In today's fast-paced metropolitan world, it is undeniable that cities are the focal point of business, creativity and entertainment. When asked to think of an example of a model city, a city that is an example for others, it's often the most famous and novel cities that come to mind. However, what's interesting about this year's most prominent global cities is that you won't find New York, Paris or Tokyo amongst them. In fact, many of the most highly ranked cities on earth are small, located in Europe. Cities such as New York are certainly influential in their own right - but where does this sort of metropolis stand when services, government, reputability and happiness are taken into account? In short, what makes a model city?
The Reputation Institute, an advisory firm, publishes an annual list of the world's most reputable cities. Every year 100 major cities are ranked with regard to a number of factors. Firstly, economy; a reputable city must be financially stable, technologically up-to-date and heavily engaged with the international business market. Secondly, government; a successful city must have great leaders who are dedicated to their jobs. They must be well-liked by the general public and display good leadership as well as fairness. Thirdly, environment; a model city must be accessible, clean and safe. It must have good services and cater to a wide demographic of people. In short, a city should be liveable.
It is no surprise that war-torn and impoverished cities have finished in last place. In The Reputation Institute's most recent report, Mumbai, Caracas, Cairo and Baghdad received some of the poorest ratings. In contrast it's developed, successful countries that contain the 10 Most Influential Cities of 2014. They top the polls of everything that's required to make a city work, along with displaying low levels of crime, corruption and conflict. To put things simply, these cities have set the standard that other cities around the world should aspire to.
10 Copenhagen, Denmark
This beautiful part of Scandinavia is a constitutional monarchy. Back in 1849, the King of Denmark decided to give up his governing authority, as he felt the nation had the right to be able to vote. Copenhagen has a small population of just over a million people, which gives it a quaint atmosphere. The city boasts a world-class healthcare and education system. What the city has recently become famous for is its approach to child care; the state provides one year of combined maternity and paternity leave, cheap nursery costs and extremely flexible working hours, so that parents can easily balance their family life with their work life.
9 London, England
London is perhaps one of the world's most interesting cities. It provides a deep sense of culture and history despite being one of the most multi-cultural cities on the planet, with an estimated 300 different languages being spoken by its inhabitants. London offers a wide range of job opportunities, as it's a hub for international business. The city has good services too, such as the iconic London Underground, the oldest subway system in history. Although the city was hit hard by recession in the mid-2000s, recent figures have shown that inflation and unemployment are falling at a faster rate than ever in 2014 - meaning that London's economy is set to improve even more over the next year.
8 Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, and like London the city is a multi-cultural one. This city is extremely safe; Switzerland itself has held neutrality towards global conflict for many years. The city is well-planned and accessible - its central station, Zurich Main Station, is serviced by almost 3,000 trains every day, making it the most serviced train station on earth! The University of Zurich is a highly acclaimed university with strong international links; Albert Einstein himself studied at this university. Switzerland also boasts taxes that are lower than the European average.
7 Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is a city renowned for its beauty, showing us that pleasing aesthetics are not always synonymous with beaches and sunshine. Edinburgh's architecture is breathtakingly beautiful, but thats not all this city has to offer. The city's economy is on the rise more than ever before. Over 23,000 private sector jobs were created in Edinburgh in the past year alone. Despite its relatively small population of less than half a million people, Edinburgh has strong international business links and a huge tourist industry. As well as this, the National Well-Being study recently found that Edinburgh's residents are the happiest people in the United Kingdom, with a staggering 97% of residents stating that they are happy to live there.
6 Florence, Italy
Florence earns its place on this list for a simple yet important reason- a high quality of life. The Renaissance began in this stunning city, a fact which is still evident today. According to UNESCO, about one third of the world's most-loved pieces of art can be found here. Many of the most famous painters and sculptors in history were born here, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello and Botticelli. This heavy cultural influence forms a winning combination when combined with classic Italian food and warm weather. Florence is the epitome of Italian living!
5 Venice, Italy
Venice is perhaps one of the world's most spectacular cities. While the rest of the world is becoming increasingly modernised, Venice has managed to hold on to its beautiful, rustic aesthetic. What is so enviable about the Venetian way of life is its pace - life moves slowly in Venice. The majority of travel is done on foot. Venetian's enjoy one of the best diets in the world, the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to increase one's life expectancy. A word of warning though, with over 18 million tourists a year, expect to pay tourist prices!
4 Vienna, Austria
Vienna lies in the heart of Europe. Like many central European cities, it has a very agreeable, temperate climate. Like many of the cities on our list, Vienna is a friendly, multi-cultural city. Vienna offers housing costs which are lower than average for a central European city. The city has a rich history which attracts many tourists. It doesn't stop there; public services in Vienna are excellent. A year-long pass to use the city's world-class transport system works out at only €1 a day!
3 Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm's appearance on our list should be no surprise. The Swedish capital has been highly regarded for many years. The city is best known for its green mentality; Stockholm is the most environmentally friendly city on earth. Over 30% of the city is made up of parks or greenery, and according to many studies Stockholm has the cleanest air in the EU. The Swedes certainly take advantage of this - Stockholm has many open-air attractions, such as the Skansen Museum & Zoo. Stockholm also boasts an extremely high standard of living along with one of the highest income per capita rates in the world.
2 Toronto, Canada
Toronto has become famous for being a city of potential, a city where young go-getters can thrive. According to recent statistics, the city has vast employment opportunities for young people. The city is digitally advanced as well as socially advanced; it is a multi-cultural one which strongly supports LGBT rights. The support a city gives to young people is hugely important; since young people represent the future, a city is boosting its future economy by offering this support to young people. Toronto is a modern city, offering the best of everything from education, to entertainment, to nightlife.
1 Sydney, Australia
If you're looking for the good life, Sydney is the place to be. Living in Australia's most populated city offers a huge range of perks. All healthcare and hospital treatments are free for citizens and residents. The city is dotted with 100 stunning beaches, all the more enjoyable due to Australia's near-perfect climate. The city is also extremely eco-friendly, in common with other high rated cities on the influence scale. Everything is recycled; even the waste from festival port-a-loos (it is sent to worm farms!). This green initiative means that the air and water in Sydney are free from pollution. Australia's prosperity is evident here, too, as the minimum wage is a cool $16 an hour, and if that wasn't enough, you get to enjoy clear skies 338 days a year. The Aussies have life figured out!
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