Asia Remains Home to Both the Safest and Least Safe Cities in the World According to The Economist Survey

Wondering where the safest cities in the world to live are? According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s third annual Safe Cities Index, four of the top ten are in Asia, with the three safest — Tokyo, Singapore, and Osaka— remaining unchanged from last year’s ranking.

MORE: Download the Safe Cities Index report from the Economist Intelligence Unit

Rounding out the Top 10 in this year’s report, entitled “Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing World”, were Toronto, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Sydney, Stockholm, Hong Kong, and Zurich with San Francisco being the only American city to break the Top 15.


The survey doesn’t include all cities in the world, ranking a total of 60 major metropolitan areas on 49 factors including healthcare, infrastructure, cyber threats, and personal safety.

This year’s survey, says The Economist, highlighted what it called a stark divergence between the “fast urbanizing developing world” and “stagnant developed world.”

The top cities, in terms of safety, offer top-tier healthcare, accessible public transportation infrastructure, and high real estate costs, while those at the bottom of the list — Ho Chi Minh City, Dhaka, Jakarta, Yangon, and Karachi — are dogged by problems with overcrowding and pollution the report said.


Of cities in developing economies, only Buenos Aires, at #29, managed to make it to the top-half of the list.

Tokyo, which topped the list overall, saw its strongest performance in the digital security category while also rising seven points in the health security category since 2015. However, in infrastructure security, it dropped out of the top ten, to 12th.

Asia’s Great Divide

While Asia scores well at the top of the list, the vast region also takes up much of the bottom said the report:

Of the ten cities at the bottom of the overall index, three are in South-east Asia (Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta), two are in South Asia (Dhaka and Karachi) and two are in the Middle East and Africa (Cairo and Tehran).

The report noted that urban management strategies play a big part in how cities cope with the influx of new residents as “slums and other unplanned urban developments
are expanding, often in areas that lack basic services such as water and sanitation systems.”

“The idea of the city being the source of wealth, or perceived source of wealth, will continue to drive urbanization and, when badly managed, the proliferation of informal settlements,” said Dan Lewis, chief, Urban Risk Reduction Unit and head of the City Resilience Profiling Programme, UN Habitat.

Safe Cities Index Infographic

You can download the complete report here or visit the Economist Safe Cities Index website here.


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