Athens has plunged to the bottom of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest ranking of the world’s most livable cities. The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a major effect on this years list, with many top 10 mainstays falling to lower rankings. Athens moved from 62 to 99 in 2021.
New Zealand’s ability to quickly contain the coronavirus saw their capital, Auckland, rocket to the top of this year’s list. Auckland dethroned Vienna, which usually dominates the index yearly, just missing the top ten in 2021, sitting at the 12th spot.
COVID-19 a possible explanation for Athens’ drop
The report noted that the pandemic has added a new variable to the assessment. “The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global livability,” the EIU said.
“Cities across the world are now much less livable than they were before the pandemic began, and we’ve seen that regions such as Europe have been hit particularly hard.
“A consistently low stability score, owing to ongoing civil unrest and military conflicts, is the reason behind most of these cities featuring in the bottom ten. However, conditions have deteriorated even further as a result of Covid-19—particularly for healthcare,” the report explained.
The coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected Greece’s tourism and hospitality industries, widening the country’s budget deficit and pushing it back into recession last summer.
The lockdown in March cost Greece around 750 million euros ($902 million) per week, according to Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.
Least livable cities unchanged
While the transformation of the top of the list has been dramatic, the least livable cities in the world has remained nearly the same as previous years. Damascus, the historical Syrian capital city that continues to suffer in the midst of the ongoing civil war, was found to be the least livable city for another year in a row.
Lagos, Nigeria took the second spot after Damascus. Lagos and the rest of Nigeria have seen tumult with the presence of the terrorist group Boko Haram, but the region has also been subject to a surge in ‘banditry’: term for rogue instances of kidnapping and violence. The Nigerian military has struggled with subduing crime and getting the country under control.
“Conditions in the poorest cities are likely to deteriorate further, should cities fail to get the vaccines they need to prevent the spread of new Covid-19 variants,” the report states. “Weak healthcare systems could come under greater strain, as they have in India.”
“The pace of recovery of livability in most regions will be determined by how effectively the health risks of the pandemic can be controlled, through a combination of vaccination, testing, tracing and quarantine measures,” it noted.
“Barring huge setbacks, such as the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, scores for culture and environment should improve.”