J.J. Goldberg

Baghdad Ranked 'Worst City in World' to Live In

By J.J. Goldberg

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Boy aims toy gun at wreckage of a Baghdad car bombing, one of 9 across Iraq that killed 14 on March 5. And that wasn’t Iraq’s worst day in March. / Getty Images

Mission Accomplished: Just in time for the 11th anniversary of America’s war to liberate Iraq, a leading global business consulting firm comes forward with what could be the most telling measure of our success. According to an annual ranking prepared by Mercer, the human resources consulting subsidiary of Marsh & McClennan, the Iraqi capital of Baghdad is the worst city in the world to live in.

Mercer comes out with an annual ranking of 223 world cities, in order, its website says, “to help multinational companies and other employers compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.” Cities are ranked according to a variety of measures including political stability, crime rate and air pollution.

Baghdad was founded as capital of the Abbasid caliphate in the year 762 C.E. and was for centuries the cultural and intellectual capital of the world. It went into decline along with much of the Arab world after the Mongol invasion in the 1200s, but remained an important city and regained a good deal of stature in the 20th century with the rise of the oil industry. As recently as the 1970s it was described as “a model city in the Arab world” and even “one of the great cities in the world.”

The Washington Post notes that it’s been at the bottom of Mercer’s rankings since 2004, the first survey to be conducted following the U.S. invasion 2003.

The top five cities in the world, according to Mercer, are Vienna, Zurich, Auckland (New Zealand), Munich and Vancouver. Ranking just ahead of Baghdad at the bottom of the list are Bangui in Central African Republic and Port au Prince, Haiti.

The top five cities in the world, according to Mercer, are Vienna, Zurich, Auckland (New Zealand), Munich and Vancouver. Ranking just ahead of Baghdad at the bottom of the list are Bangui in Central African Republic and Port au Prince, Haiti.

In North America, interestingly, four of the top five cities are Canadian: Vancouver, ranked no. 5 in the world; Ottawa (14), Toronto (15), Montreal (23), and San Francisco (27). The five worst in North America are Mexico City (122), Detroit (70), St. Louis (67), Houston (66), and Miami (65).

The highest-ranking city in the Middle East and Africa region is Dubai, at 73. It’s followed by Abu Dhabi (78) in the United Arab Emirates; Port Louis (82), in Mauritius; and Durban (85) and Cape Town (90), in South Africa.

Mercer’s press announcement of the rankings doesn’t indicate where any Israeli cities stand, since it only gives the top and bottom five in each region and Israeli cities apparently don’t show up at the top or bottom. You can look it up, though, if you feel like dropping the $499.00 price for the full list.


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