The Swiss city of Zurich is the best place in the world to live, while the capital of Congo, Brazzaville, is the least desirable residence, according to a new survey.
Zurich remains "top" city for the second year in a row
The annual survey of 215 cities by Mercer Human Resources Consulting placed Zurich ahead of another Swiss city, Geneva, which shared second place with the Austrian capital, Vienna, and Vancouver in Canada.
Cities in Europe, Australia and New Zealand continued to rank highest in the table, while poor and war-torn African cities languished at the bottom.
In a related survey, Luxembourg was named the world's safest city, while the lowest ranking was given to the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui.
The "quality of life" survey based its table on 39 criteria ranging from political, social and economic factors, taking New York as the benchmark with the base score of 100.
WORLD'S BEST CITIES
Geneva, Vienna, Vancouver: joint 2nd
Auckland, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Bern: joint 5th
Such factors as quality of health, education and transport services were also taken into account during the study, conducted between September and November 2002.
It said Zurich remained the world's top city for the second year in a row, providing the best quality of life, with 106.5 points.
Geneva, Vancouver and Vienna all scored 106 points.
WORLD'S WORST CITIES
Pointe Noire: 212
They were closely followed by Auckland in New Zealand, the Danish capital of Copenhagen, Frankfurt in Germany and the Swiss capital, Berne, with 105.5 points.
New York ended up being 44th on the list. Among other notable cities London was at 39th spot and Tokyo was ranked 26th.
At the other end of the table, African cities occupied 17 of the bottom 20 places, with two capitals Brazzaville (28.5 ) and Bangui (30.5) being judged to have the worst quality of life.
The Iraqi capital, Baghdad (30.5) was placed 213th, amid fears of a possible US-led military strike.
Brazzaville is still in ruins because of the decade-long civil war
"The gap between cities at the top and bottom of the table is still large," Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, said.
"Economic and political unrest in Africa and Latin America has pushed many cities down in the rankings this year," Mr Parakatil said.
He added that "it will take time for many of those African cities to recover from such prolonged periods of political and economic turmoil".
In the related survey, Luxembourg was ranked as the world's safest, with Singapore, the Finnish capital, Helsinki and the Swiss cities of Zurich, Geneva and also Bern all sharing the second place.
Milan, Athens and Rome were described as the least safe cities in Western Europe, while Washington received the worst safety ranking in the United States.
Abidjan in Ivory Coast was the world's second most dangerous city at the end of last year, when the survey was taken.
Several other African cities were also at the very bottom of the table.