Pune is the second largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra and the ninth most populous city in the country. Situated above sea level on the Deccan plateau on the right bank of the Mutha river, Pune is the administrative headquarters of Pune district and was once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire established by Shivaji Maharaj. In the 18th century, Pune was the political centre of the Indian subcontinent, as the seat of the Peshwas who were the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire. Considered to be the cultural capital of Maharashtra, Pune is known as "Oxford of the East" due to the presence of several well-known educational institutions in the city. The city has emerged as a major educational hub in recent decades, with nearly half of the total international students in the country studying in Pune. Since the 1950s and 1960s, Pune has had a traditional old-economic base as most of the old industries continue to grow. The city is known for its manufacturing and automobile industries, as well as for research institutes of information technology, education, management and training, which attracts students, and professionals from India, South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Several colleges in Pune have student-exchange programs with colleges in Europe. Pune is one of the fastest growing cities in the Asia-Pacific region. The ‘Mercer 2017 Quality of Living Rankings’ evaluated living conditions in more than 440 cities around the world and ranked Pune at 145, second in India after Hyderabad at 144.. The same source highlights Pune among evolving business centres and nine emerging cities around the world with the citation "Hosts IT and automotive companies".