World's most liveable cities
Australian cities occupy five of the top 20 places in a British survey ranking the liveability of 140 of the world's major centres.
Melbourne ranked third in the world, behind Vancouver in Canada and the Austrian city of Vienna in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2009 Liveability survey.
It assessed 140 cities based on stability, health care, education, infrastructure and culture and environment, giving each one a rating out of 100.
Perth was equal fifth with Calgary in Canada, with Sydney sharing ninth place with Zurich in Switzerland and Brisbane in 16th place.
As well as Vancouver and Calgary, Canadian cities also featured strongly in the top 20, with Toronto (4th) and Montreal (17th).
The New Zealand cities of Auckland and Wellington finished 12th and 23rd respectively.
US centres were well down the list. Pittsburgh ranked highest, in 29th place.
The highest-ranked Asian city was Osaka in Japan (13th). The next highest was Hong Kong (equal 39th with Madrid, Spain) followed by Singapore (54th) and Seoul, South Korea (58th).
The worst city to live on earth is Harare, the strife-torn capital of Zimbabwe.
"The performance of Asian cities reflects the diverse levels of development throughout the region," EIU spokesman Jon Copestake said.
"Australian cities represent many of the best aspects of liveability, while instability in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh means that cities in South Asia fare much worse."
The Economist Intelligence Unit is a branch of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist, a weekly news magazine, in London.