Melbourne has retained its number one place in The Economist’s most liveable cities rankings for the sixth year in a row, while Sydney has been booted from the top 10, mainly due to “a heightened perceived threat of terrorism”.

In a further blow to Australia’s most populous city, Adelaide and Perth remain in the top 10, in fifth and seventh place, respectively.

Only 0.1 percentage points separated Melbourne and runner up Vienna, Austria. There had been speculation Melbourne could loose its title of world number one, with RMIT planning professor Michael Buxton recently warning that delayed transport, urban sprawl and a proliferation of poorly built high-density apartments could threaten the city’s liveability credentials.

For Sydney, recent commentary in Fairfax said the city risked “losing its edge” due to poorly planned development and rampant gentrification.

The results were welcomed by Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

“Once again, we excelled in the five criteria: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure,” Mr Doyle said.

“We do not take this title for granted and are constantly planning and implementing policies that will continue to improve our quality of life.”

He said projects like the Melbourne Metro and the Queen Victoria Market renewal would continue to help with raising liveability.

“The little things also make a big difference: planting more trees, recycling stormwater, making more parks and green spaces, providing better paths and connections for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as embracing technology and data to improve our operations,” he said.

Cities ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit are assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across the five categories of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Overall, the report said the types of cities that appeared in the top 10 tended to be similar.

“Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.”

Terrorism affecting global liveability

Global stability decreases have seen overall liveability scores drop by 0.9 per cent over the past five years, due to the ongoing threat of terrorism.

“This has been a year undoubtedly marked by terrorism,” a summary report stated. “While not a new phenomenon, its frequency and spread have increased noticeably and become even more prominent in the past year.”

Damascus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya were the least liveable cities, with extremely low stability scores due to conflict.

In the US mass shootings and civil unrest over the death of black people at the hands of police also caused declines in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco and New York.

The top 10:

1. Melbourne, Australia
2. Vienna, Austria
3. Vancouver, Canada
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Calgary, Canada
5. Adelaide, Australia
7. Perth, Australia
8. Auckland, New Zealand
9. Helsinki, Finland
10. Hamburg, Berlin

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