Wednesday, April 22, 2009

World’s CLEANEST Countries


Score: 95.5

No. 1 Overall; No. 1 in the E.U.

The world’s fifth most affluent nation on a GDP-per-capita basis is also the world’s cleanest.
Switzerland scores a perfect 100 in eight environmental indicators, including sanitation and water quality,
forest health and pesticide regulation. All that cleanliness translates into a life expectancy of 81 years for the Swiss.
But Switzerland’s mountainous landscape forces farmers to grow crops on every slope and in every cranny,
reducing the country to a merely average score in agricultural practices.


Score: 93.1

No. 2 Overall (tie); No. 2 in the E.U. (tie)

Sweden scores strongly in most environmental areas that directly affect human health. The country has low levels of

airborne pollution, pristine drinking water and low per-capita emissions of greenhouse gasses. Nine million Swedes

also treat their forests with utmost care–the country earns a perfect score for forest management.

But they’re not nearly as careful offshore, earning a score of just 26 for slack protection of marine areas. Costa Rica

Score: 93.1

No. 2 Overall (tie); No. 2 in the E.U. (tie)

European countries stand out in environmental health, the effect of pollutants on human well-being. Norway, the world’s third richest country,

scores a perfect 100 in water quality, sanitation, ozone levels and airborne particulates, which means Norwegians have a lesser likelihood

of respiratory disease. Hydro power generates 98% of Norway’s electricity, but offshore oil rigs generate substantial greenhouses gasses

Costa Rica

Score: 90.5

No. 5 Overall; No. 1 in the Americas

Costa Rica’s economy relies on a robust ecotourism industry, and the care it takes for its environment shows.

The Central American country ranks fifth in the global Environmental Index, a rating that should only improve as it

strives to become carbon-neutral by 2021. Costa Rica has avoided the deforestation that ravages some Latin American countries:

the country earns a score of 97 or better in the categories of forestry, air pollution and climate change.

But the country isn’t as kind to its offshore environment, scoring abysmally in the marine protected areas category.


Score: 88.3

No. 9 Overall; No. 2 in the Americas

Colombia’s relative prosperity is tied to the productivity of its land, specifically agricultural products like coffee and flowers

that provide export income. The South American country preserves the quality of its crop land by making sure that soil is

allowed to lie fallow–at least 40% of cropping areas are left uncultivated at any given time–earning Colombia a 99.9 score in

the intensive crop land category. Columbia’s clean environment makes for a healthy population with a life expectancy of 73 years.

New Zealand

Score: 88.9

No. 7 Overall; No. 1 in Asia and Pacific

Sparsely populated New Zealand is an outdoorsman’s paradise, and the country pays great attention to maintaining its environment.

New Zealand scores 84.9 on the effective conservation index, far outpacing its regional and economic peers, which earn an average a

score of 30. New Zealand earns near-perfect scores for water and air quality as well. But the country’s industry and utility sectors are dirty,

generating more than their fair share of CO2.


Score: 84.5

No. 21 Overall; No. 2 in Asia and Pacific

Japan’s life expectancy of 82.12 years is the world’s longest, due in part to the country’s excellent sanitation infrastructure,

avoidance of chemical pesticides and relatively low levels of air pollution. Japan even gets a perfect score of 100

for its efforts to conserve forests. But overfishing of coastal waters earns Japan a score of 81.6

for the measure of marine biodiversity, vs. 88.8 for its regional peers.


Score: 84.6

No. 20 Overall; No. 1 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Croatia recognizes the value of tourism and makes clean beaches a priority. The country, which lies across the Adriatic Sea from Italy,

offers visitors ample, healthy fishing stocks and freedom from waterborne disease. But the legacy of decades of communist rule endures:

Soviet-era industry pumps out greenhouse gasses and particulates, causing the country’s air quality to suffer. Croatia’s overall biodiversity

index score is just 14, vs. a still-weak 34.8 for the region.


Score: 84

No. 25 Overall; No. 2 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Albania, like its Eastern European peers, is no environmental superstar. But the country has never fully industrialized–it’s per-capita GDP is just $6,000–

saving it from toxic development that continues to handicap the region. The lack of industry means Albania produces little greenhouse gas and rates a

near-perfect 99.1 for its low level of ozone. But the propensity for wood-burning heating causes Albania to rate just 47.7 on the indoor air pollution index.


Score: 79.6

No. 49 Overall; No. 1 in the Middle East and North Africa

The 7.2 million residents of Israel enjoy water quality, sanitation and air quality scores that rival those in Europe’s cleanest countries,

contributing to a life expectancy of 81 years. The generally dry country even scores a 100 for the management of its limited forests.

But Israel scores an abysmal 4.5 out of 100 on pesticide regulation, vs. an average of 56.4 for the region, suggesting toxic chemicals

may find their way into the food supply.

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