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Swiss life is sweetest in Basel suburb

Riehen, the "best place" to live in Switzerland. riehen-online.ch

The town of Riehen near Basel offers the highest quality of life in Switzerland, a survey has found.

This content was published on April 21, 2005 - 12:24

The top 25 towns were all in the German part of the country. The highest-placed city in French-speaking Switzerland was Fribourg (26). Lugano was the top city in Italian-speaking Ticino, at 54.

The study was published in Thursday’s edition of the weekly business newspaper Cash.

It was compiled by Idheap, the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration, which looked at 104 Swiss towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants in 2002.

Thirty indicators were used to compile the rankings. These were then divided into five categories: living conditions, economic dynamism, health/social aspects/culture, environment/traffic and politics/institutions.

The most noticeable result is that Switzerland’s five biggest cities - Basel (62), Bern (34), Zurich (39), Lausanne (82) and Geneva (46) - all came far down the rankings.

Top town

Riehen, a Basel suburb with just over 20,000 inhabitants, did especially well because of its many recreation areas, high average income, low unemployment, generous spending on education, culture, health and the environment, public transport and active participation in political decision-making.

Also on the podium were Zug, a tax and holding paradise, and the eastern Swiss city of St Gallen.

The big cities couldn’t compete. Bern, Zurich and Basel all suffered from low birth rates, shortage of rental property, high taxes (compared with the suburbs), air pollution and traffic problems.

But Zurich mayor Elmar Ledergerber was unruffled by the result. "It doesn’t bother me in the slightest," he said, adding that the criteria used in the rankings gave a distorted picture of reality.

Even worse than the performance of the big Swiss-German cities was that of the major Swiss-French ones. Geneva could only manage 46th place, and Lausanne limped in at 82.

The wooden spoon went to the northern town of Grenchen, which is still suffering from the collapse of its watch industry in the 1970s, although it competed well in terms of property to rent.

The bigger picture

In November last year Switzerland came second to Ireland in a global quality of life survey published by the London-based Economist.

"Switzerland is known for its civic virtues and strong sense of community, as well as [high] life expectancy," The Economist’s Daniel Franklin said at the time. "But clearly what will matter in future is continued economic growth."

Franklin pointed to the "danger" that Switzerland could "fall behind in the economic stakes".

"It will also have to hold on to some of the community and family structures that really matter for quality of life."

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The top five Swiss towns:
1. Riehen
2. Zug
3. St Gallen
4. Chur
5. Wetzikon

...and the bottom five:
100. Amriswil
101. Worb
102. Volketswil
103. Oftringen
104. Grenchen

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