What is the cleanest city in the world? The top 20 cleanest cities ranked

What is the cleanest city in the world? The top 20 cleanest cities ranked

Definitions of cleanliness vary from person to person. A clean city isn't necessarily spotless for eating off the streets. It can lack trash, have clean water, and have good air quality. To be clear, people need to solve issues that cause unhealthiness: waste management, eco-friendly transport, litter prevention, and clean policies. So, what is the cleanest city in the world?

Image of Copenhagen, Denmark (R), Honolulu USA (M) and Kigali, Ruanda (L)
The cleanest city in the world is not just about picking up litter; it results from meticulous planning and consistent effort. Photo: Michael, Alexander Spatari and Vicki Jauron (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

TABLE OF CONTENTS

We compiled the list of the cleanest cities in the world by considering factors such as waste management systems, air and water quality, green spaces, and public cleanliness initiatives. We also considered data sourced from IQAir and the World Population Review.

What is the cleanest city in the world?

The cleanest city in the world is not just about picking up litter; it results from meticulous planning and consistent effort. Public cleanliness initiatives, such as regular street cleaning and awareness campaigns, instil a culture of cleanliness among citizens.

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CityCountry
AucklandNew Zealand
HamburgGermany
Chicago USA
ScheffervilleQuebec
PortlandUSA
San FranciscoUSA
CopenhagenDenmark
Melbourne Australia
Honolulu USA
MadridSpain
CuritibaBrazil
Salt Lake CityUSA
GenevaSwitzerland
ViennaAustria
Kigali Rwanda
WellingtonNew Zealand
ZurichSwitzerland
OsloNorway
TrondheimNorway
SeattleUSA

1. Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand was ranked among the world's cleanest cities in 2023, alongside Iceland and Estonia. Photo: Scott E Barbour
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 5,600 km²
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Population: 1.657 million

With an air quality score of 4.3 μg/m³ of fine particulate pollution compared to a baseline of 5 in the World Air Quality Report 2023, New Zealand was ranked among the world's cleanest cities, alongside Iceland and Estonia. The city has maintained its healthy standards because it has cleaned up and gone green.

2. Hamburg

Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany. Photo: Westend61
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 755.3 km²
  • Country: Germany
  • Population: 1.841 million

Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, has garnered acclaim as one of the cleanest cities globally due to its longstanding commitment to environmental initiatives. The city aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Additionally, Hamburg's authorities have unveiled plans for a Green Network.

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3. Chicago

Family walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago
Chicago, home to more than 2.7 million inhabitants, is the third largest city in the USA. Photo: Rebecca Nelson
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 600 km²
  • Country: USA
  • Population: 2.665 million

Chicago, home to more than 2.6 million inhabitants, is the third largest city in the USA and is renowned for its cleanliness and environmentally conscious practices. To enhance air quality, Chicago has installed over 186,000 square meters of rooftop gardens across the city. Moreover, it actively promotes the utilisation of public transportation among residents to minimise emissions.

4. Schefferville

Quebec City Park has a view of the Historical Frontenac Castle and the Old District.
Schefferville, Quebec, is the cleanest city in Canada. Photo: Buzbuzze
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 24.76 km²
  • Country: Canada
  • Population: 244

Which is the cleanest city in Canada? According to MADE IN CA, Schefferville, Quebec, is the cleanest city in Canada. Canada is a vast country in North America, second to Russia in size. Schefferville is located within the Caniapiscau Regional County Municipality and has an area of 24.76 square kilometres.

5. Portland

Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland is often lauded as one of the most environmentally aware cities globally. Photo: David Gn Photography
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 375.6 km²
  • Country: USA
  • Population: 635,067

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Known as the "City of Roses," Portland is often lauded as one of the most environmentally aware cities globally due to its excellent walkability, extensive cycling community, emphasis on farm-to-table dining, and comprehensive public transportation system, hence reducing air pollution by motor vehicles.

6. San Francisco

Buildings called Painted Ladies and Downtown of San Francisco
San Francisco received a perfect score of 50 for its drinking water and performed well in air quality. Photo: Tunart
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 121.4 km²
  • Country: USA
  • Population: 808,437

Reader's Digest named San Francisco the nation's fifth cleanest city among 50 large metropolitan areas in 2005. The ranking considered air quality, water pollution, toxic emissions, waste management, and sanitation. San Francisco received a perfect score of 50 for its drinking water and performed well in air quality.

7. Copenhagen

Mountain Dwellings, Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is celebrated for its eco-friendliness. Photo: Haitong Yu
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 121.4 km²
  • Country: USA
  • Population: 808,437

Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is celebrated for its eco-friendliness. Its dedication to environmental excellence earned it twice the title of a top green city in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index. The city invests heavily in sewage treatment and is mainly powered by wind and solar energy.

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8. Melbourne

Melbourne City at night
Melbourne, renowned for its cleanliness and greenery, was crowned the world's most livable city by The Economist for five consecutive years until 2015. Photo: James O'Neil
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 9,992 km²
  • Country: Australia
  • Population: 5.078 million

Melbourne, renowned for its cleanliness and greenery, was crowned the world's most livable city by The Economist for five consecutive years until 2015. This achievement results from deliberate efforts by the city's administrators to enhance various aspects, including public transport and green spaces, making Melbourne a delightful place to live in Australia and globally.

9. Honolulu

Honolulu, Hawaii resorts Waikiki beach in the afternoon sun.
Hawaii is universally recognised for its beauty, and its capital, Honolulu, stands out as one of the world's cleanest cities. Photo: M Swiet Productions
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 177.2 km²
  • Country: USA
  • Population: 343,421

Hawaii is universally recognised for its beauty, and its capital, Honolulu, stands out as one of the world's cleanest cities. Stunning mountains and diverse plant life surround Honolulu. The city was recently ranked 29th on clean energy progress among US cities.

10. Madrid

Skyline of Madrid with Metropolis Building and Gra
Madrid, Spain, ranks among the world's cleanest cities. Photo: Sylvain sonnet
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 604.3 km²
  • Country: Spain
  • Population: 3.223 million

Madrid, Spain, ranks among the world's cleanest cities. Residents take great pride in maintaining its cleanliness, and the city's proximity to the Manzanares River further enhances its tidiness.

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11. Curitiba

Botanical garden in Curitiba in spring and its flowers.
Curitiba city motivates residents to maintain cleanliness. Photo: Carlos Bezz
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 432 km²
  • Country: Brazil
  • Population: 3,852,459

Although Brazil isn't typically known for cleanliness, Curitiba stands out. The city motivates residents to maintain cleanliness by offering incentives like delicious food or bus tokens in exchange for sorted waste. This approach results in recycling up to 70% of the city's trash, with paper recycling alone saving 1,200 trees daily.

12. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, USA
Salt Lake City is one of the leading urban regions in terms of reducing air pollution. Photo: Maremagnum
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 287 km²
  • County: USA
  • Population: 204,657

Salt Lake City is one of the leading urban regions in the USA regarding reducing pollution caused by transportation. StreetLight Data’s 2024 Climate Impact Index ranked Salt Lake City as 15th out of 100 for reducing pollution.

13. Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva is well-known as one of the richest, priciest, friendliest, and safest cities globally. Photo: Alberto Mazza
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 15.93 km²
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Population: 198,979

Geneva is well-known as one of the richest, priciest, friendliest, and safest cities globally. It also shines in environmental efforts and cleanliness, starting with urban sanitation and sewage management. The city boasts of hosting The Geneva Environment Network, a coalition of global groups dedicated to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development.

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14. Vienna

Vienna Austria
Vienna is Austria's primary city, with around 1.8 million people. Photo: Alexander Spatari
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 414.6 km²
  • Country: Austria
  • Population: 1.897 million

Vienna, Austria's primary city with over 1.8 million people, is often rated as one of the cleanest cities globally. It achieved this through significant investments in waste management. Residents' strong environmental awareness also contributes to keeping the city exceptionally clean.

15. Kigali

The city of Kigali, Rwanda
Rwandans take great pride in their city's recognition as the cleanest in Africa. Photo: Edwin Remsberg
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 730 km²
  • Country: Rwanda
  • Population: 1,287,952

What is the cleanest city in Africa? Kigali, Rwanda, was voted the cleanest city in Africa. Rwandans take great pride in their city's recognition as the cleanest in Africa. The city imposed heavy fines for litterers. In addition, rubbish bins were installed across the city to keep people and tourists from littering, thus helping with garbage management.

16. Wellington

Lampton Quay in downtown Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand's capital and a major city. Photo: Rick Friedman
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 444 km²
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Population: 212,700

Wellington, New Zealand's capital and a major city, is known for its cleanliness and preservation of natural attractions. Over a third of residents prefer public transport, helping to minimise air pollution.

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17. Zurich

The skyline of Zurich with Fraumunster church, River Limmat and Lake Zurich from Grossmunster church.
Zurich City is known for its pristine environment and commitment to sustainability. Photo: Allan Baxter
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 87.88 km²
  • County: Switzerland
  • Population: 402,762

Zurich, Switzerland, stands out among cities with the best air quality globally. Renowned for its pristine environment and commitment to sustainability, Zurich's urban landscape harmoniously blends modernity with nature. Its efficient public transportation system encourages residents to rely less on cars, thus minimising pollution levels

18. Oslo

View of Oslo City Hall, Harbour and Skyline
Oslo is known for being one of the priciest cities in the world. Photo: Artie Photography
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 454 km²
  • Country: Norway
  • Population: 702,543

Oslo, the capital of Norway, is famous for being one of the priciest cities globally. However, those who can afford it experience fresh air and a spotless environment. Getting around Oslo is convenient by public transport or renting bikes. In 2007, Reader's Digest rated Oslo as the second greenest and most livable city worldwide.

19. Trondheim

Trondheim views at sunset time from Old Town Bridge.
Trondheim is one of the cleanest cities in the world. Photo: Peeterv
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 321.8 km²
  • Country: Norway
  • Population: 212,660

Trondheim, another Scandinavian city, proudly joins the list of the cities with the best air quality. This is mainly due to its low levels of PM2.5, measuring around 4.77 µg/m3 per year.

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The city has maintained its position by adopting road cleaning machinery to clean multiple surfaces and using Energy-Smart Nidaros Cathedral, which produces more clean and environmentally friendly energy.

20. Seattle

Space Needle and Downtown Seattle
Seattle is renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery and bustling big tech industry. Photo: Caroline Purser
Source: Getty Images
  • Total area: 217 km²
  • Country: USA
  • Population: 749,256

Seattle, also known as the Emerald City, is renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery and bustling big tech industry. It is also well-ranked among the cleanest cities in the US. The city's reputation is attributed to its meticulously maintained infrastructure, exceptional waste management system, and significant investment in public transportation.

Which city is known as the cleanest city?

Which is the no. 1 cleanest city in the world? Copenhagen, Denmark, is the cleanest city in the world and one of the safest metropolises globally.

The cleanest city in the world sparkles with neat streets and fresh air. Every park and corner feels like a breath of fresh air, and green spaces make it a joy to walk around. People here take pride in tidying their city, and everyone pitches in to make it spotless.

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Yen.com.gh recently published an interesting article on Ghana's regions and their capitals. Ghana is considered a stable country in the west of Africa, among the peaceful ones on the continent.

Ghana has 16 areas where it had to hold a referendum in some parts to carve new regions. This was after the president promised his people a better governorship from within in 2016 when he was campaigning. Read on to learn more about the country, its capital, and all its regions.

Source: YEN.com.gh

Authors:
Peris Wamangu avatar

Peris Wamangu (Lifestyle writer) Peris Wamangu is a reporter with more than four years of experience as a content writer. Peris joined Yen in 2024. Before that, she worked with Legit's team from 2021 to 2024. Peris graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Nairobi in 2019. She enjoys writing about various topics such as fashion, currency, biographies, entertainment and business. In 2023, Peris finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. Email: wamanguperis@gmail.com

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