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Vancouver – home of Bryan Adams, Michael J Fox and Raymond Burr - is the best place to live in the world.

That's according to a new survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which has ranked 127 world cities in terms of their "liveability".

What is liveability? For the EIU, this is a function of safety, infrastructure and the availability of goods and services. Vancouver was ranked top, with fellow Canadian cities, Toronto and Calgary, also featuring in the top ten.

Vancouver is situated on the Pacific coast of north America, just north of Canada's border with Washington state in the USA. The city sits on the Strait of Georgia, a channel that separates the mainland from Vancouver island.

To the surprise of many, Vancouver the city is not on Vancouver island. It lies on the Burrard peninsula, which sits between the Burrard inlet and the Fraser river to the north and south, respectively.

Often referred to as "the most beautiful city in the world", Vancouver certainly has a striking appearance. Surrounded by water and the Pacific Coast mountains – notably "the Lions", which sit on either side of the city – Vancouver has the largest number of high-rise buildings per capita of population for any north American city.

Nevertheless, the city's skyscrapers are not amongst the world's tallest: planning restrictions keep the highest at around 150 metres, in order to preserve the views of the mountains.

Vancouver also houses one of the world's largest urban parks – Stanley park. From here, the picture-postcard southern skyline of Burrard inlet can be seen.

Vancouver is also one of Canada's warmest cities – certainly a bonus when you consider the usual perception of Canada's weather. Summer days are usually warm, averaging 22 degrees Celsius, while January sees temperatures of around 6 degrees.

A young, modern city, Vancouver has all of the amenities that visitors require, packed into a compact and very scenic location. It is also the ideal starting point for all sorts of expeditions, into the wilds of the mountains or Vancouver island, north along the Sunshine coast, or even out into the ocean on a cruise. North of the city is the world-renowned Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort.

Indeed, Vancouver is due to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, and winter sports are particularly well-catered for.

Even the airport, Vancouver International Airport, is an award winner, regularly being classified as one of the world's best. 15 million passengers pass through it each year, and while most of the flights are scheduled for US destinations, it also serves many international cities.

The city is also a culinary centre, with Pacific seafood a speciality, and salmon the local signature.

Of course, the EIU was not thinking of all these things when it rated Vancouver as top city. It also rates Vancouver as one of the safest places in the world with regards to terrorism risk: Canadian cities scored well in this regard, and Vancouver's remoteness no doubt helps keep it safe.

But is it worth a visit? A lot of people seem to think so – a million cruise ship passengers alone dock in Vancouver each year.

It's certainly a long way from the UK, but it's certainly worth the journey.


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