The Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva topped an urban quality of life survey published by a UK research company.
Geneva comes joint top in this year's survey
Iraq's capital, Baghdad, ranked last in the annual survey of 215 world cities, by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
Vancouver, Canada and Vienna, Austria tied in third place on the list, which is intended as a guide for expatriates.
The survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting evaluates criteria including health, education, transport, safety and economic and environmental factors.
Countries in Europe, Australia and New Zealand dominated the top of the list, with Auckland, Bern, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Sydney all in the top 10.
'Threat of terrorism'
The survey was conducted mainly in November 2003 and uses New York as a starting point with a base score of 100.
New York finished 38th, up from 44th last year, 6.5 points behind Zurich and Geneva.
The survey found that the circumstances surrounding the Bush administration's "war on terror" have damaged the quality of life in several US cities - as well as in poorer cities in the Middle East and Africa.
Top 10 cities for overall quality of life, 2004
1. Zurich, Switzerland
1. Geneva, Switzerland
3. Vancouver, Canada
3. Vienna, Austria
5. Auckland, New Zealand
5. Bern, Switzerland
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
5. Frankfurt, Germany
5. Sydney, Australia
10. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
10. Munich, Germany
Several US cities, which now have to deal with increased security checks, have fallen down the rankings.
Honolulu and San Francisco, both at 24, are in the highest position, while
Atlanta is the lowest-placed of the US cities examined - down three places to 66.
Khartoum in Sudan, Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, both in the Congo, and Bangui in the Central African Republic join Baghdad at the bottom of the list.
Last year Brazzaville was bottom, in 215th place, with Baghdad at 213. But the Iraqi capital has lost 16 points - far mor than any other city - since the US-led invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
"The threat of terrorism in the Middle East and the political and economic turmoil in African countries has increased the disparity between cities at the top and
bottom of the rankings," said Mercer senior researcher Slagin Parakatil.