Thursday, 17. April 2014
04. 12. 12. - 14:00
Austria's capital offers its residents the best quality of life of any city in the world and Baghdad the worst, according to the latest global survey from consultant group Mercer.
According to news agency Reuters, Vienna with 1.7 million residents came top of the survey for the fourth year in a row, boasting a vibrant cultural scene alongside comprehensive health care and moderate but rising housing costs. Its opulent architecture from the time of the Habsburg empire makes it a tourist magnet.
The reliable public transport system costs just 1 euro ($1.30) a day for an annual pass in a city governed by left-leaning Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens.
"The city is so international... I have been waiting for buses and heard over 10 languages being spoken at one stop," said American Dawn Gartlehner, 42, a law firm manager who has lived in Vienna for more than 15 years.
"The city caters to all kinds of people, all ages and all walks of life. You can have a wonderful day here spending all the money in your bank account but have an equally great time spending nothing at all."
Mercer conducts its annual survey to help companies and organizations set compensation for staff on international assignments. It uses 39 factors such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.
Anna Staribacher, a 24-year-old student, praised her home town's safe streets and abundance of parks and woodlands.
"Austria is a wealthy country, we have low unemployment and free university access. Living is affordable and prices are still moderate by international standards. But I wonder why people are still so grumpy all the time?"
Despite its sovereign debt crisis, Europe has 15 of the world's top 25 cities in the 2012 survey. Germany and Switzerland each have three in the top 10. The lowest-ranking city in western Europe was Athens, gripped by deep economic woes.
"Overall, European cities continue to have high quality of living as a result of a combination of increased stability, rising living standards and advanced city infrastructures," said Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer.
"But economic turmoil, political tension and high unemployment in some European countries and high levels of unemployment have continued to be problematic in the region."
Canadian cities dominated rankings in the Americas region, with Vancouver at number five retaining the top spot and Honolulu at 28 the most pleasant U.S. urban centre.
New Zealand's Auckland at number three is still atop the Asia Pacific region's charts, while Dubai at 73 gets best marks in the Middle East and Africa.
But that region also has 15 cities in the bottom 20, including Lagos, Nigeria; Bamako, Mali; Khartoum, Sudan; and N'Djamena, Chad. Iraq's capital Baghdad was ranked lowest in the world.
"The ongoing turmoil in many countries across North Africa and the Middle East has led to serious security issues for locals and expatriates," Parakatil said. "Many countries continue to experience violence through political demonstrations that have sometimes developed into massive uprisings and led to serious instability within the region."
This is a far cry from Vienna, which has held the top spot in the Mercer rankings since 2009.
Yet the city is not without complaints.
Jennifer Stepper, an American designer who has lived in Vienna for 18 years, noted that visiting friends often comment about how unfriendly waiters and shopkeepers are. But it no longer bothers her
"Now I realize it is just the way of the Viennese. Like the rest of us, they have their quirks."
» Travel 2013-04-01
Looking out of the window you may think of anything other than summer, but it is rapidly approaching and that means one thing - Summer holidays!
» Panorama 2013-03-18
Glamour and glitz were out in force at the weekend as stars from Austria and further afield flocked over the red carpet into the Vienna City Hall for a night of awards, dance and partying!
» Panorama 2013-02-11
By far the sweetest event in the Vienna Ball season - the Bonbon Ball took place this weekend.
What is on at Burg Kino this week? (18 April - 24 April)
This week at the Burg Kino on the Opernring the following films are showing:
Austria Accused Of Ignoring Giant Nazi Swastika
A huge swastika that has scarred the walls of an Austrian castle for the past 80 years is still on view despite breaching strict postwar rules banning all Nazi symbols.
Jetflyers Take The Jet Ski Onto The Road
An Austrian company is making waves after they came up with the idea of taking a jet ski – and fitting it with wheels.
Nuns invite young women to get a taste of Abbey life
In a bid to revive their Austrian abbey that doubles up as a health resort, a group of nuns are inviting young women to come and stay with them to get a taste of nun life.
Austrian women earning over fifth less than men
Austrian women are earning on average 23.4 percent less than men in the country, according to Statistik Austria.
Exploring photography and art through 1960s cult film Blow-Up
Vienna's Albertina is putting on an photography exhibition featuring stills from the cult sixties photography film Blow-Up by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Turtle flies from Vienna to India to try his luck with the ladies
An endangered turtle from Schoenbrunn Zoo is taking a trip across the world to try his luck out with two female turtles in India.
What is on at Haydn Kino this week? (17 April - 23 April)
The following films are on at the English language cinema Haydn Kino on Mariahilfestrasse between 17 April and 23 April:
Two teenage girls go missing as they fly from Austria to fight in Syria
Two teenager girls who say they have left Austria to fight in Syria have trigged an international search operation from the Austrian police. The two - a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old - left identical letters behind telling their families goodbye and that "we will meet in in Paradise". The letters told of their plans to go to Syria to "fight for Islam". The parents of the girls reported that their children had gone missing last week and since then the police tracked them to Turkish city of Adana, where they had flown to from Austria - after that the police lost track of the girls. Adana is 75 miles northwest of Aleppo, a city that became a major battleground during the civil war taking place in Syria. Police spokesman Thomas Keiblinger say that the police are taking the farewell letters "very seriously" and are now conducting an international search for two teenage girls who left farewell letters announcing plans to "fight for Islam" in Syria. Both girls come from families who immigrated from Bosnia but have not been fully identified by Austrian police.
Ricky Martin to perform at Life Ball 2014
In a celebrating of joys of life, sensuousness and a tribute to handsomeness, the Life Ball 2014 has announced that the Latino star Ricky Martin, chosen many times over as Sexiest Man Alive, will perform at the event.
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