The World’s Cleanest Cities

April 12th, 2013 BY Amber Cowie | 25 Comments

In a study done by Mercer Human Resources Consulting in April 2007, the top 10 cleanest cities in the world are—not surprisingly—mostly located in the North Western Hemisphere. The only Asian cities represented in the top 10 are in Japan. There are no top-25 clean cities in South or Central America, Africa and Australia. The U.S. has five of the top 25; Canada has a whopping five on the list with four in the top 10, including the coveted top spot with Calgary in the lead; Europe has 11 of the top 25; and Japan has three.

The top 10 ranking is a bit of a misnomer. Since the consulting group used a exactingly specific mathematical system to rank the cities according to their green attributes, the result was a number of ties leading to three cities in the sixth spot and eight in the tenth. The list, therefore, actually details the top 17 cleanest cities in the world.

According to, a city has to focus on a lot of different things to make the grade. First and foremost, proper sanitation and an emphasis on public health are key. Clean sources of energy for home and commercial heating, a reliable and relatively green sources of transportation and environmentally regulated businesses are all factors in a city being recognized as clean. As well, recycling programs, waste regulation, air quality, water quality, land quality and green space all affect a city’s rating.

The four Canadian cities that made the top 10 have their own positive attributes as well as those described above.

Calgary succeeded in all of the named fields and more in its bid to be number one. Though it is the centre for oil and gas in Canada, its well-planned, grid-like structure, Light Rail Transportation system and compact design placed in squarely in the top spot. Calgary’s transfer stations sort through residential and commercial garbage taking out biodegradable and recyclable material that people may have missed.

Ottawa, at number four, was recognized for its comprehensive transportation system as well as its highly efficiently heated office buildings. The presence of the Rideau Canal, which serves as another way for citizens to commute (on skates) in the winter, also bumped Ottawa up in the ratings.

Montreal, made the list at number 10 largely due to its extensive public transportation systems, which include subways, buses, and commuter lines and allow citizens to travel in an environmentally friendly way.

Vancouver, the only Canadian city on the list without a major freeway running within its city limits, is well known for its green ethos. Many buildings house rooftop gardens, and though the rain is a slight deterrent for those visiting, residents freely make their way around the city using buses, trams, ferries, and the Sky Train.

And though Toronto did not make the top 10, it clean attributes landed it squarely at spot 21.

  1. tater03

    I am surprised to see that Japan has cities on the list. I just thought I had read that there cities are not the cleanest cities.

  2. Denisa Mikoskin

    I heard that Island is far more cleaner than the rest of the world.

    • Responses to Denisa Mikoskin
      umer mohammad says:
      March 16

      delhi and banglore in our india are world cleanest cities inshaallah

  3. Niral Patel

    i am Looking For the top cleanest list of coities around the world so, i will be thankfull to you if you will provide it to me.
    thank you very much

  4. stav

    Niral.. Google is your friend..

    All i didwas type in ’top ten cleanest cities’ and i got this..

  5. Avery St. Clair

    What, not a mention of homelessness, graffiti or litter? The authors of this piece obviously do not live in a city themselves.

  6. ttur

    Helsinki is the worlds cleanest city in the world by statistics

  7. turr
  8. stav

    I would think that if you google it, you would find several different lists, all with a different top city. I dothink though, that generally the same cities would be on most of the lists.

  9. Wayne Parry

    We are hosting a Clean City Summit in Johannesburg in September 09 and would love to bring in a sopeaker. Can you recommend someone?
    Wayne Parry

  10. Cameron Melin

    I am from Calgary, I while I’ll agree that it is clean, I sure isn’t compact!

  11. Danny

    Any best city ranking without Singapore in top 10 is a sham, least of all one that involves cleanliness, for which the Lion City is simply in a league of its own!!

  12. Emma

    Singapore did not participate in any of the cleanliness survey. But I believe they do stand a chance making it to the top 10.:)

  13. dave

    i think dublin is nr 1

  14. Bart

    Toronto is pretty clean… except when they have garbage strikes… :(

  15. Ahmad

    ttur , i doubt its the cleanest in the world, calgary is proven its the best, i live in canada and all the other places ive been were more polluted than canada, plus im livin in vancouver and it has amazing fresh air here! but helsinki is maybe one of the cleanest but not #1

  16. zuhaib iqbal

    Calagary,helsinki and torronto are the cleanest cities of the world respectively,

  17. Tuyishimire Yvonne

    I have been to several cities and i think so far Kigali(Rwanda),is the cleanest.

  18. ch zahid

    i think singapore is leading city in race of cleanest cities.because of his best sanitation systemand notable planing.

  19. Bol Aher

    the most dirty city is Khartoum

  20. blen

    Eritrea (east africa )is the third world cleanest city !!!

  21. ERIC

    cleanest city for me is a citIES in the island of the philippines……

  22. Dider Drogba

    Malawi is pretty clean as well

  23. Ch Husnain Ali

    I have travel abu dhabi for 7 to 8 years and my opinion that abu dhabi is world cleaniest city that hav strick rules about cleanliness

  24. Ch Husnain Ali

    I have travel many countries including abu dhabi{uae} for 7 to 8 years and my opinion that abu dhabi is world cleaniest city that have strick rules about cleanliness.

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