Cuenca ranks among the top 25 cities in Latin America for high quality of life according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The IDB study looks at 144 indicators in analyzing cities and, besides economic growth and development, considers basic services, environmental quality, safety, health, and tourism appeal. IDB compares 550 cities worldwide with populations from 100,000 to two million.
Other Latin American cities among the top 25 are Montevideo, Uruguay, San Jose, Costa Rica, and Panama City. Cuenca was the only city in Ecuador included in the top-rated group.
The study reported that Cuenca’s per capita GDP is $9,592, the highest in Ecuador, compared to the country average of $7,500. It also noted that the city has the best water in the country, a clean environment and reliable electric, water, and internet service. It added that Cuenca’s exposure to natural disasters such floods, landslides, high winds, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions was low.
“Cuenca ranks high in many categories that indicate a high quality of life,” said Paulina Crespo, Director of International Relations for IDB. “Coverage of basic public services exceeds regional standards, and it also ranks high for climate and security.”
She added that the fact that the city has attracted thousands of foreign residents speaks to its international appeal. The report said the city is home to 4,000 North Americans, 1,500 British and Europeans, and more than 5,000 citizens of other Latin American countries. “The large number of foreign nationals makes Cuenca exceptionally cosmopolitan for a city of its size.”
IDB reported Cuenca’s population density as 55.11 inhabitants per hectare, well below the sustainable level of between 60 and 100. The city has an average of 30 dwellings per hectare, except for the historic district, which has 60.
The report said that the city needs to do a better job controlling urban growth, saying that its valley geography was leading to haphazard growth in adjacent valleys. It also recommended that the city provide more funding for outlying communities and preparation for natural disasters.