VIENNA (Reuters) - Vienna, Austria's grand capital on the Danube river, offers the highest quality of life of all cities in the world, while the Iraqi capital Baghdad, once more took its place at the bottom of a liveability list compiled by consulting firm Mercer.
The survey of 230 cities helps companies and organizations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.
Global centers London, Paris, Tokyo and New York City did not even make the top 30, lagging behind most big German, Scandinavian and Australian cities.
Vienna's 1.7 million inhabitants benefit from the city's cafe culture and museums, theaters and operas. Rents and public transport costs in the city whose architecture is marked by its past as the center of the Habsburg empire are cheap compared with other western capitals.
Switzerland's Zurich, New Zealand's Auckland, Germany's Munich and Canada's Vancouver followed Vienna - which reached the best position for the seventh time in a row - in the top five of most pleasant cities to live in.
The best African entry on the list was South Africa's Durban at 85.
Baghdad was again ranked lowest in the world. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the city since the American-led invasion in 2003.
Damascus, five year's into Syria's bloody war, ranked six places above Baghdad, with Bangui in the Central African Republic, war-torn Yemen's capital Sanaa, Haiti's Port-au-Prince, Sudan's Khartoum and Chad's N'Djamena in between.
Reporting By Shadia Nasralla Editing by Jeremy Gaunt