in a row. The world’s top three most livable cities, says Mercer, are all in Central Europe. The rankings are based on a point-scoring index, which sees Vienna score 108.6 and Baghdad 14.7. Vienna is seen here on April 18 during the Vienna City Marathon as thousands of athletes pass a bridge over the Danube river shortly after the start. Ronald Zak/AP
Seven of the world's 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America, says a new Gallop survey. Panama is No. 1 on the list. People in 148 nations were asked: Were they well-rested, had they been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment the previous day.
Michael Weissenstein, Associated Press /
December 20, 2012
(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)
The world's happiest people aren't in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren't in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Canada, with its chart-topping percentage of college graduates, doesn't make the top 10.