Traveling to some of the magnificent places in the world is a life-changing experience. You exponentially expand your view of the world. A famous quote from Saint Augustine of Hippo reads, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
If you are one of those that agree with Saint Augustine, then most likely, your bucket list includes feeding your wanderlust. The question is when?
More or less, you think you hardly have the time or money. But the time is now. They say that money will come back, but time simply won’t.
So, now, you might want to realize your dream of taking your well-needed vacation and explore countries in Europe, Oceania, or Asia. Imagine yourself diving in the most pristine beaches, taking a selfie at ancient landmarks, discovering the richest culture, or walking down the cleanest streets in the world.
However, the world consists of more than 180 countries and you do not want to regret when you get there, right? Hence, the key is to narrow your choices. You can first check out which are the safest or the cleanest countries to visit.
Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2021 Report
Good thing, though, is that the good folks at Yale University and Columbia University jointly conducted research that ranks countries from the cleanest to the dirtiest ones in the world.
The researchers collaborated with the World Economic Forum for this project. It aims to measure the cleanliness and environmental friendliness of countries across several variables.
The EPI index considers various criteria such as air quality, water, sanitation, forests, climate change, as well as other key factors. The EPI takes into account 50 percent of a country’s environmental health and the other 50 percent pertains to its ecosystem vitality.
One of the environmental metrics that affect a country’s EPI score is Air Quality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has become one of the leading threats to public health. In fact, it has now become a global issue.
Another factor is Water and Sanitation wherein a country has access to clean water. A source of clean water is crucial for human development, the environment, and the country’s economy. Other determining factors of a country’s EPI also include the climate and energy issue, forests, fisheries, use of heavy metals, and more.
2021 Top 10 Cleanest Countries In The World
Based on the data collected in 2021, let us take a quick look at the top 10 cleanest countries in the world and their respective EPI ranking.
- United Kingdom
Other countries that have high EPIs and therefore considered some of the cleanest places to travel include Iceland that scored 78.57. Spain scored 78.39, Germany got 78.37, Norway received 77.49, and Belgium got 77.38. Favorite destination Italy has a 76.96 EPI. New Zealand lands on 17th spot with 75.96. Netherlands received a 75.46 EPI while Israel scored 75.01, and Japan has 74.69 EPI.
The United States, meanwhile, sits at no. 27 in the 2021 EPI with 71.19. It registers strong scores on some issues, such as Water and Sanitation with 90.92 and Air Quality with 97.52. However, It has a weak performance on deforestation with 8.84 and GHG emissions with 45.81.
Countries With Low EPI Scores
For comparison, the countries that are at the bottom of 2021 EPI rankings include Nepal with an EPI score of 31.44. India is also one of the dirtiest countries in the world with an EPI of 30.57, along with the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 30.41, Bangladesh with 29.56, and Burundi with 27.43.
Apparently, low EPI scores show the lack of national sustainability as well as efforts to improving air quality, protecting biodiversity, and reducing GHG emissions. Countries that have poor EPI scores could succumb to a public health crisis that requires immediate action.
So, now, we dig deeper into each of the top 10 cleanest countries in the world. Arguably, these nations are the most beautiful countries in the world, too.
Switzerland gets the crown as 2021 cleanest country in the world with an impressive EPI of 87.42. It is known for its thick forests, wildlife, as well as safe and clean water. This explains why it bested 179 countries in the aspect of cleanliness.
This majestic nation is located in Western Europe, with Germany to the north, Italy to the south, France to the west, and Austria to the east. The country’s population is estimated at 8 million people. They speak either one of the country’s four main languages, i.e. German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
Notably, this thriving nation has one of the incredibly lowest crime rates in the world among all developed countries. Also, the country has an ideal climate. Although it has four seasons, Switzerland’s climate never gets too cold or too hot. Thus, it sees booming tourism all year round.
In addition, they can be as innovative as they can get. The fact is Swiss chocolatiers managed to add edible gold to their chocolates.
Switzerland is also known for its elaborate landscape and is one of the best tourist dreamlands, too. This cleanest place on Earth has more than 1,500 lakes and each is less than 10 miles away from another lake.
The Swiss economy is as well popular for being one of the most stable and thriving economies in the world. Lined by the Swiss Alps, it is definitely a beautiful country that you need to add in your list of go-to places on the planet.
Moreover, Switzerland offers a myriad of prime, breath-taking tourist spots to visit in one’s lifetime. These include The Matterhorn, Interlaken, Lucerne, Davos, Lake Thun, and Lake Geneva.
When in Switzerland, you should not miss to also experience the train journey to Jungfraujoch, the “Top of Europe”, in the beautiful Bernese Oberland. The Great Aletsch Glacier, known as the longest glacier in Europe, starts at Jungfraujoch.
France ranks as the second cleanest country in the world with an EPI score of 83.95. Found in Western Europe, it is the third largest country on the continent.
This rich country has a population of 62 million people. However, its large populace does not have a negative impact on the cleanliness of the nation’s environment.
France gets to be among the world’s most environment-friendly and tidiest countries. It received a high score on air quality, water sanitation, and fisheries.
Despite the fact that France is industrialized, 79 percent of its electricity depends on nuclear energy. This makes France the largest consumer of nuclear power in the whole world. That is why it has a low score on carbon dioxide emissions
Moreover, France has a total nominal GDP of $2.61 trillion, with a per capita GDP of $41,141. Thus, France is indeed the wealthiest country in Europe and the world’s fourth wealthiest nation.
France is not just one of the cleanest nations, but it is also the no. 1 tourist destination in the world. Based on data gathered by the UN World Tourism Organization, it ranks first in the world tourism ranking. More than 83 million foreign tourists visit France each year.
The world’s most visited country has a total of 37 world heritage sites. It has a lovely climate, too. France is also known to have superb beaches, historic castles and museums, and grandiose gardens and parks.
If you are into arts, Paris is home to one of the largest and most visited museums in the world. It contains 35,000 pre-historic objects, such as Egyptian antiques, crown jewels, old paintings, and many more.
The top three most popular attractions in France include The Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Palace of Versailles. You can check out other must-see sites like the Côte d’Azur, Loire Valley Châteaux, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, and Provence.
France encompasses an area of 551,000 sq. km., which is almost a fifth of the EU’s entire area. France comes in a six-sided shape, which is why it is also called l’hexagone.
Sitting at no. 3 as the cleanest country in the world is Denmark, with an EPI score of 81.60. Apparently, this country in the Nordic region emphasizes the use of renewable energy.
As of 2021, Denmark only has a total population of 5,754,356 people. It is the southernmost part of other Scandinavian nations that include Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
Denmark is not just one of the world’s cleanest countries. The country also sits at no. 2 in the list of the happiest countries in the world according to the survey by the Gallup World Poll.
Interestingly, it appears the Danes are arguably the most social people that walk this planet. This is the very reason that explains their happiness. Another Nordic country, Norway, tops the list while Switzerland ranks third.
Other than that, Denmark also holds another superlative. Statistics indicate that it is the least corrupt country in the world.
Also, Denmark is a top-rated tourist destination for travelers. You will find Europe’s oldest functioning tower and observatory, Rundetaarn, here. Other best spots include the Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world.
Other amazing tourist attractions in the country include Nyhavn, the National Museum of Denmark, the National Gallery of Denmark, Christiansborg Palace, Frederiksborg Palace, and the famous Little Mermaid statue.
The Klitmoller, otherwise known as Cold Hawaii, in Scandinavia is known as one of the best beaches to surf on. Because of this, Denmark has also turned into a surfer’s country.
Malta ranks fourth in the 2021 cleanest countries in the world with an EPI score of 80.90. The intensified efforts of the Maltese government to take care of the environment in recent years has paid off. It is now in the list of top 10 tidiest countries to visit.
It does not mean that it is precisely spotless, though. But most parts of the country have a high index of air quality and are kept clean.
It is interesting to know that Malta neither has forests or rivers across the country’s seven islands. It is mainly made of limestone and its hills stand less than 300 meters.
Do you also know that Malta is one of the world’s smallest nations? In spite of its size, it is densely populated with an estimate of 450,000 residents.
The country’s tourism is continuously thriving. It is among the most visited tourist destinations in Europe, thanks to its elaborate and pristine beaches. In fact, the peak beach season in Malta lasts until the middle of the fall season.
The Maltese Islands, namely Malta, Gozo, and Comino, take pride of ancient history proven by the ruins of the oldest existing edifices today. Among these three islands, Gozo is the most flourishing destination.
The capital of Gozo known as Victoria is also called Rabat. It boasts the magnificent Cittadella, which dates back to the medieval era.
Visitors who look forward to a nice, relaxing weeklong stay will absolutely love the place’s picturesque landscape, quiet towns, and immaculate beaches.
Comino, meanwhile, is the smallest among the three islands. It remains virtually unoccupied. The Blue Lagoon serves as the island’s biggest attraction and from the looks of it, you won’t ever ask why.
Sweden sits at fifth spot of the world’s cleanest countries in 2021 with an EPI score of 80.51. Some may even argue that it should be crowned the cleanest country in the world.
All Scandinavian countries have three common characteristics. They are clean, peaceful, and well-developed. Sweden is no different as it is consistently in the list of cleanest countries of the world over the years.
This Nordic country has a population of only 9.1 million people. The Swedish government gives importance to keep a cleaner environment by increasing its greenery. The country has clean air and water, thousands of acres of preserved forests, and majestic lakes.
It is also known for being a master in recycling, wherein it has set policies on recycling trash. The country even has the most efficient trash recycling system. It has to import trash from other countries to keep them functioning.
Apart from this, the country is naturally using renewable energy sources, thereby decreasing its CO2 emissions.
Moreover, Sweden is the perfect choice for your next trip to Europe. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth you might get to visit one day. Sweden boasts of its garbage-free streets, minimal air pollution, and sanitary facilities wherever part of the country your feet will lead you to.
It is even dubbed as traveler’s paradise simply because of its rich history and diverse landscapes. If you are into outdoor adventure, Sweden is the go-to place.
Tourists can explore a slew of Sweden’s best attractions. These include opulent The Royale Palace, Skansen, the Vasa Museum, Gamla Stan, and the world-famous Ice Hotel.
Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, is called the “Venice of the North.” It is an epic city built around water covering 14 islands and over 50 bridges on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago.
The United Kingdom makes it to the 2021 top 10 cleanest countries in the world. It sits at no. 6, with a score of 79.89.
The country has received perfect scores in Drinking Water and Sanitation. It did excellent as well in two categories, such as Marine Protected Areas and Biome Protection.
The UK also has a high Air Quality index of 94.43. It also displays intense efforts in protecting the environment with a 96.69 score in Biodiversity and Habitat.
The United Kingdom encompasses four countries, i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Relative to its size, the UK has a population of 63.1 million people. It is estimated that 8.1 million people live in London, UK’s capital.
The United Kingdom has reached the pinnacle of being one of the richest countries in the world. This great nation has a total GDP of $2.434 trillion. Its per capita GDP of $38,591. Their total nominal GDP is the 6th highest in the world. It ranks as the third largest economy in Europe.
The country’s majestic landscape is mostly defined by steep mountains and low valleys. It is also known as the sixth most visited countries in the world.
There are infinite possibilities of things to see and do when you are in the UK. It has 28 world heritage sites that date back to the medieval period. These include Bath, Canterbury, and Chester. The 3,000-year-old Stonehenge that stands on Salisbury Plain is more ancient than Egypt’s Great Pyramids.
The country is home to Windsor Palace, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. In 2020 alone, a total of 40 million foreign tourists came to visit, spending a total of $31.93 billion.
Famous tourist attractions in the United Kingdom include The Tower of London, The Roman Baths and Georgian City of Bath. Some of the other iconic landmarks to visit are York Minster and Historic Yorkshire, and Canterbury Cathedral. You can also explore the Eden Project, The Cotswolds, Warwick Castle, Royal Museums Greenwich, and a lot more.
Luxembourg ranks as the 7th cleanest country in the world with an EPI score of 79.12. This small European country is surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany.
Luxembourg is a small country encompassing less than 1,650 sq.km. This nation has a population of fewer than 600,000 people.
Most parts of Luxembourg are rural. North part of the country has dense Ardennes forest and nature parks. The east part has narrow rocky valleys of the Mullerthal region and the southeast part has the Moselle river valley.
Luxembourg’s capital, Luxembourg City, is also home to a preserved medieval old town settled on mere cliffs.
In terms of its tourism, the vibrant Luxembourg City features the main points of interest and top tourist attractions in Luxembourg. UNESCO has also declared the city’s old quarter as a world heritage site.
Also, it is worth your while to discover several of the country’s small towns. Old fortresses, mighty castles, and other picturesque backdrop make Luxembourg one of the top tourist destinations among world travelers.
One of the landmark sites to visit in Austria is the Bourscheid Castle perched on a plateau. The ruins were declared a historical monument in the 1930s.
You may also visit other spectacular places in Luxembourg like the Walls of the Corniche. You should not miss to also see Upper Sûre Natural Park and Esch-Sur-Sûre, Larochette, and the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art.
Austria sits at 8th spot in the list of cleanest countries in the world in 2020. It has an EPI score of 78.97. Situated in Central Europe, it is a landlocked country with mountainous terrain. That is why it stays clean. More importantly, it is safe from oceanic waste that has raised a global concern at present.
This wealthy country has vast and dense greenery. Two-thirds of its entire area is blanketed by meadows and forests. It is also home to the beautiful Krimml waterfalls.
As of 2020, this German-speaking country has a total population of 8.75 million people. They are typically conservative but friendly. Austrians have a high standard of living given its consistently high per capita GDP of $49,436.
Austria’s neighboring countries include Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the Czech Republic.
France is a go-to destination for travelers who love walking or hiking. Austria has the magnificent Alps that is perfect for snow sports, such as Alpine skiing and snowboarding.
The country also boasts historical landmarks. In Vienna, you can find both The Wurstelprater, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, and The Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the oldest zoo in the world.
Foreign visitors can also explore Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest ice cave, which is found in Werfen, Austria. This cave extends more than 26 miles or about 42 kilometers.
Other famous tourist attractions in Austria include the Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, Mirabell Palace, Salzkammergut, and many more.
Ireland occupies the ninth spot in the list of top 10 cleanest countries in the world. It garnered an EPI score of 78.77, a tad bit higher than that of Finland.
Dubbed as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland is a majestic green country situated in northwest Europe. Apart from being one of the cleanest places on the planet, the country is also the 20th largest island in the world. It measures around 84,421 sq. km. of land.
An estimated 6.4 million people live in Ireland. The country’s capital city, Dublin, serves as home to 1.273 million people. Majority of the residents speak in English. However, the country’s official language also includes Irish, the native tongue of families that live on the island for generations.
Ireland’s nominal GDP amounts to $217.3 billion, with a per capita GDP of $47,478.
“One of the things that I love about Ireland is that nearly everywhere you visit there is something unexpected,” Cindy Thompson, from Irish Fireside, said about Ireland.
Well, isn’t she right? The Republic of Ireland is renowned for having a vast number of castles. This mystical island also offers infinite and abundant places to visit. The most popular attractions for tourists include state museums, prehistoric heritage sites.
In addition, there are a host of outdoor adventures to enjoy all throughout the country, such as horse riding, golf, sailing, and of course, exploring its pristine islands.
Dublin alone boasts of striking iconic landmarks such as the St. Patrick’s Cathedral that dates back to 1220. In fact, Irish people grandly celebrate Patrick’s Day in Ireland. They feast on traditional Irish food, which includes beer, pink bacon, and savory chicken.
You will truly find Ireland an enchanting and wonderful place to visit. The country had witnessed fights for power in the past. However, Ireland now thrives as a peaceful, independent nation.
Finland is the third Scandinavian nation that made it in the latest ranking of the world’s cleanest countries. It occupies the 10th spot with an EPI score of 78.64.
It is as well viewed to be among the most liveable countries in the world. Finland is recognized for its excellent air quality. This country is known for its lofty forests and incredibly breath-taking natural landscapes.
It produces minimal air pollution and utilizes environment-friendly energy resources. This could mean Finnish people will not easily be susceptible to illnesses that are associated with environmental risks.
Additionally, the country’s high level of cleanliness has contributed to its thriving tourism. Business Finland reported that Finland has marked a new record in tourism. It saw growth in the number of international tourists, attracting 6.6 million in 2019.
“Finland is a new destination. We still have plenty of potential for growth,” said Paavo Virkkunen, from Visit Finland unit.
Furthermore, Finland is dubbed the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” This country is most famous with its enchanting Northern Lights. Many tourists consider this phenomenal attraction the icing on the cake.
Other than that, some amazing highlights of your dream trip to beautiful Finland include Winter Wonderland experience at SantaPark. You can also explore Siida Museum, Olavinlinna, Suomenlinna, Lampivaara Amethyst Mine, and other dazzling tourist spots.