Economist: Damascus Worst Place to Live Anywhere

Thanks to the civil war in Syria, Damascus is now listed as the worst city in the world to live in by a prestigious British publication.

David Lev ,

Damascus: soldiers prepare to fire on crowd.
Damascus: soldiers prepare to fire on crowd.
Screenshot / Ugarit News

The civil war in Syria has badly hurt the quality of life in the country – to the extent that Damascus is now listed as the worst city in the world to live in. The Syrian capital came in dead last in the survey of 140 world cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an analysis firm that is a part of the prestigious British business publication.

The poll ranks “liveability,” which, the group says, is based on an analysis of 30 factors across five major categories, including: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable, and the rankings are taken from polls conducted by the Unit over the past year.

The most liveable cities are ones most people would expect to top the list, with Melbourne, Australia coming in first, followed by Vienna. Three of the most liveable cities - Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary (ranking three, four and five respectively) are in Canada, while four (Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth) are in Australia. Besides Vienna, the only non-Canadian or Australian cities to make the top ten were Auckland, New Zealand, and Helsinki, Finland. In each of the top ten, stability, healthcare, education, and other factors were ranked as near-perfect.

Of the bottom ten cities, Damascus was the worst, with Dhaka, Bangladesh coming in second worst, and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea the third worst. Besides Damascus, numerous other major cities in Islamist countries were listed in the bottom ten, among them Algiers (134 out of 140), Karachi, Pakistan (also ranked 134), Tripoli, Libya (133), and Tehran (131), which received especially poor marks in the culture and environment, infrastructure, and education rankings.

The rest of the bottom ten consisted of cities in Africa (Douala, Cameroon; Harare, Zimbabwe; Lagos, Nigeria). Other cities in Israel's “neighborhood” didn't fare much better. Cairo was ranked at 122, and Amman at 103.

“Conflict is responsible for many of the lowest scores,” the report said. “This is not only because stability indicators have the highest single scores, but also because factors defining stability spread to have an adverse effect on other categories. For example, the threat of armed conflict will not just cause disruption in its own right, it will also damage infrastructure, overburden hospitals, and undermine the availability of goods, services and recreational activities. Nowhere is this more apparent than Damascus,” it added.