Athens Soars 19 Places in the Economist Most Livable Cities Index

Its climb to number 73 on the list of 172 cities comes a year after Greece’s capital plunged  last year, with the report noting COVID-19’s “heavy toll” on global livability.

This year, Vienna was again ranked as the best city in the world to live in according to the ranking. It was followed by Copenhagen, Denmark; Zurich, Switzerland; and Calgary, Canada—those two cities tied for third place. Next were Vancouver, Canada; Geneva, Switzerland; and Frankfurt, Germany, followed by Toronto in Ontario, Canada and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Osaka, Japan and Melbourne, Australia tied for 10th place.

Last year, COVID-19 negatively affected Greece’s tourism and hospitality industries, widening the country’s budget deficit and pushing it back into recession last summer.

However, 2022 is a different story. Earlier this year, the capital ranked among the top cities in the world to relocate to, according to research carried out by Property Guides, a UK-based real estate company.

And tourism is on the rise. “2022 is the year we return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of the number of cruise ships in operation, while in 2023 we expect to exceed 2019 passenger numbers,” said Cruise Lines International Association’s Maria Deligianni at the recent Posidonia 2022, one of the world’s largest shipping exhibitions.

The annual index of The Economist is based on a 0 to 100 score. This year, Athens notched 74.5, a range where the index says, “Day-to-day living is fine, in general.” Some of the index’s key factors include, healthcare, stability, education infrastructure and culture and environment.

Athens’ Planned Improvements

Some of the problems plaguing Athens include its heavy reliance on cars and lack of sufficient public transportation. There is also a need for additional housing while construction timelines are slow and there is a lack of adequate green spaces. A major development project, Hellinikon Park, is on the way, however. It will be bigger than both London’s Hyde Park and New York City’s Central Park and will be the largest coastal park in all of Europe.

The green space will be part of the massive Hellinikon regeneration project at the former Athens airport. Hellinikon Park is expect to be completed in 2025.

Other major cities on the Economist’s list include New York, which ranked 51st, Paris at 19th place (23 places higher than last year), and London, which is 33rd. Spain’s Barcelona and Madrid, ranked 35th and 43rd respectively, and Beijing was 71st on the index.

Meanwhile, Damascus, Syria, and Tripoli, Libya continued to languish at the bottom of the list along with Lagos, Nigeria, as they continue to face social unrest, terrorism, and conflict.

This year’s Economist index of cities excludes Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv — noting Russia’s invasion — and contains 33 more cities than last year’s total.

The military action by Russia pushed down the rankings for Moscow and St. Petersburg. Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions, and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country.

Many of the new cities in the ranking are in developing markets, including eleven in China, which face longer-term problems such as censorship, relatively weaker infrastructure, and developing education systems, the report noted.

Overall, this year’s index rose sharply in the survey. Scores for culture and environment as well as healthcare and education have improved due to COVID-19’s restrictions being eased, according to the report. The global average score does still remain below pre-pandemic levels.

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