The World's 25 Safest Cities
More than half of the world's population lives in urban areas, and 60 of the world's largest cities are also the most likely to be visited by tourists.
Paris, for example, has 2.1 million residents, yet welcomed more than 23 visitors in 2017. Cairo saw nearly the same number of people who live in the city (9.5 million) come to visit (9 million).
Every year, The Economist Intelligence Unit reviews 57 indicators across personal, infrastructure, health and digital security to create an annual "Safe Cities Index." The index reveals the safest cities in the world not only to live in, but to visit.
On the most recent list for 2019, Paris landed in the top 25, while Cairo missed the mark, landing at No. 55. Which other cities made it to the top ranks? Read on to find out — because when deciding where to go, safety should always be a priority.
Overall Score: 81.4
Spain's biggest city is considered on the smaller side in comparison with other major cities around the world. Although it appears as No. 25 on the Safest Cities Index, in terms of cities between 5 to 10 million people, it is actually in the top 10 for safety.
It's best at infrastructure, even landing in the top 5 for all cities on the list. Where it could use some help is in digital security. Of the cities on this list, it has the worst digital scores, meaning you're at risk every time you log on.
Overall Score: 82.1
The capital of Belgium is considered one of the most prepared cities in terms of keeping its citizens safe, and as home to the World Health Organization and a number of international institutions, that's a very good thing.
The WHO's presence could also be a contributor to the city's high marks in health security, although its best score is in the infrastructure-security sector, which accounts for things like transport safety, road-traffic deaths, air-transport facilities, pedestrian friendliness, and road and rail networks. (All very important features for travelers!)
Overall Score: 82.4
Paris has been a target of terrorists over the years, with horrific consequences. This has caused the city to increase its security, providing more police and military surveillance and giving the City of Lights a high ranking for its personal security standards and measures. The city's infrastructure security is nearly as exemplary.
In the wake of headline-grabbing issues, Paris is working hard to assure its millions of visitors, "Keep coming, we've got your back."
Overall Score: 82.5
Taipei's security across the spectrum doesn't do as much to say "we've got you," with digital and health security earning a weak C average.
Where the city excels is in personal security, where it nabs an 85.8 score. This sector factors in metrics like level of police engagement, use of data-driven techniques to combat crime, effectiveness of the criminal-justice system, and the prevalence of petty, violent and organized crime.
Overall Score: 83.1
As Dallas works to become the next Silicon Valley, leading the way with new IT and tech companies, it is keeping digital security top of mind: In this arena, it scores an excellent 91.3. Officials are dedicated to stopping malware and viruses, and to ensuring residents and tourists are protected from online threats.
20. Hong Kong
Overall Score: 83.7
Hong Kong once appeared on the top-10 list for safest cities, but since 2017, it has landed outside the very upper echelon.
Still, it remains one of the safest cities in the world, especially when it comes to personal security. Hong Kong is praised for high levels of police and community-based patrols, and for its use of data-drive techniques to keep its citizens safe.
However, the city does have issues with corruption and organized crime. And this ranking came out just before a series of pro-democracy protests led to dangerous conflict with Chinese officials.
18. (Tie) Zurich
Overall Score: 84.5
Zurich could be considered a middle-of-the-road city for safety, as it's so-so in terms of preparedness for various threats and holds solid Bs in the areas of digital and health security (80.8), personal security (87.8) and infrastructure security (88.5).
But considering the worst scores for cities drop below 30 points, Zurich's B grades are still enough to earn it a spot on the list of safest cities.
It also excels, landing in 9th place overall, in the realm of "damage and threat multipliers," which assesses the damage caused by threats like natural disasters and terrorism, and attributes that could exacerbate such issues in the future.
18. (Tie) Wellington
Overall Score: 84.5
Like Hong Kong, Wellington is renowned for its personal security, landing in the top 5 on this front. Crime is also low here.
In fact, Wellington probably would've earned a higher spot on the list if not for one notable weakness: illegal drug use. in this area, it comes in at a less-than-great 56th place.
Still, the city — the only in New Zealand to crack the top-60 list — is super-safe overall.
17. Los Angeles
Overall Score: 85.2
Los Angeles does better than most in terms digital security, tying with its northern neighbor, San Francisco, at No. 5.
Though 76 percent of L.A.'s residents have internet access, malware and computer viruses are not as common as they are in other cities, such as, for instance, Kuwait City (where 20 to 30 percent of computers are infected with viruses and malware).
The City of Angels also fares well in the area of infrastructure security, landing at No. 15 with a solid 92.2 score.
Overall Score: 85.4
Leave it to the Germans to score high on the infrastructure security list, earning a whopping 93.7 out of 100 points, enough for a sixth-place finish in this category.
Engineers truly know how to build quality structures and transportation systems here, and they're backed by a government that avoids corruption and, in turn, doesn't partake in corner-cutting.
15. New York City
Overall Score: 85.5
Surprised New York lands on the list of the world's 15 safest cities? Don't be.
True, it's health security isn't anything to write home about, as it scores just 76.1 points for its health-care quality and access, speed of emergency services and air quality. But overall, NYC does a great job at keeping its 8.6 million residents and 62.8 million annual visitors safe, with A ratings in infrastructure and digital security.
Overall Score: 85.7
London may have higher terrorism concerns than most cities around the world, but it works extremely hard to protect its 30 million visitors and 8.1 million residents every year. Practically mirroring New York's numbers, London is only slightly (3.9 points) better in the area of health-care security, earning it a superior position on the list.
Interestingly, it is noted by the Safe Cities Index that London's Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat results in police working to find care for individuals who otherwise might've wound up in jail, bringing crime rates down.
13. San Francisco
Overall Score: 85.9
Like L.A., its fellow big-name city in California, San Francisco ranks No. 5 for digital safety.
Infrastructure security is also above and beyond here. Though many fret about San Francisco's location along the San Andreas Fault, making it prone to earthquakes, the city has worked hard to make sure it's prepared for any large eruptions that could occur in the coming decades. (Phew!)
Overall Score: 86.5
Along with Amsterdam, Stockholm is the best city in Europe when it comes to health security; the two metropolises tie for 4th when it comes to factors like environmental policies, access to health care, number of doctors, and access to safe and quality food.
Turns out the Swedish and Dutch do a fantastic job at keeping their citizens (and visitors) healthy and happy.
Overall Score: 86.7
Health security needs some revamping in Chicago, which got a score of 77.1 points on this front, landing at 19th place.
Where the city shines is in its top-notch infrastructure security (No. 11) and digital security (No. 3).
It would seem, in fact, that these two categories go hand in hand. When reviewing the data, both are found to benefit from financial support, which Chicago has far more of than, for example, a low-ranking city like Quito.
Overall Score: 87.3
According to a 2019 Time Out survey, this Australian city is the happiest in the world. Surely, a strong sense of safety has played a crucial role in the sense of contentment locals enjoy.
Safety and happiness are very much related overall; the Safe Cities Index found that the best-performing cities are more developed and have stronger governments, which play a role in citizen satisfaction as well.
8. (Tie) Seoul
Overall Score: 87.4
The region that hands-down fares best on this list is Asia-Pacific, home to six of the top 10 safest cities. It seems this part of the world is doing a bang-up job keeping its cities guarded.
Seoul is the No. 3 city for health security (the top two are also in Asia), meaning it's tops at providing safe food, water and air, as well as generous health-care access and emergency services.
8. (Tie) Copenhagen
Overall Score: 87.4
Copenhagen, Denmark lands at No. 2 in the world for providing personal security. Its residents perceive the city as very safe, with low levels of petty and violent crimes.
The destination is also one of only 25 places where city planners consider disaster risk when making additions or changes to infrastructure.
7. Washington, D.C.
Overall Score: 87.6
It makes perfect sense that Washington, D.C. ranks No. 4 in digital security: This is the home of the U.S. government, after all. Keeping secrets safe means regular Joes in the city enjoy great digital security as well.
Infrastructure safety is also better here than in most cities, with the nation's capital besting all but nine other destinations on this front.
Overall Score: 87.8
The only other city in North America besides Washington, D.C. to make it to the top 10, Toronto is actually the second safest city in the world in its population category. Among cities with 5 to 10 million people, it is bested only by Singapore.
Rather than shining in one or two areas, Toronto's security levels across the board are very steady, giving it a high overall ranking.
Overall Score: 87.9
Like its sister city of Melbourne, Sydney is considered one of the most free-from-danger on the Safest Cities Index.
This could in part be attributed to its wealth, which researchers note plays an important role in safety. Sydney is poised to become one of the five wealthiest cities in the world over the next decade, and has been investing its growing resources into digital, infrastructure and personal security measures.
Overall Score: 88
As previously mentioned, Amsterdam ties with Stockholm for having the fourth-best health security in the world.
Add to that a stellar 99.2 score when it comes to preparedness for future shocks, and it's easy to see why this is one of the safest cities in the world — and the safest in all of Europe.
Overall Score: 90.9
Osaka, Japan lands at No. 2 in terms of pedestrian-, development- and community-friendly infrastructure — though, notably, it is the worst of the top five when it comes to air-travel infrastructure specifically.
The city is even better at health, reigning as the world leader in securing the wellness of its people and visitors.
This bustling Asian city also narrowly missed out on a top-10 spot for digital security (11th), making it a great place overall to enjoy a low-stress trip.
Overall Score: 91.5
Singapore, the No. 2 safest city in the world, is tops in two categories: infrastructure security and personal security. It scores a superb 96.9 in the former and 95.3 in the latter.
As a point of comparison, the worst on the list for infrastructure, Caracas, gets a score of 27.3, while the worst for personal security, Lagos, has a 38.7.
Overall Score: 92
The safest city of them all is, like third-place-finisher Osaka, also located in Japan. And it excels on virtually every front.
In terms of infrastructure security and personal security, it lands at No. 4; in the realm of health security, it's No. 2; and it leads on digital security.
The city, filled with more than 20 million residents, is well-positioned to keep not just locals safe, but visitors too — which is good news considering it will be hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.