Add to Home Screen

To install this Web App, tap and then Add to Home Screen.

The world’s most liveable cities

For the seventh year in a row, Melbourne was ranked as the most liveable city in the world in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 Global Liveability Ranking, which scores lifestyle challenges in 140 cities worldwide.

The report concludes that global liveability has improved for the first time in a decade.

Of the Nordic capitals, Helsinki was ranked ninth, Copenhagen 21st, Oslo 25th, Stockholm 26th and Reykjavik 37th.

No Asian cities made it into the top 10 list. Hong Kong was ranked as the fourth best city in Asia after Osaka, Tokyo and Singapore. China’s top cities were Hong Kong (global ranking 45), Suzhou (72), Beijing (73), Tianjin (77), Shanghai (81), Shenzhen (84), Dalian (88) and Guangzhou (92).

The survey assesses each city according to five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture/environment, education and infrastructure.

Shenzhen tops the list of sustainable cities in China.

China’s most sustainable cities

Shenzhen is the most sustainable city in China, thanks to its excellent performance in the economic, social and environmental segments, especially in the innovation area, according to a ranking by global management consultancy McKinsey & Company.

In its 2016 Urban Sustainability Index Report, Hangzhou was ranked second and Zhoushan third.

Beijing dropped out of the top 10 because of its unsatisfactory environmental performance and lack of proper use of resources. Other cities, including Xiamen, Dalian, Fuzhou, Changsha and Yantai, also lost their positions in the top 10.

Cities in the provinces of Guangdong and Zhejiang dominate the list.

Hukou reform on its way

China’s government has announced a goal of expanding urban hukou, or residency permits, to its 100 million migrant workers by 2020 as part of its plan to rebalance its economy.

“China’s hukou system is one of the most pressing areas for policy reform. It is both a direct cause of economic and social inequality and a major obstacle to China’s goal of building a highly urbanised, consumer-driven economy,” writes the online news magazine The Diplomat.

The hukou system designates a resident’s status as being either rural or urban based on their registered birthplace. In practice, this means a migrant worker from the countryside is not entitled to public services in a big city, despite working and living in the city.

“Urbanisation [in China] didn’t happen because the government wanted the country to urbanise. The economy asked for it, and the people voted with their feet.”

Alain Bertaud, urban planner and senior research scholar at the New York University Stern Urbanisation Project, in an interview with The Guardian.

Smarter cities in numbers

No 1

Hong Kong has the most sustainable transport system in the world, according to the design and consultancy firm Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Mobility Index in 2017. Hong Kong takes the top spot because of its innovative and well-connected metro network and a high share of trips taken by public transport, which is also relatively cheap.

1.5 million

The number of people that are added to the global urban population every week.                     


The percentage of the world’s urban population growth that will take place in African and Asian countries. This rapid urbanisation is placing huge demands on infrastructure, services, job creation, climate and environment.

828 million

The number of people that live in slums today – and the number keeps rising.                         


The percentage of China’s total population that lived in the cities by the end of 2017. That is a permanent urban population of 813 million, up 20.5 million on the year, according to government data published by the official Xinhua news agency.

2 trillion

The estimated cost in yuan, equivalent to US$290 billion, that China will invest over 15 years in infrastructure and relocation for building the new city of Xiongan, about two hours’ drive from Beijing, according to the financial services firm Morgan Stanley.