Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Top 10 Most Environmentally Friendly Nations

The 2010 Environmental Performance Index, which ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality, has been released, and it’s worth looking at in closer detail for the aspiring expat or the eco-conscious traveler. These are the places with the most pristine environments, cleanest waters, most startling biodiversity and even some of the best public transportation or health– definitely things that should be on the top of any soon-to-be expat’s mind.

1. Iceland


Iceland is known for getting virtually all of its power from renewable energy. They are blessed with rich geothermal resources and roaring rivers for hydroelectic power.

2. Switzerland


Switzerland is among the several European nations on this list well known for their environmental and green efforts. But Switzerland is particularly noteworthy for their stewardship and “clean freak” mentality. Pristine waters fed from alpine glaciers certainly help to inspire!

3. Costa Rica


Costa Rica’s rainforest conservation programs are renowned around the world. This is one country that knows its most precious resources need to be protected.

4. Sweden


Scandinavian nations invest heavily in their clean environments, and Sweden tops the list for Northern Europe. Count clean energy sources, efficient public transportation (like green-friendly rail networks) and top notch health care as reasons for the high ranking.

5. Norway


Norway is a land known for its natural beauty and glorious fjords, but they keep it pristine with their public policy. That dramatic scenery is an invaluable national treasure which is well protected by progressive environmental legislation across the board!

6. Mauritius


This breathtaking island nation off Africa’s coast in the Indian Ocean was once home to the now extinct Dodo bird. Luckily, they learned their lesson. Today Mauritius has a “Ministry Of Environment” which is responsible for the cleanliness of the island, and they have a very effective anti-litter campaign.

7. France


France has a reputation for their eco-snobbery, but it has a pay off for anyone who has ever been to the French countryside. Although controversial, most of their power comes from nuclear energy, which despite producing nuclear waste does not produce any carbon emissions.

8. Austria


Austria is last among the three alpine or alp-bordering nations on the list, a testament to the pristine nature of those mountains. Cleanliness is an ingrained aspect of the Austrian culture, and their landscape is among the most awe-inspiring in the world.

9. Cuba


Clean, clear waters are a big reason this wondrous Caribbean island made the list. It’s a shame that embargoes are still in place preventing U.S. tourists from fully enjoying this island paradise.

10. Colombia


Colombia has come a long way in recent years and is no longer a strictly dangerous place to live or travel. And it’s a beautiful country too! The nation is one of the world leaders in fuel-efficient mass transit, making it one of this list’s biggest surprises.


53 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Environmentally Friendly Nations

  1. Cool post. At some point the environmental performance index maybe ought to consider including weighing the timeless storage, safeguarding and securing of radioactive waste in it’s assessment of what environmentally friendly means.

  2. >>which despite producing nuclear waste does not produce any carbon emissions.

    Not quite true. Total carbon emissions for nuclear power are certainly lower than, say, burning coal, but it’s not actually carbon neutral. Especially not when you look at the whole lifecycle from digging uranium out of the ground to dispose of the waste.

  3. Quebec,” a country within a country” does well with Hydro power not nuclear as the rest of Canada has done!

  4. This is such a crappy article… looks more like a tourist agency ad… “top notch health care, clear beaches, beautiful landscape, breathtaking island… Why is environmental friendliness in the title? It should be ” 10 countries you should visit”

  5. We (the USA) must do better at solving our enviro issues. We need to take a stand on energy, and let the alternatives take root. Get the big oil out of the way. Clean up our act and move forward. Going green must be more than just a slogan.

  6. I miss germany from this list, since they’ve done a lot of developing of renewable energy technology since the middle of the nineties and are the leading developer for some technologies, that in the end allow other countries to be green at all. it should definitely be before france, as nuclear energy doesn’t really count as enviromental. I still do prefer it over coal or oil, but still, sun or water is better.

    this list could also be read as the top 10 of least industrialized, but still nice and safe to travel countries, since countries with not much or no industry at all, are, of course, green.

  7. Dear Quebec Lover – I too like Quebec, but it is not the only Canadian province using a non-coal electricity source. BC is also mostly Hydroelectrically powered; and PEI has put in significant efforts to increase wind production (North Cod). Alberta should be ashamed of its main power source (coal), but we are as diverse a people as anywhere…big space + lots of resources = different ways to skin a cat 🙂

  8. this is nice list. I wonder how can sweden within the list. the country is the world biggest consumers on wood pellet, which release GHG’s when it burned

  9. Never learned how to keep a secret huh?
    Remember when “Arizona” was considered a great place for anyone with breathing problems – until they filled the air with all the greenery from home! Not even to mention the carbon footprint of web sites & emails….

  10. Cuba? France? This is the most ridiculus list ever pretending to be factual and unbiased.

    For those of you who believe this list represents actual facts, I pity you. You are too ignorant to be reasoned with.

    Thankfully, some of you actually questioned it!

  11. How can you possibly call a country that depends mostly on nuclear power in the top 10 of environmentally friendly countries? For millions of year the waste products of nuclear power will harm the environment severely. In fact I would call a country mostly depending on coal friendlier to the environment because aside from a yet to be proven link between burning coal and global climate change the negative effect of coal are nothing compared to those of nuclear waste.

    This is just what struck me most when reading your list but honestly, like others have pointed out, your list seems to be lacking in factors affecting the environment. There is more to it than carbon dioxide. Please, do not try to argue this; look into it more and make another list.

  12. Cuba clean??? C’mon have you ever been there??? Sure the beaches are beautiful, but their waste management and litter problems are horrible!

  13. I think many many places here in my country, Indonesia are very beautiful than places above.. And I think every country has spesific and unique identity with nature place..

  14. France in 7th place, is it a joke …

    What about the amazing developement of nuclear plants, high pollution of water, tons of pesticides used every year… etc …etc…

    I think something’s wrong with this chart.

  15. Germany is not on that list because it is one of the top 10 largest carbon polluters in the world. Yes has come a long way and is making great efforts to reduce but still a top 10 nation. So till that is done Germany should be off that list. Personally I think Norway should be off that list for allowing commercial whaling, hence killing whales to sell meat to Japan. Poor environmental choice. France….???? I mean really?

  16. Cuba is one of the most polluted countries in the world. You can even see the raw sewage being dumped directly into the rivers – from space using Google Maps.

    However, they do have excellent control of all information on the island and can get people the world around to believe anything the regime wants…

  17. lol Phil, I laughed at the Costa Rica picture too 🙂

    And carbon emissions? Have we not yet learned here that carbon is not the killer? Please stay current in science. Nuclear reactors will do much more damage in the long run. Chernobyl waves to you. That nuclear waste has to go somewhere, someday.

  18. “Kacari says: We are building a better country. Visit Colombia.”
    Yes, ’cause we all know birds, their shit and insects are totally unnatural and are ruining the earth by contaminating it.

    To those who don’t pick up on sarcasm: THAT WAS SARCASTIC.
    Also, as it says in the text on Costa Rica, it preserves it’s rainforest, and there are extremely many insects. Like, EXTREMELY many.

  19. Here is what I meant to quote:

    “phil says: I like how costa rica’s picture is some insects eating bird shit off of a leaf”

  20. Nuclear Plants are meant to produce clean power and they do, the problem is of course waste, doesn’t mean someone somewhere won’t come up with a plan to utilize this waste or come up with a method to discard it toxic free

  21. Cuba? Please get your information from accurate sources. Yes, Cuba have beautiful beaches however you failed to mentioned that most of these paradisiac locations are only available to tourists. Right, and this is not controlled by the “embargo” but by the same old dictatorship that have brought this flourishing country to the likes of Haiti. Perhaps, you should have included Cuba in the list of the ten most corrupted countries with the likes of Haiti, Sudan etc. The embargo is just another perpetuated lie from those cynics ruling for over 50 year autocratically the country. Havana is a dirty decaying capital, the inner towns are in shambles, the infrastructure of the country is archaic, there is no waste management, flies are all over festering on rotten waste lingering in the streets. In addition the deforestation of the country is rampant. Just evaluate satellites pictures from Cuba for the past 50 years and you will noticed the deforestation of this country once known as the “green crocodile island”
    Please, next time don’t deceive your readers with such innaccuracies.

  22. A major reason for why I will not be voting for either of the main parties in the upcoming election. Neither really seem to give a shit about the environment.

  23. Was this list sponsored by the tourist boards of the featured countries? For your information, the eco-paradise Costa Rica has the least amount of virgin old growth rain forest left in all of Central America with the exception of El Salvador. According to their own published data only 6% remain. Certain environmental groups say it’s more like 4% and logging still continues. Nicaragua on the other hand has almost 40% of its original rain forest cover left, without being hyped as an eco-destination. Besides, the beaches and forests are littered with plastic garbage and you can smell the burning garbage wherever you go. Over-development keeps degrading coastal areas and the country is renowned as a Chinese shark finning mafia outpost.

  24. Some of the responses about this article talk about why “Top-Notch healthcare” and “great beaches”…etc. are mentioned. Simple, healthcare and clean environments are intertwined, in that, a clean environment is essential to health, and is promoted by the healthcare system. Pristine beaches and landscape are a direct result of anti-pollution and pro-environment laws and practices. Go to a country where the environment is non-essential and pollution from industry and cities is un-checked, and trust me, you will see why there isn’t anything “pristine” about it, and healthcare is a joke. Just recently, it has been confirmed that cancer is a disease that is man-made, as a result of pollution and chemicals in the environment caused by the greed of industry, who won’t spend a dime of their billions or trillions to change their ways or to combat it, unless they are forced to….especially in the United States. Instead of using fossil fuels as a declining buffer, until we get up to speed on clean energy, our politicians keep playing “butler” to the oil and coal industry, with the ill-spoken attitude of Sarah Palin of….”Drill Baby Drill”. I am a conservative leaning Independent, but even I know we cannot continue this path. It is destructive to the environment and to our health…for all of us including our children. There is nothing wrong with making money, but the way in which it is done has to change, and the “old Bull Industries” have to wake up and play by the majority will and quit “buying” THEIR will from the politicians. It is time to change.

  25. This list is garbage.

    And for Cherie,

    Coal is your gripe about Alberta? How about the tar sands? They waste so much natural gas and water trying to extract the oil from the sand. Its a shame to see what they are doing in order of the all mighty petroleum. Look up tailing ponds.

    I live in BC and hydro is a blot too. In theory hydro electricity makes sense but when you destroy rivers and Eco-systems in the process it can hardly be something to brag about.

    Quebec is just as guilty in there hydro electricity placements as well. Canada should be setting standards in environmental concerns but when we are ruled be right winged conservatives you should read a little bit before you start skinning cats.

  26. Living in France, I can certify that this country is mostly untidy, with strewn garbage along roads , dog crap in the streets, and a general attitude of carelessness (worse in the south of the country) towards
    the maintenance of the environment.

  27. am from mauritius, and its all rubbish here, it used to be a beautiful island, back in the 90s, with trees everywhere, now, its all about the development, and theres not much trees , plus, it pews everywhere u go, especially in the capital!

    well, i wanna ask anyone, who can help me find country where theres lot of trees, plz

  28. I think that this ranking is not serious at all, the author needs to use the same classification criteria to pick up countries (and publish it…i don’t see it here), and of course travel and READ much more!….otherwise it looks like a cheap tourist advertisement.

    i don’t think that the beautiful beaches of Varadero in Cuba (ah!…being forbidden only to tourists from US) can be compared to the country’s environmental problems….also a beautiful atomic France shouldn’t be on the list only because of the friendliness of a small region.

    If we follow such criteria, then we should put countries like Ecuador and its incredible Galapagos islands, Russia and its kamchatka volcano region or Siberia, New Zealand and its forests or Taiwan for its big efforts towards clean energy.

    please be serious, it looks like you are getting money for this.

  29. haha Funny how none of the most developed major economies of the world are here except France!

  30. I live in india, and on seeing and knowing about these environment friendly nations, i feel that i am not at all a part of this beatiful but destroyed world.
    i always believe in nature.
    its none but nature that gives us so important things,,,
    we get air to breathe, water for daily life and more…

  31. It is great to hear that they have included Costa Rica!!! We are doing a great effort in offering our visitors an experience which is based on sustainability and our love to nature!!!!

  32. Mauritius has learned its lesson? I’ll thik you find it wasn’t the indigenous peoples who killed off the dodo, but rather colonialists…

  33. Costa Rica only treats 2.6% of human waste. Nearly all waste enters the rivers that flow through San Jose and drain into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Nicoya.

    Also, there is all the destruction of mangroves and forests that the super corrupt goverment has let happen to accomodate huge developments. Pushing laws for water exploitation, open pit cyanide gold mines, laws that make natural reserves smaller, etc.

    Do not be fooled by the nice monkey pictures.

  34. Wow iceland is over beautiful wish it was where I live would be always proud and non embarassed of ma self jah neh. Life is good to sme people.I’m packin ma bags I’m goin to iceland. LOL

  35. DAAAAA…what’s an environment? Is it like the stuff when it looks clean and stuff, or is it like the stuff is pretty and stuff…DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA..

    We are all going to hell, mother earth can’t even walk from being gang raped by billions, see all you morons there!


  37. got to check this environmental performance index b.s more carefully. I’m from costa and i have to say yeah there are a bunch of national parks and decent public health, terrible public transportation in regard to environmental impact, i have to be honest avg costa rican can’t recycle for s**t, cities have terrible (to put it nicely) waste water treatment records and many rivers in SJO and other major cities are “toxic” from the level of fecal coliforms, same with some well known beaches. Not sure CR should be in this list, although our biodiversity and percentage of protected land is something to feel good about, it has not change much of the culture or actions towards non-protected areas such as cities, in which people are nasty.

  38. The US? You’ve got to be kidding! The US might be the least environmentally conscious country in the world. The people are very friendly, but the government policies are appalling! Poverty, war, greed and self-righteousness are destroying what could be a great nation. Obama, wake up and do the things you spoke of in your campaign for president. Just do it!

  39. I have been to Cuba twice under the people to people license in recent years and am a living testament that the country is breathtaking. Containing many UNESCO Biospheres and some of the most preserved coral reefs on the planet, Cuba certainly deserves to be higher on this list. Anyone else agree?

  40. Costa Rica may be preserving its forests, but the rivers are polluted with sewage. Very little waste water is treated. Also there is litter everywhere.

  41. @Ryan
    well maybe cuba is, but other countries like switzerland, sweden, norway,
    are both very developed and industrialized but still environmentally friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.