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The 50 Cleanest Cities in the World

Do you ever wish you could have the best of both worlds? Clean air and bustling city life? Turns out, you can! Here are the 50 cleanest cities in the world.


By Alex Daniel, BESTLIFE

If you enjoy clean air and clean streets (who doesn’t?), sometimes big cities can be stress-inducing—all that smog, noise, and people packed into tight spaces is enough to make any neat freak flip out.

But it turns out that not all big cities are dirty.

We analyzed data for the 200 largest cities in the world to pinpoint the ones that are the absolute squeaky cleanest. Our data drew on air pollution levels (including particles of 10 micrometers in diameter or less and 2.5 micrometers or less), according to the World Health Organization, the quality-of-living rank according to global consultancy Mercer (Ed Note: Not every city has a Mercer rank), and the home country’s Environmental Performance Score, according to Yale, Columbia, and the World Economic Forum.

[post_ads]In addition to those figures, we factored in on-the-ground, anecdotal evidence on the part of our well-traveled editorial staff and threw in bonus points if any of these locations earned a spot on Monocle’s Quality of Living index. With that in mind, here are the 50 cleanest major cities on the planet. And if you’re in the mood for traveling somewhere much quieter, check out The Fairytale Town in Holland Where the Streets Are Entirely Made of Water. 



50 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Population: 6,429,923
Air pollution (PM10): 49
Air pollution (PM2.5): 16
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 118
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 47.70



49 

Seoul, South Korea

Population: 10,197,604
Air pollution (PM10): 46
Air pollution (PM2.5): 24
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 76
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 48.25



48 

Daegu, South Korea

Population: 2,492,994
Air pollution (PM10): 45
Air pollution (PM2.5): 24
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 48.56



47 

Caracas, Venezuela

Population: 1,943,901
Air pollution (PM10): 47
Air pollution (PM2.5): 25
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 189
Environmental Performance Score: 63.89
Clean City Score: 49.40



46 

Kwangju, South Korea

Population: 1,477,780
Air pollution (PM10): 41
Air pollution (PM2.5): 22
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 49.70



45 

Daejeon, South Korea

Population: 1,535,028
Air pollution (PM10): 41
Air pollution (PM2.5): 22
Environmental Performance Score: 62.3
Clean City Score: 49.78



44 

São Paulo, Brazil

Population: 12,038,175
Air pollution (PM10): 35
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 121
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 49.90


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43 

Bogotá, Colombia

Population: 7,878,783
Air pollution (PM10): 52
Air pollution (PM2.5): 24
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 129
Environmental Performance Score: 65.22
Clean City Score: 50.04



42 

Medellin, Colombia

Population: 2,441,123
Air pollution (PM10): 45
Air pollution (PM2.5): 26
Environmental Performance Score: 65.22
Clean City Score: 50.91



41 

Davao City, Philippines

Population: 1,632,991
Air pollution (PM10): 21
Air pollution (PM2.5): 11
Environmental Performance Score: 57.65
Clean City Score: 51.24



40 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population: 3,054,300
Air pollution (PM10): 26
Air pollution (PM2.5): 14
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 93
Environmental Performance Score: 59.3
Clean City Score: 51.24



39 

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Population: 1,476,867
Air pollution (PM10): 29
Air pollution (PM2.5): 13
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 52.30



38 

Warsaw, Poland

Population: 1,753,977
Air pollution (PM10): 33
Air pollution (PM2.5): 26
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 81
Environmental Performance Score: 64.11
Clean City Score: 52.31



37 

Alexandria, Egypt

Population: 4,616,625
Air pollution (PM10): 23
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Environmental Performance Score: 61.21
Clean City Score: 53.26


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36 

Moscow, Russia

Population: 12,197,596
Air pollution (PM10): 33
Air pollution (PM2.5): 20
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 168
Environmental Performance Score: 63.79
Clean City Score: 53.33



35 

Cali, Colombia

Population: 2,400,653
Air pollution (PM10): 41
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Environmental Performance Score: 65.22
Clean City Score: 53.53



34 

Curitiba, Brazil

Population: 1,879,355
Air pollution (PM10): 24
Air pollution (PM2.5): 11
Environmental Performance Score: 60.7
Clean City Score: 53.62



33 

Bucharest, Romania

Population: 1,883,425
Air pollution (PM10): 31
Air pollution (PM2.5): 23
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 107
Environmental Performance Score: 64.78
Clean City Score: 54.04



32 

Budapest, Hungary

Population: 1,759,407
Air pollution (PM10): 29
Air pollution (PM2.5): 25
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 78
Environmental Performance Score: 65.01
Clean City Score: 54.21



31 

Singapore

Population: 5,535,000
Air pollution (PM10): 30
Air pollution (PM2.5): 18
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 25
Environmental Performance Score: 64.23
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 21
Clean City Score: 54.63



30 

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Population: 2,778,918
Air pollution (PM10): 46
Air pollution (PM2.5): 30
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 57.70


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29 

Tainan, Taiwan

Population: 1,885,252
Air pollution (PM10): 44
Air pollution (PM2.5): 29
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 58.16



28 

Taichung, Taiwan

Population: 2,752,413
Air pollution (PM10): 44
Air pollution (PM2.5): 29
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 101
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 58.29



27 

New Taipei City, Taiwan

Population: 3,954,929
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 63.44



26 

Taipei, Taiwan

Population: 2,704,974
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 85
Environmental Performance Score: 72.84
Clean City Score: 63.45



25 

Fukuoka, Japan

Population: 1,483,052
Air pollution (PM10): 35
Air pollution (PM2.5): 19
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 14
Clean City Score: 63.89



24 

Chicago, United States

Population: 2,695,598
Air pollution (PM10): 22
Air pollution (PM2.5): 12
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 47
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 64.39



23 

Osaka, Japan

Population: 2,691,742
Air pollution (PM10): 32
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Mercer Quality of Living Ran: 60
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 64.89


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22 

Los Angeles, United States

Population: 3,884,307
Air pollution (PM10): 20
Air pollution (PM2.5): 11
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 58
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 64.99



21 

Houston, United States

Population: 2,489,558
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 67
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 65.39



20 

Nagoya, Japan

Population: 2,296,014
Air pollution (PM10): 30
Air pollution (PM2.5): 16
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 63
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 65.49



19 

Philadelphia, United States

Population: 1,567,872
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 56
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 65.59



18 

Yokohama, Japan

Population: 3,726,167
Air pollution (PM10): 29
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 51
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 65.89



17 

Kyoto, Japan

Population: 1,474,570
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 12
Clean City Score: 66.05



16 

Tokyo, Japan

Population: 13,513,734
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 47
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 1
Clean City Score: 70.09


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15 

Phoenix, United States

Population: 1,563,025
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Environmental Performance Score: 71.19
Clean City Score: 66.19



14 

Montreal, Canada

Population: 1,649,519
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 23
Environmental Performance Score: 72.18
Clean City Score: 67.02



13 

Toronto, Canada

Population: 2,731,571
Air pollution (PM10): 14
Air pollution (PM2.5): 8
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 16
Environmental Performance Score: 72.18
Clean City Score: 67.63



12 

Rome, Italy

Population: 2,877,215
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 17
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 57
Environmental Performance Score: 76.96
Clean City Score: 67.96



11 

Melbourne, Australia

Population: 135,959
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 8
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 16
Environmental Performance Score: 74.12
Clean City Score: 68.83



10 

Sapporo, Japan

Population: 1,918,096
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Environmental Performance Score: 74.69
Clean City Score: 68.89



Vienna, Austria

Population: 1,863,881
Air pollution (PM10): 26
Air pollution (PM2.5): 18
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 1
Environmental Performance Score: 78.97
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 2
Clean City Score: 70.17


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Berlin, Germany

Population: 3,517,424
Air pollution (PM10): 24
Air pollution (PM2.5): 16
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 13
Environmental Performance Score: 78.37
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 3
Clean City Score: 70.28



Barcelona, Spain

Population: 1,604,555
Air pollution (PM10): 24
Air pollution (PM2.5): 15
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 42
Environmental Performance Score: 78.39
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 17
Clean City Score: 70.46



Hamburg, Germany

Population: 1,787,408
Air pollution (PM10): 21
Air pollution (PM2.5): 14
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 19
Environmental Performance Score: 78.37
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 9
Clean City Score: 71.32



Auckland, New Zealand

Population: 1,495,000
Air pollution (PM10): 14
Air pollution (PM2.5): 6
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 3
Environmental Performance Score: 75.96
Clean City Score: 71.97



Madrid, Spain

Population: 3,207,247
Air pollution (PM10): 19
Air pollution (PM2.5): 10
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 51
Environmental Performance Score: 78.39
Monocle Quality of Life Rank: 10
Clean City Score: 72.66



New York City, United States

Population: 8,537,673
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 44
Environmental Performance Score: 79.89
Clean City Score: 74.89



Paris, France

Population: 2,229,621
Air pollution (PM10): 28
Air pollution (PM2.5): 18
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 38
Environmental Performance Score: 83.95
Clean City Score: 74.90


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London, United Kingdom

Population: 8,787,892
Air pollution (PM10): 16
Air pollution (PM2.5): 9
Mercer Quality of Living Rank: 40
Environmental Performance Score: 79.89
Clean City Score: 74.94






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Travel Magazine: The 50 Cleanest Cities in the World
The 50 Cleanest Cities in the World
Do you ever wish you could have the best of both worlds? Clean air and bustling city life? Turns out, you can! Here are the 50 cleanest cities in the world.
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