Latin American cities are struggling in the liveability ranking
To read more of The Economists data journalism visit our Graphic detail page. Latin America is a place of extremes: in its geography (which ranges from idyllic beaches to rainforests to mountain peaks); its weather (the region is prone to natural disasters); and its politics (which swing from far-right to far-left). But when it comes to ease of living its cities are middling, according to the latest liveability index by EIU, our sister company. The ranking assesses 173 cities across the world in five categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. On average, Latin American cities score 67 out of 100, below Asia and Eastern Europe but above the Middle East and Africa. Life in Latin American cities has improved over the past year, thanks to better health care and education. That reflects the regions rebound after the pandemic disrupted schools and put pressure on hospitals. Lima in Peru, Montevideo in Uruguay and Santiago in Chile all gained nearly six index points compared with last year. But the regions record is less stellar when compared with pre-pandemic times. Since 2019, every Latin American city in the index has slipped in the global ranking. Buenos Aires, which remains the regions most liveable city, fell from 62nd place in 2019 to 73rd in 2023. Caracas in Venezuela, already the least liveable city in Latin America, fell further, from 131st to an unenviable 163rd out of 173. Although Latin American cities are improving, they are not doing so fast enough. Cities in Asia, including Busan in South Korea and Shenzhen in China, are leaving many of them behind. Countries across Latin America still struggle with stubborn inequality and poverty. Although unplanned settlements, such as Rio de Janeiros favelas, are becoming better places to live owing to falling crime rates, they still have poor access to clean water and sanitation. Climate change and the arrival of El Nino, the warming pattern of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, could make life harder, too. Even as extreme weather looks likely to increase in frequency and severity, Latin American countries are failing to learn from past mistakes. Peru, for example, launched a $7bn programme to rebuild and strengthen its dams and defences in the wake of massive flooding caused by the previous El Nino in 2017. Little of that money, however, actually went into flood prevention and many of the same areas flooded this spring. To climb back up the ranking, Latin American countries will need to do better at limiting the impact of such extreme weather and eradicating poverty. There are reasons to be hopeful, however. In Brazil, cautious optimism about the economy has returned under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who began a third term as president in January. And Latin America could benefit from the voracious appetite for metals and minerals needed for the green-energy transition If the regions leaders do not squander the opportunity, that could turn it into a commodity superpower. The worlds gain would also be Latin Americas.