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Dispatches’s list of lists: Everything expats need to know in one convenient post

There’s something in human nature that doesn’t simply seek information, but wants it delivered neatly ranked.

Michelin Guide knows that with its famous stars for the best restaurants. It’s why U.S. News and World Report issues its famous university rankings. And it’s why fans wait with bated breath for sports rankings, at least in the United States.

When Dispatches launched, we grabbed every new list that came down because they’re always popular with readers. Happiest country. Best colleges in Europe. Best kabob stand in Berlin. We blogged about them all.

Only six months later, there ‘s such a proliferation of lists we can’t even keep up with them – some useful, some affirming our faith in Europe, and others just depressing.

Here’s what’s we’ve curated in just the past few days…

• Most dangerous places to visit


Let’s just start right off with gloom and doom. HealthGrov took data from Canadian Travel Advice and Advisories and built a list of The Most Dangerous Places to Travel To. The CTA&A ranks countries by whether you should “exercise normal security precautions,” “exercise a high degree of caution,” “avoid nonessential travel” or “avoid all travel.”

What caught our attention is there are European countries on a list that includes such Heart of Darkness destinations as the Central African Republic, the No. 1 place you should not visit, and No. 2 Chad, both of which are in a perpetual state of societal disintegration. (Yet, both are somehow ranked far above Syria, which is down on the list at No. 9 despite a full-blown war!)

Also on the list from our neighborhood are:

No. 22 Turkey (political instability)

Travel Advisory: Avoid non-essential travel (with regional advisories)

Travel Mortality Score: 45.4

No. 65 Russia (ongoing war with Ukraine)

Travel Advisory: Exercise a high degree of caution (with regional advisories)
Travel Mortality Score: 161.9

No. 71 Belgium (terror threat)

Travel Advisory: Exercise a high degree of caution
Travel Mortality Score: 129.3

No. 82 Bosnia and Herzegovina (who knows)

Travel Advisory: Exercise a high degree of caution
Travel Mortality Score: 118.2

No. 83 France

(terror threat)

Travel Advisory: Exercise a high degree of caution
Travel Mortality Score: 116.2

Most Dangerous Places to Travel To is a pretty interesting – if somewhat baffling– list that includes the Bahamas because of the Zika virus. But wouldn’t that be true for the entire tropical and sub-tropical world? Whatever ….

• World university rankings


Ah, it’s that time of year again, when the education websites release their world university rankings. Which, as you might imagine, don’t change all that much year-to-year. Except when they do. American schools typically dominate the Top 20. This year, the big news about The Times World University Rankings is that Oxford is the first British school ranked as the best in the world.

But the real news is that suddenly, Asian schools are rising, with National University of Singapore (No. 24)  and Peking University (No. 29) breaking into the Top 30 of the Times list.

No. 1 Oxford University

No. 2 California Institute of Technology

No. 3 Stanford University

No. 4 University of Cambridge

No. 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

No. 6 Harvard University

No. 7  Princeton University

No. 8 Imperial College London

No. 9. ETH Zurich – Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

No. 10 University of California, Berkeley

• U.S. not the greatest country on earth

This won’t come as much of a surprise to either Americans or Europeans. The U.S. has the largest GDP, but that wealth fails to trickle down ….

Bloomberg just ran a detailed post about a huge United Nations study about sustainable development. (Yes, this is an article about an article about a study, but the information is nicely structured.) The Lancet did the heavy listing, crunching the UN data. Using the UN’s sustainable development goals measuring poverty, clean water and education, almost 2,000 researchers in 124 countries compiled data on 33 different indicators of progress toward the UN goals related to health, according to Bloomberg.

The U.S. places a surprising No. 28, dinged for child obesity, gun violence and alcohol/drug abuse. European countries ruled with 25 of the Top 30 slots.

Here are the Top 10 countries:

No. 1 Iceland

No. 2 Singapore

No. 3 Sweden

No. 4 Andorra

No. 5 United Kingdom

No. 6. Finland

No. 7 Spain

No. 8 Netherlands

No. 9 Canada

No. 10 Australia

• World’s least fragile cities


We move from the sustainable development list to a fragile-cities list. And again, it’s a Third World/First World divide. And again, Europe sweeps the list of strongest, most vibrant cities.

The Igarapé Institute in Brazil, United Nations University, the World Economic Forum, and 100 Resilient Cities collaborated to create a global index of urban fragility … the cities where crime, wars, pollution, terrible infrastructure and other issues “undermine metropolitan capacity and legitimacy.”

And of course the cities in the middle of wars rank lowest on a race to the bottom led by Mogadishu, Somalia and Kabul, Afghanistan.

Europe has the least fragile, or more vibrant, depending on lexicon. Canberra, Australia, and Oslo, Norway are the most vibrant.

You can see the data visualization infographics on either CityLab’s website, or on the Fragile Cities website.

• UK cities trail European counterparts


We’ve saved the best for last. Anticipating a post-Brexit Europe, Centre for Cities produced “Competing with the Continent,” an in-depth look at how U.K. cities compare economically to their European counterparts. The report compares data from the U.K.’s 62 cities against data from 268 cities across 16 European countries, so this is a huge data dump.

The London-based non-profit data center/research effort/think tank found that London is disproportionally the United Kingdom’s economic engine … with other British cities not measuring up to cities on the continent when it comes to skills, productivity and innovation.

From “Competing with the Continent”:

  • Nine out of ten UK cities (57 out of 63) perform below the European average in terms of productivity, and more than half (39) are among the 25 percent least productive cities in the continent.
  • More than three out of four UK cities (48) have a lower proportion of high-skilled residents than the European average. UK cities are also home to the third highest concentration of low-skilled residents in the continent, behind only Spanish and Polish cities.
  • Only two UK cities (Cambridge and Oxford) are in the European top 20 for innovation, and around four out of five (49) fall below the continental average. Despite its vibrant economy, London only generated 8 patents per resident in 2011, compared to 26 patents per resident in Paris and 10 in Berlin.
  • The UK economy relies on a handful of high-performing cities for growth. London, for example, is the biggest economy in Europe, and accounts for a quarter of the UK’s economic output – more than Paris’ contribution to the French economy (20 percent), and significantly bigger than Berlin’s role in the German economy (4 percent).

The data dive includes a very cool interactive tool that lets you quickly compare cities.

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