Saturday, June 14, 2008

San Juan: Best City in Central & South America

Based on the latest worldwide best quality of life rankings, San Juan is the best city in Central and South America for expatriates to live in. Overall, San Juan received a ranking of #72. This study was published by a management consulting agency with the purpose of helping multinational companies, amongst others, determine where to re-locate their employees. Some of the factors considered include the following: political stability, economic environment, housing availability, cultural offerings, etc. Most of the cities in the top 10 are in Europe.

I'd say I was pleasantly surprised to see San Juan, where I was born, receive such an accolade. While I have not traveled extensively in Central and South America, I must say San Juan is relatively prosperous and enjoys a stable political and socioeconomic environment as compared to other Latin American countries. Although I was not raised in San Juan, I do remember how it was in the past and a lot of progress has been made. This is especially true in terms of its infraestructure, and the attraction of investments by some of the world's largest corporations in the past 10 to 15 years. However, I do also see an ever increasing disparity of wealth.

Interestingly, if Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state of the U.S, it would also become the poorest. According to the 2000 U.S Census Bureau, the poverty rate in Puerto Rico is almost 45%. This is more than twice that of Mississippi, which is the most destitute in the U.S, at 16%. While this latest ranking shows how progress has been made, there is room for a lot more improvement. When there's a larger number of people who are living in economically precarious situations, it will most likely result in destabilizing and undoing the marvelous achievements of the past.

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