Revealed: The world's safest (and least safe) cities

Oliver Smith
Tokyo, the safest city on Earth - ©TTstudio - stock.adobe.com

Risk-averse travellers would do well to head to the Far East, with a new report suggesting Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka are the three safest cities in the world.

The Safe Cities Index 2017, produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked 60 major cities, looking at everything from crime rates and road safety to digital security and quality of healthcare.

The Japanese capital, number one in the last Safe Cities Index, published in 2015, held onto the top spot with an overall score of 89.8. Of the four main categories, it came first for digital security, second for health security, fourth for personal security and 12th for infrastructure security.

As in 2015, Singapore and Osaka came second and third overall, but there were changes elsewhere in the top 10. Stockholm, fourth in 2015, slipped to eighth; Amsterdam fell one place to sixth; Zurich fell from seventh to 10th; and New York plummeted from 10th to 21st. Rising up the rankings are Toronto (from eighth to fourth), Melbourne (ninth to fifth), and Hong Kong (11th to ninth).

London came 20th, two places lower than last time around, while San Francisco was named the safest major US city, at number 15.

At the other end of the table was Karachi, with an overall score of 38.77, followed by Yangon, Dhaka, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City.

At a glance | The world's 10 safest (and 10 least safe) cities

In general, the world is becoming more dangerous, the report found. “With two exceptions (Madrid, which is up 13 points and Seoul, up six), cities tend to have fallen in the index since 2015,” it said. “For example, New York is down 11 points, Lima is down 13, Johannesburg is down nine, Ho Chi Minh City is down 10 and Jakarta is down 13.”

Of the bottom city, Karachi, it said: “Although it performs poorly across all of the categories, it was dragged down by a very low level of personal security (60th). This is a reflection of a number of factors, but the main reason is that among the cities in the index, it experiences by far the most frequent and most severe terrorist attacks.”

It was quick to point out, however, that the impact of terror attacks, in terms of fatalities, pales in comparison to the deaths caused by traffic accidents. Around 30,000 deaths each year are linked to terror, it says, while 1.2 million are killed in car accidents.

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The world's safest countries

The World Economic Forum's (WEF) latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, meanwhile, published in April, found that Finland is the safest country on Earth. 

Those countries shown in lighter colours on the map above rated highest for “safety and security”. The presence of the United Arab Emirates and Oman in the top five, and Qatar in the top 10, will no doubt surprise many given their location in the troubled Middle East. Rwanda, in ninth, ahead of countries such as Portugal and New Zealand, to name just two, will also raise eyebrows. 

Equally remarkable is the UK's lowly position. It's down in 78th, below the likes of Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and Nicaragua, among others. 


At a glance | The world's safest countries