Australia is a land of extremes: the continent is home to some of the most terrifying, murderous creatures on the planet, but it also produced Chris Hemsworth. It still hasn't legalized same-sex marriage, but Melbourne was recently named one of the most livable cities in the world for the fifth freakin' time in a row. Also, once again, Chris Hemworth.
What? The man's chiseled abs make up for anything Australia can throw at me, up to and including crocodiles freely roaming the land. (Unrelated side note: Any Hemsworth lookalikes reading this, call me.)
Even if Hemsworth's godlike physique wasn't enough to make you long for the Land Down Under, The Economist's annual report on the livability of cities around the world will likely have the same effect. Each year, the magazine ranks more than 100 cities across the globe in terms of livability, accounting for factors like stability, healthcare, education, and culture. High levels of censorship and corruption, for instance, will drive down the rating, while high-quality public and private education will increase it.
Although the top five cities have stayed the same as last year, researchers noted in the report that more than a third of cities experienced a decline in livability scores over the past 12 months, reflecting a "deterioration of stability" in many countries around the world.
Overall, the average global livability score has fallen a percentage point over the past five years, and the global stability score has dropped even further. The report points to terrorism in the Middle East, as well as civil unrest in the United States related to accusations of police brutality, as possible causes of the decline in security.
However, the authors are careful to note that this doesn't mean violent crime is on the rise. "Although crime rates are perceived as rising in Australia, the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, recorded just 82 homicide offences in 2013/14," they wrote. Similarly, Austria's murder rate was just 0.9 per 100,000 people in 2012.
Low crime rates are certainly a factor in livability rankings, but they're not the only factor. Researchers pointed out in the report that the cities at the top of the list tend to be "mid-sized... in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density," which lends itself to low crime rates and prevents overburdening of the infrastructure.
Sprawling metropolises like New York and Tokyo are "victims of their own success," the authors wrote — their reputations draw so many residents that the cities are overcrowded and subject to high crime rates. On the other hand, the people of New York are still better off than those in unstable countries like Libya and Syria.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the top 5 best and worst cities to live in for 2015. (Livability scores are based on a 100-point scale.)
Top 5 Most Livable Cities
5. Calgary, Canada & Adelaide Australia
Livability scores: 96.6
4. Toronto, Canada
Livability score: 97.2
3. Vancouver, Canada
Livability score: 97.3
2. Vienna, Austria
Livability score: 97.4
1. Melbourne, Australia
Livability score: 97.5
Top 5 Least Livable Cities
5. Tripoli, Libya
Livability score: 40
4. Lagos, Nigeria
Livability score: 39.7
3. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Livability score: 38.9
2. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Livability score: 38.7