|Top 5 cities: Quality of living
||Top 5 cities: Infrastructure|
- Vienna (1st)
- Zurich (2nd)
- Munich (4th)
- Düsseldorf (6th)
- Frankfurt (7th)
- Frankfurt (tied 2nd)
- Munich (tied 2nd)
- Copenhagen (4th)
- Düsseldorf (5th)
- London (tied 6th)
In general, Western Europe has seen fewer positive changes in quality of living compared with previous years. Despite this, it continues to enjoy the highest overall quality of living among world regions. Most Western European cities offer a high standard of infrastructure, excellent medical facilities, abundant shopping and recreational facilities, and a relatively safe and stable environment for locals and expatriates.
However, frequent strikes and anti-austerity protests took place in Madrid (down six slots in our ranking) and Lisbon (down three slots) in the past year. Some of these protests turned violent, with clashes between police and protestors. The unrest, spurred by economic woes, has caused a decrease in quality of living in these two locations. Protest and strike activity also occurred in other Western European capitals such as Athens, Rome, and Brussels, but none of these cities’ rankings changed from 2011 to 2012.
Overall, quality of living in Eastern Europe is lower than in Western Europe, but this sub-region continues its upward trend of recent years, with positive developments ranging from a wider variety of recreational activities in some cities to improvements in political stability in others.
Moscow’s quality of living increased as banking and medical facilities for expatriates improved in the Russian capital, among other factors.
Although Tbilisi, Georgia, remains the city in our ranking with the lowest quality of living in the region, it has witnessed improvement in internal stability this year.
Listen to Mercer's Slagin Parakatil (English and French) and Margit Kaiser (German) discuss the 2012 Quality of Living rankings for cities in Europe.
The quality of living in Damascus, Syria, has continued its declining trend. Syria has been in a state of civil war since March 2011, with the safety and security situation reaching a critical level in 2012. Military attacks, violent protests and general crime continue to pose grave risks for both locals and expatriates.
Since February 2011, Manama, Bahrain, has experienced frequent anti-government demonstrations, some involving thousands of protesters. Clashes with security forces led to the deaths of several people. As a result of the deepening unrest posing serious safety risks for both locals and expatriates, the city fell 13 places in the ranking in 2012.
The security situation in Baghdad, Iraq, remains extremely tense. Crime rates are rampant and the threat of terrorist attacks remains very high, while infrastructure is still poor. But Baghdad has experienced better regional integration and relations with other countries.
Tripoli, Libya, was also severely affected by a political uprising. The Libyan civil war lasted for much of 2011, and, although the situation has improved since the overthrow of the government, it remains highly volatile. Tripoli’s airport and many of its international schools have reopened following temporary closure in 2011.
In March 2012, a coup d’état was launched by military putschists in Bamako, Mali. A new government has since been formed, but the country remains divided. Protests have escalated into rioting in Bamako. With these greater safety risks and limitations on personal freedom, Bamako’s quality of living declined significantly in 2012 (dropping 12 points in our ranking).
Egypt is one of many countries that had its leader ousted in the wake of the Arab Spring movement. The city of Cairo witnessed many violent protests in 2011, and these have continued into 2012. A new president was elected in June 2012, but the political situation remains volatile, and the quality of living has declined (down six points in our ranking) as a result of the instability and security risks.
Alongside security concerns, expatriates posted in Brazzaville, Congo, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, face severe health risks. Outbreaks of water- and insect-borne diseases occur regularly, such as the April 2012 outbreak of cholera reported in Brazzaville. The ongoing conflict in Democratic Republic of the Congo accentuates the overall low ranking of Kinshasa.
Positive changes were noted in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The end of the 2010–2011 civil war brought greater stability and an easing of restrictions on personal freedom. Despite these developments, overall quality of living remains very low, both on a worldwide and regional scale. So its improvement in rank from 213 to 211 still leaves it in the bottom 5% of our ranking.
The quality of living in Maputo, Mozambique, has markedly increased (up 16 slots) thanks to a variety of factors, such as improvements to infrastructure and recreational facilities.
Listen to Mercer's Zaid Kamhawi (English or Arabic) discuss the 2012 Quality of Living rankings for cities in the Middle East and Africa.