Hong Kong is the world's most-livable city, according to the Economist's annual livability index, followed by Amsterdam, Osaka and Paris.
The highest ranked US city on the list — which looks at green space, urban sprawl, pollution, isolation, cultural assets, proximity to other cities and other "spacial" aspects — was Washington, DC, at 14.
Sydney was the only Australian city to make the top 10, despite Melbourne — in the country's southeast — having been chosen only a year ago as the most-livable among 140 cities surveyed.
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Vancouver, which had featured regularly on the list, didn't make the cut in 2012.
The reason previously highly placed cities dropped off the list was owing to a drastic overhaul of its judging criteria.
The Economist’s "Gulliver" blog explains:
"The EIU held a competition in conjunction with BuzzData, a data-sharing company, to devise a new manner of ranking cities. The winner was Filippo Lovato, an architect who came up with the 'Spatially Adjusted Livable City Index,' assessing factors such as a city’s 'green space, sprawl, natural assets, cultural assets, connectivity, isolation and pollution on a scale of 1 to 5, and then gave the resultant combined score 25 percent of the weight of his new index.'"
Under the new system, Hong Kong scored poorly for pollution and cultural assets, but scored well on natural assets and low on urban sprawl.
The Australian Associated Press quoted Jon Copestake, an editor for the EIU, as saying in a statement that: "Sydney scores well for having low pollution levels and lots of green space in the additional indicators.
"Although it was hampered slightly because of the isolation of Australian cities and the urban sprawl of the city."
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