The World’s Most and Least Livable Cities

Print Email

Cities with the Worst Quality of Living

10. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
> Population: 8.40 million
> Infrastructure rank: 192 (30th lowest)
> National GDP per capita: $217 (the lowest)
> Adults dying prematurely: 387 per 1,000 (20th highest)

Kinshasa is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most war-torn regions on earth. Most recently, a rebel group took over several major cities in the DRC, but withdrew after being pressured by the international community. Kinshasa’s most popular radio station — backed by the United Nations — was recently taken off the air by the government for, many believe, giving voice to the rebel groups. The DRC is an extremely impoverished nation — an estimated 53% live on less than $1 per day, the highest rate of any country measured by the United Nations.

9. Nouakchott, Mauritania
> Population: 709,000
> Infrastructure rank: 207 (15th lowest)
> National GDP per capita:
$1,185 (36th lowest)
> Adults dying prematurely: 289 per 1,000 (40th highest)

Nouakchott is the capital of Mauritania, where half of the population still depends on agriculture for a living, according to the CIA World Factbook. The country has extensive iron ore deposits, which are its major export. It also has among the most abundant fishing areas in the world, although this resource is predominantly taken advantage of by foreigners. The State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, urging “extreme caution” for those who choose to enter, due to increased activity by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Also Read: America’s Most Violent States

8. Tbilisi, Georgia
> Population: 1.12 million
> Infrastructure rank: 201 (21st lowest)
> National GDP per capita: $3,210 (69th lowest)
> Adults dying prematurely: 164 per 1,000 (90th lowest)

Georgia gained international attention in 2008 from its conflict with Russia, after which Russia left military forces in the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,and publicly recognized them as independent countries. The U.S. Department of State currently advises against travel to these areas. In recent years, there have been several terrorist attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Georgia, including in Tbilisi. According to the Department of State, “most of these attacks are believed to have originated in the occupied territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.” In September 2010, a bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi. In February, a bomb was discovered on a car belonging to an Israeli embassy employee.

7. Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
> Population: 1.29 million
> Infrastructure rank: 218 (4th lowest)
> National GDP per capita: $3,631 (76th lowest)
> Adults dying prematurely: 365 per 1,000 (26th highest)

The State Department notes that crime in Brazzaville, which includes “armed robberies, vehicle break-ins, mugging, and pick pocketing,” is quite common. Brazzaville is located right across the Congo River from Kinshasa, and violence from both cities sometimes spills over into the neighboring region. Since the Republic of Congo relies heavily on the oil industry, it struggled during the global financial crisis. Its prospects have improved following an increase in oil prices and $1.9 billion in debt forgiveness from the IMF in 2010.

6. Sana’a, Yemen
> Population: 2.23 million
> Infrastructure rank: 219 (3rd lowest)
> National GDP per capita: $1,343 (42nd lowest)
> Adults dying prematurely: 209 per 1,000 (70th highest)

Sana’a is the capital of Yemen, where civil unrest and the presence of terrorist groups have led the U.S. State Department to issue a travel warning to U.S. citizens advising against visiting the country. In September, protesters attacked the U.S. embassy in Sana’a. The country’s Abyan province was controlled by an al-Qaeda affiliated group from February 2011 to June 2012. The group, called Ansar al-Shari’a, was accused by Amnesty International of imposing punishments, including summary killings and amputations, on people it accused of spying, sorcery and theft, among other activities.”