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 into 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 it 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) 2023 Report
The 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. 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.
Top 10 Cleanest Countries In The World
Cleaner countries most likely see higher life expectancies for their citizens than those living in dirtier environments. Factors that have a significant effect on human health include clean water, better air quality, better handling of waste, and sanitation.
People in countries with high air quality scores will succumb less to illnesses related to air pollution. Add to that, cleaner countries tend to also have low exposure to harmful particles like PM2.5 that may cause respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
The top 10 cleanest countries in the world have two new entries in 2023: Norway and Germany. The runners-up among the 180 countries with high EPIs include Netherlands and Japan with 75.3 and 75.1 EPI scores respectively. Australia, Spain, and Belgium round out the top 15 cleanest countries with 74.9, 74.3, and 77.38 EPI scores respectively.
From no. 27, the United States, meanwhile, moves up three notches to the 24th spot in the 2023 rankings with a 69.3 EPI score. It earns strong scores on some issues, such as Water and Sanitation with 86.1 and Air Quality with 84.2. However, it shows a weak performance on GHG emissions with 56.7.
2023 Dirtiest Countries in the World
For comparison, the countries that are at the bottom five of 2023 EPI rankings include Cote d’Ivoire with an EPI score of 25.8, Sierra Leone with 25.7, and Afghanistan with 25.5. Myanmar and Liberia round out the list of the top 5 dirtiest countries in the world with EPI scores of 25.1 and 22.6 respectively.
Countries with low EPI scores show a lack of national sustainability and efforts to improving air quality and protecting biodiversity. They also fell short in 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 2023 top 10 cleanest countries in the World. Arguably, these nations are the most beautiful countries in the world, too.
Sitting as the no. 1 cleanest country in the world in 2023 is Denmark, with an EPI score of 82.50. Apparently, this country in the Nordic region emphasizes the use of renewable energy.
As of 2023, 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.
Luxembourg ranks as the 2nd cleanest country in the world with an EPI score of 82.3. 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. The 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 backdrops 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.
Switzerland falls two spots lower from being the no. 1 to the 3rd cleanest country in the world with an EPI of 81.5. 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.
Switzerland is also home to the world’s most coveted luxury watches brands such as TAG Heuer, Tissot, and Rolex. The Swiss are also famous for their positively sinful, scrumptious chocolates.
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 a beautiful country that you need to add to 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.
The United Kingdom makes it to the 2023 top 10 cleanest countries in the world. It sits at no. 4, with a score of 81.3.
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, with a 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 country 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.
France ranks as the fifth cleanest country in the world with an EPI score of 80.0. 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 $2.72 trillion, with a per capita GDP of $40,380. 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.
Austria sits at the 6th spot in the list of cleanest countries in the world in 2020. It has an EPI score of 79.60. 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 8.88 million people. They are typically conservative but friendly. Austrians have a high standard of living given its consistently high per capita GDP of $50,122.
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.
Finland is the third Scandinavian nation that made it in the latest ranking of the world’s cleanest countries. It occupies the 7th spot with an EPI score of 78.9.
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 the Visit Finland unit.
Furthermore, Finland is dubbed the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” This country is most famous for 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 the Winter Wonderland experience at SantaPark. You can also explore Siida Museum, Olavinlinna, Suomenlinna, Lampivaara Amethyst Mine, and other dazzling tourist spots.
Sweden sits at the 8th spot of the world’s cleanest countries in 2023 with an EPI score of 78.7. 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 on the list of the cleanest countries in 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 a 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.
Norway joins the ranks of the 2020 top 10 cleanest countries in the world with a 77.7 EPI score. It’s the fourth country on this list to hail from the Nordic region with a population of 5.31 million.
It earns a perfect score for sanitation and drinking water and ranks fifth in air quality with a 97.9. Norway uses electricity that is 97 percent renewable. The Norwegian government takes serious efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.
As one of the world’s most booming nations, Norway also has a rich culture and heritage that attracts millions of tourists. The land of the midnight sun boasts historical museums, captivating scenery, deep fjords, snow-capped mountains, and breathtaking northern lights.
You’ll find the coolest tourist destinations to visit in Europe for exhilarating adventures in Norway. These include Sognefjord, Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen), Tromsø, Lofoten Islands, Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf in Bergen, etc.
Also, you can check out the magnificent Fjord Norway network, a chart-topper in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Geirangerfjord region found in the north of Ålesund is one of the most renowned natural attractions in Norway.
Germany now ranks no. 10 in the top 10 cleanest countries in the world in 2020 with a 77.2 EPI score. It leaped two notches higher this year, thanks to its renewable energy revolution. The country has seen an increase in its environmental friendliness through 10 green initiatives.
Being the most technologically advanced, Germany received a perfect score for sanitation and ranked fourth for biodiversity. To date, the country has a population of 82.93 million.
Three words describe a tourist’s experience while in Germany: history, culture, and natural beauty. The European country is home to some of the world’s old cathedrals and original medial Old Towns.
Germany still celebrates centuries-old traditions such as Christmas markets, festivals, and fairs today. The country’s capital Berlin is its cultural heart, full of grand museums and galleries to visit. Nature lovers will appreciate Germany’s great outdoors.
Its top tourist destinations include Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), Miniatur Wunderland, Historic Port of Hamburg, and Munich’s Marienplatz.