Every two years the Economist releases a list of the world’s most livable cities, and each time Australian cities are recognised. Its 2021 Global Liveability Index has ranked Adelaide the third best city to live in the world.

It was New Zealand’s Auckland, though, that took out the top position, followed by Japan’s Osaka in second place.

Melbourne dropped from second to equal eighth place with Switzerland’s Geneva, while Perth came in at sixth and Brisbane nabbed the 10th position. Sydney just missed out from making the top 10, by being ranked 11th in the index.

The bi-annual Liveability Index ranks 140 cities according to five categories: stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure. It gathered data for this survey between February 22 and March 21 2021, so Covid responses played a significant role.

In fact, the report found that all cities were affected by the pandemic, with the rankings of many European and Canadian cities particularly hit. Healthcare scores across the board fell, with the least affected cities concentrated in Western Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

“The overall global average liveability score has fallen by seven points, as compared with the average pre-pandemic score,” the report says. “The extent to which cities were sheltered by strong border closures, their ability to handle the health crisis and the pace at which they rolled out vaccination campaigns drove significant changes in the rankings.

“Auckland, in New Zealand, is at the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Liveability rankings, owing to the city’s ability to contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic faster and thus lift restrictions earlier, unlike others around the world. Six of the top 10 cities in the March 2021 survey are in New Zealand or Australia, where tight border controls have allowed residents to live relatively normal lives.”

Rome dropped 21 positions to 57; Hamberg, in Germany, lost 34 places to come in at 47; and Dublin was ranked at 51, down 22 spots.

The Economist says the other end of the rankings scale – the worst places to live – remained fairly unchanged. The Syrian capital, Damascus, is still the least liveable city in the world. Caracas, in Venezuela, was ranked 131, Lagos, in Nigeria 139 and PNG’s Port Moresby was ranked 138.