Become a French Resident for Only 10 Million Euros

Visa requirements to stay in a country for longer than one month can be very restrictive. If you want to work in another country things only become more complicated.

Many countries implement point based immigration systems, others also offer random lotteries for citizenship. As the old adage states; “money talks”. Indeed, when it comes to citizenship this holds true. In a previous post I took a look at the staggering amount some countries earn through tourism visas alone.

An increasing number of countries offer citizenship for investors with big pockets looking for a new home. Such schemes have come under much controversy with many people using their new found citizenships to avoid taxes in their former home countries.

In this post I take a look at the market for citizenships, and see if I too could afford to purchase a citizenship in any of these countries (let me dream!).

Methodology

There are a number of significant¬†differences¬†between¬†the terms ‚Äėresidency‚Äô and ‚Äėcitizenship‚Äô. A¬†citizen¬†of a country, nation or state has rights that are not conferred on a¬†resident. Citizens can confidently expect that they will hold that status, and those rights, for life. In addition,¬†citizenship¬†status can be inherited by children and grandchildren merely by proving, if they were born outside of that country, that they are close filial relatives of the¬†citizen.

Residents have no such clear-cut security.¬†Residency¬†status can also, depending on the laws of that country, be separated into temporary and permanent¬†residency.¬†Some countries, such as the¬†United Kingdom¬†(UK) do not even acknowledge the term ‚Äėresidency‚Äô but define it as ‚Äėindefinite leave to remain‚Äô.

The IMF has produced a list of 23 countries that offer residency and citizenship programs. Using this list I examined each offering and its restrictions, for example, the time required in country to remain a resident in the program. In each country, the requirements to enter a program wildly differ. In some countries a real-estate investment is allowed, in others an investment in a business is required. To simplify things the list simply considers the cheapest investment vehicle to enter each program.

To try and understand the value of each of the programs to potential investors I compared the cost required to invest against each countries GDP in 2017, also produced by the IMF.

Results

Cost of citizenship / residency

Cost-of-citizenship-by-country

Interactive chart.

Rank cost Country Cost USD Shengen Type
23 Latvia $43,178 Y Residency
22 Dominica $100,000 N Citizenship
19 Antigua and Barbuda $250,000 N Citizenship
3 Cyprus $3,084,150 Y Citizenship
2 Australia $3,941,105 N Residency
1 France $12,336,600 Y Residency

Full list.

At $43,178 and offering entry into the Shengen travel zone, the Latvian residency program is a very attractive opportunity for non-EU citizens. This residency program looks incredibly cheap when compared to the French program costing $12,336,600!

Eligibility for citizenship

In many cases those who purchase a residency or even citizenship must wait some time before enjoying full rights.

Years-in-country-before-eligible-for-citizenship1

Interactive chart.

Rank qual. period Country Shengen Type Cost USD Residency Requirements Citizenship qualifying period
18 Cyprus Y Citizenship $3,084,150 0 0
18 Dominica N Citizenship $100,000 0 0
18 Grenada N Citizenship $250,000 0 0
18 St. Kitts and Nevis N Citizenship $250,000 0 0
18 Antigua and Barbuda N Citizenship $250,000 5 days / 5 years 0
2 Latvia Y Residency $43,178 0 10
2 Spain Y Residency $616,830 0 10
1 Switzerland N Residency $267,012 0 12

Full table.

In 5 countries you can obtain citizenship immediately without restriction. Only one of these countries,¬†Antigua and Barbuda, has a requirement for citizens to remain in the country — although this is just 5 days over 5 years! Four of these five countries are in the Caribbean. Though for $3,084,150, Cypriot citizenship offers immediate access with no restriction to the EU Schengen travel zone.

Investment as a percentage of GDP

Citizenship-cost-as-a-percentage-of-GDP-2017

Interactive chart.

Cost GDP rank Country Cost USD GDP per capita USD Cost / GDP Shengen Type
23 Latvia $43,178.10 $15,402 280% Y Residency
22 Switzerland $267,012.50 $80,837 330% N Residency
21 Canada – Prince Edward Island $276,747.10 $44,773 618% N Residency
3 Bulgaria $616,830.00 $7,924 7784% N Residency
2 Cyprus $3,084,150.00 $24,740 12466% Y Citizenship
1 France $12,336,600.00 $39,673 31096% Y Residency

Full list.

In Latvia, citizens generate $15,402.00 each to the economy. A residency visa will cost you 280% more than this. If you think this is unreasonable, consider French residency where the cost is 31,096% higher than GDP per person.

Improvements

As noted, segmenting each program further by investment type would provide additional insight.

For comparison, other income metrics beyond GDP would be make for a interesting analysis. Each countries tax rates would be a good example.

tl;dr

Latvian residency can be purchased for just $43,178 and provides non-EU citizens with unrestricted access to the Schengen travel zone. Dominica offers the cheapest citizenship program, costing $100,000 to become a fully fledged citizen.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Mexicans on Minimum Wage Have to Work for 5 Weeks to Afford a Passport

Last year I needed to renew my passport. As a regular traveller I opted for the “jumbo” 48 page option with the aim of filling them all with a stamp in the 10 year period, a task that will likely be made easier when the UK leaves Europe. Sigh.

In a previous post we covered the cost of obtaining visas to enter countries, assuming your passport didn’t entitle you to visa-free entry. While some travel visa fees are eye-watering, the high cost of renewing my passport (¬£85.59 for the jumbo version) left me wondering how many people simply can not afford this luxury around the world, especially when factoring in the cost for a family.

While travel costs continues to decrease, it appears the cost of documents allowing you to do so is going the other way. In this post I examine the affordability of passports around the world.

Methodology

In 2010 the UK government published a comparison of costs for citizens to apply for passports in their native country.

Using this list of 52 countries I searched each governments website for the costs associated with renewing an adult passport. The definition of “adult” varies by country. In each case I selected the largest age group covering the population between 18-65. Given many countries offered different rates for passports, I collected prices for passports with the longest validity. When more than one variation was available, for example number of pages, I selected the cheapest option for comparison.

I used a list of minimum wage data by country published on Wikipedia to compare passport costs to income. 11 countries did not have a clear minimum wages and these countries were therefore omitted from the analysis.

Results

Passport costs (2018)

Passport-cost-by-country-20181

Interactive chart.

Rank USD Issuing Country Cost USD Adult: Validity of Standard Pasport (years)
41 Indonesia $11.43 10
40 India $23.24 10
39 Bulgaria $25.37 5
3 Japan $150.06 10
2 Turkey $177.47 10
1 Australia $223.43 10

Full list.

Indonesian citizens can buy a passport for just $11.43 USD. This might leave many Australian citizens wondering why they have to pay $223.43 USD. The mean average cost for a passport of the 41 countries considered is $72.48 USD.

Passport costs by year (2018)

The passports above have varying lengths of validity, from five to ten years. I analysed cost per year of each passport to get a better understanding of value.

Passport-yearly-cost-by-country-2018

Interactive chart.

Rank cost p/yr usd Issuing Country Cost /yr USD Adult: Validity of Standard Pasport (years)
41 Indonesia $1.14 10
40 India $2.32 10
39 China $2.84 10
3 Greece $20.94 5
2 France $21.34 5
1 Australia $22.34 10

Full list.

When examining passport costs by year the costs do not seem as prohibitive. Even at the most expensive end of the spectrum the Australian passport works out to cost $22.34 per year over 10 years. Perhaps passport authorities should consider charging yearly for passports.

Passport costs vs income (2018)

While cost of a passport is an important metric. It does not consider the wealth of the country and how much of a persons income is required to purchase a passport for travel. Using minimum wage data it is possible to get an idea on how the lowest paid workers must pay for the luxury to travel internationally.

Hours-worked-at-minimum-wage-required-to-buy-passport-by-country-2018

Interactive chart.

Rank affordability Issuing Country Cost USD Min wage USD Hours worked for passport Weeks (40hrs) for passport
41 Luxembourg $62.02 $13.05 4.75 0.12
40 Spain $32.25 $5.60 5.76 0.14
39 Germany $74.43 $9.99 7.45 0.19
3 Japan $150.06 $1.33 112.83 2.82
2 Russian Federation $62.05 $0.53 117.07 2.93
1 Mexico $96.93 $0.49 197.81 4.95

Full list.

A Luxembourgian on minimum wage will have to work just under 5 hours to buy a passport. Compare that to Mexico where a worker on minimum¬† would have to work almost 200 hours to buy a passport — that’s 5 working weeks!

Improvements

Minimum wage is concept that differs by country and is not necessarily the most accurate measure of affordability. It would be useful to compare other income metrics to passport cost, such as median or mean income.

tl;dr

The Australian passport is the most expensive to purchase, however, the Mexican passport is the most expensive when measured on minimum wage affordability.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Passport Power Rank 2018

Every year I write a yearly passport power post, and every year it appears the world has changed drastically since the last.

Next year will be no different. Expect this Brexit “remoaner” to be lamenting the massive reduction in the UK passport’s flexibility that currently allows holders access to 175 countries without requiring a visa.

Further from home there have been some other geopolitical issues that have directly affected citizen’s ability to travel. Last summer we saw tensions flare in the Middle East. Towards the end of 2017 Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un engaged in a nuclear war of words.

This post takes a look at how some of these events have affected citizens ability to travel compared to previous years.

Methodology

Each year Henley & Partners¬†publishes a ‚ÄúVisa Restriction Index‚ÄĚ,¬†a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy.

Points are awarded to countries for the number of destinations that offer visa-free travel to their citizens. e-Visas are treated the same as visas on arrival. Where the conditions for obtaining an e-visa are straightforward (fee, return ticket, hotel reservation), a visa-free point was assigned.

The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and is enhanced by extensive in-house research.

There are 219 destination countries (territories) in total. The maximum attainable score is 218 (points are not assigned for a national traveling to their own country).

Analysis

Best and worst passports for travel (2018)

Passport-Power-Rank-20181

Interactive map.

rank 2018 country UN-region visa-free-2018
1 Germany Europe 177
2 Sweden Europe 176
2 Italy Europe 176
¬†… ¬†… ¬†… ¬†…
197 Syrian Arab Republic Africa 28
198 Iraq Middle East 27
199 Afghanistan Asia and the Pacific 24

Full list.

For the fifth year in a row, Germany tops the list. German citizens can travel to 177 destinations worldwide without requiring a visa (+1 vs. 2017). The top 3 countries remain unchanged in order from 2017.

At the other end of the ranking Iraq and Afghanistan remain in position 198 and 199, respectively, unchanged from last year with the same number of visa free restrictions (+0 vs. 2017). Pakistan climes one place from 2017 to rank 196th (+1 vs. 2017). with Syria entering the bottom 3 in 197th place having lost one visa free destination (-1 vs. 2017).

Year-on-year changes (2017 vs. 2018)

Total-of-Visa-Free-Relationships-by-Year-2013-2018

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The world is becoming more accessible to citizens. Between 2017 and 2018 there was an additional 470 visa-free relationships — the biggest increase since 2013 to 2014.

Changes in travel restrictions (2017 vs. 2018)

Change-in-visa-free-destinations-2017-2018

Interactive chart.

Ukraine has seen much political turmoil in recent years which may attribute to its low rankings in previous years (98th with 82 visa-free destinations in 2017). The country jumps to 79th in 2018 with 114 visa-free destinations (+32 vs. 2017). Citizens of Georgia now enjoy 30 fewer visa requirements to enter other countries in 2018 compared with 2017.

Between 2017 and 2018 only 8 countries saw visa restrictions increase; Syria, North Korea, Lao, Algeria, New Zealand, Mongolia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Qatar (+1 vs. 2017).

Changes in travel restrictions (2013 vs. 2018)

Change-in-visa-free-destinations-2013-2018

Interactive chart.

When looking back to 2013, citizens of the UAE are the biggest winners for reduced travel restrictions (+62 vs. 2013). 22 countries have seen visa-free travel increase to at least 30 destinations.

In contrast, citizens of 15 countries have seen visa-free travel reduced. Syrian’s have faired worse (-11 vs. 2013). War torn countries like Yemen (-8 vs. 2013), Iraq (-4 vs. 2013), and Iraq¬†(-4 vs. 2013) have also suffered with increased travel restrictions for citizens.

Improvements

Visa restrictions can change for a wide variety of reasons: security, political, social, etc. For additional studies it would be to add such context for each country to try and better understand why visa requirements seem to change so frequently.

tl;dr

The German passport remains the most flexible passport for travel with the fewest visa restrictions imposed upon holders.

Get the data

Data sources + data used in this post.

Internet at 35,000 Feet. How Hard Can it Be?

Ten hours, possibly longer, stuck in a small metal tube with hundreds of other people each wrestling for the tiniest amount of extra space. Flying can be a chore.

Electronics powering music, movies and games, are staples of modern flyers that help to pass the time. Airlines invest millions in onboard entertainment systems to improve passenger experience.

A quick Google search will show you that many passengers, including myself, are now regularly asking if internet services are found onboard flights. The same search will also show you how poor these services can be, assuming they exists at all.

Boeing’s¬†early in-flight Internet¬†service, Connexion,¬†launched¬†in 2001 (since discontinued). 17 year later, how has the market for in-flight internet developed?

Methodology

Each year Skytrax put together a list of the top 100 airlines around the world using a range of variables. The most recent is the 2017 version. Due to the merger of Alaska Airlines (36) and Virgin America (43) I have reduced the list to 99, removing Virgin America.

For each of the 99 airlines I then visited their websites to identify if:

  1. they offer onboard internet
  2. the cost of internet services, if applicable

Not all airlines clearly document wether internet services exist. Many use the umbrella term “WiFi onboard”, however, in many cases this does not include internet access, instead just access to a network with inflight content (similar to that offered on traditional inflight entertainment systems). Those who did not explicitly document internet access were recorded as not to offer it.

Similarly, many airlines are slowly rolling out wifi. In some cases only a few routes served by an airline have in-flight internet, for others the coverage is more widespread. Due to lack of information about internet access by route the actual prevalence of internet onboard is not accounted for.

The cost of in-flight internet, which almost all airlines charge for, is rather complex. There is no unified standard for providing services, some airlines charge based on data usage, others by time, and in some case some by the originating country of the flight. Due to lack of standardisation, I only documented the airlines that offered free access or paid access to in-flight internet.

Finally, I assigned each airline a classification based on the routes they serve, either regional (only short/medium-haul routes) and international (at least one long-haul route), the assumption being that fewer regional flights will offer in-flight internet because of the shorter flight times.

Results

In-flight internet coverage (all airlines)

Skytrax 100 Airlines with Internet Available Onboard (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

67 of airlines in the top 99 offer internet on at least one of their routes. The top 20 Skytrax rated airlines all have in-flight internet services available. There is a strong correlation between in-flight internet and an airlines Skytrax rating — those towards the bottom of the rankings tend not to offer internet services to customers.

In-flight internet coverage (international airlines)

Skytrax 100 International Airlines with Internet Available Onboard (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

Of the 73 international airlines covered, 53 offered onboard internet.

In-flight internet coverage (regional airlines)

Skytrax 100 Regional Airlines with Internet Available Onboard (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

Unsurprisingly, a smaller share of regional airlines offer onboard internet — 14 of the 26 regional airlines offer the service.

Free in-flight internet for business of first class travellers (all airlines)

Skytrax 100 Airlines with Free Internet Available Onboard for Business or First (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

The cost to retrofit planes with internet capabilities represents a significant investment for an airline. Many in-flight internet providers have business models to make a much money as possible to a very small number of people charging eye-watering prices to access internet services. 11 of the 99 airlines offer free in-flight internet as standard to business or first class customers.

Skytrax 2017 rank Airline Type Free internet in first or business
4 Emirates International Yes
10 Garuda Indonesia International Yes
12 Turkish Airlines International Yes
28 Norwegian International Yes
38 Aer Lingus International Yes
39 jetBlue Airways Regional Yes
67 Philippine Airlines International Yes
72 China Eastern International Yes
82 Icelandair International Yes
84 Gulf Air International Yes
98 Air China International Yes

Full table.

Free in-flight internet for economy travellers (all airlines)

Skytrax 100 Airlines with Free Internet Available Onboard for Economy (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

Only 6 of the 99 airlines offer some level of free in-flight internet to economy flyers. However, most of these services are limited by time or data volume making anything other than checking emails impossible.

Skytrax 2017 rank Airline Type Free for all
4 Emirates International Yes (limited)
10 Garuda Indonesia International Yes (limited)
28 Norwegian International Yes (unlimited)
67 Philippine Airlines International Yes (limited)
98 Air China International Yes (limited)
39 jetBlue Airways Regional Yes (limited)

Full table.

Norwegian deserve a special mention not just because they offer an unlimited in-flight internet service, where available, but also because of the high number of their routes where this service is available.

tl;dr

67 of the top 99 Skytrax airlines offer in-flight internet. International carriers most likely to offer the service (72%) when compared to their regional counterparts (54%).

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Getting the Best Piste for Your Money

We’re halfway through the 2017-18 ski season in the Northern Hemisphere and the mountains are calling (in part to help shed some of the extra Christmas kilograms I might have gained).

One thing that’s clear for those looking at taking some time off on the slopes;¬†skiing is a costly sport. However, with lift tickets nearing the ‚ā¨200 mark for a day on the slopes, some resorts (predominately those in the United States) are taking that expense to an entirely new level.

How do you measure value for money at a ski resort?

Snow quality is definitely important. So is nightlife (for us Brits, anyway). Though I decided to take a fully quantitate approach measuring three different metrics; value of lift pass based on skiable area, value of lift pass based on vertical elevation, and finally the piste to lift ratio.

Methodology

Skiresort.info has compiled a regularly updated list of almost 5500 ski resorts around the world. They details key information about each resort, from piste lengths by difficulty to the price of a lift pass.

Using this dataset I extracted data from the top 50 largest resorts by piste length (between 600 and 136 kilometres) for the analysis below.

Results

Lift pass prices

Rank lift pass cost Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR)
1 Beaver Creek North America ‚ā¨157.00
2 Snowmass North America ‚ā¨141.00
2 Vail North America ‚ā¨141.00
4 Steamboat North America ‚ā¨137.00
5 Breckenridge North America ‚ā¨136.00
6 Park City North America ‚ā¨121.00
7 Winter Park Resort North America ‚ā¨116.00
8 Big Sky Resort North America ‚ā¨112.00
9 Whistler Blackcomb North America ‚ā¨92.00
10 Zermatt/Breuil-Cervinia/Valtournenche – Matterhorn Europe ‚ā¨78.00

Full table.

The¬†Beaver Creek lift pass is the most expensive by price in our list at ‚ā¨157. The cheapest day lift pass can be found in¬†Espace Lumi√®re ‚Äď Pra Loup/Val d‚ÄôAllos, France for only¬†‚ā¨39 with 180km of skiable pistes.

9 of the top 10 resorts by lift pass are located in the United States. At the other end of the scale, 8 of the top 10 cheapest resorts for daily lift passes can be found in France.

Lift pass value per piste kilometre

Les 3 Vall√©es has the largest skiable area in my top 50, 600km for a daily lift price of¬†‚ā¨52 though you’d be hard pressed to cover a tenth of that in a day.

Cost per skiable km by resort (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

A lift pass, on average, costs ‚ā¨0.37 per skiable kilometre for the 50 resorts covered (‚ā¨0.65 in US,¬†‚ā¨0.25 in Europe)

Cost per km rank Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR) Total piste Length (km) Cost per km
1 Les Portes du Soleil – Morzine/Avoriaz/Les Gets/Ch√Ętel/Morgins/Champ√©ry Europe ‚ā¨52.00 580 ‚ā¨0.09
2 Les 3 Vall√©es – Val Thorens/Les Menuires/M√©ribel/Courchevel Europe ‚ā¨61.00 600 ‚ā¨0.10
3 Via Lattea – Sestriere/Sauze d’Oulx/San Sicario/Claviere/Montgen√®vre Europe ‚ā¨48.00 400 ‚ā¨0.12
48 Steamboat North America ‚ā¨137.00 165 ‚ā¨0.83
49 Breckenridge North America ‚ā¨136.00 153 ‚ā¨0.89
50 Beaver Creek North America ‚ā¨157.00 150 ‚ā¨1.05

View full table.

The best value lift pass by available skiable area is¬†Les Portes du Soleil, France where a day pass costs¬†‚ā¨52 and covers 580km (‚ā¨0.09 per kilometre). In contrast, in Beaver Creek, North America a day pass will cost¬†‚ā¨157.00 covering only 150km of pistes (‚ā¨1.05 per kilometre). Of course I’m sure there will be many off-piste hikers willing to put in some legwork to make up for this.

Lift pass value per vertical metre

The resorts in the Europe, on average, have more vertical descent than those in the US; 1553 metres versus 1144 metres (though the US resorts are located at a higher altitude; 3186 metres versus 2751 metres).Lift cost per vertical meter (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

To go from top to bottom of all 50 resorts on the list you’ll pay and average cost ‚ā¨0.05 per metre (lift pass / elevation change).

Rank elevation change cost per m Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR) Elevation change (m) Lift cost per vertical m
1 Vail North America ‚ā¨141.00 976 ‚ā¨0.14
1 Breckenridge North America ‚ā¨136.00 988 ‚ā¨0.14
50 Alpe d’Huez Europe ‚ā¨52.50 2205 ‚ā¨0.02
50 Les 2 Alpes Europe ‚ā¨50.00 2243 ‚ā¨0.02

Full table.

Using this metric, the cheapest resorts per vertical metre are¬†Les 2 Alpes and¬†Alpe d’Huez in France at¬†‚ā¨0.02 per metre.

The most expensive? All in North America.¬†Breckenridge and¬†Vail in the US have the highest cost per metre at¬†‚ā¨0.14

Ski area covered by each lift

Waiting for a lift is a real pain. In some resorts I’ve heard people standing in line for over an hour (I’m looking at you Chamonix). This led me to wonder; which resorts the best lift to piste ratio?

In Les Portes du Soleil, France, there are a whopping 170 lifts to cover the skiable area of 580km (each lift covers 3.41km). Lake Louise has just 7 lifts covering 139km of pistes (each lift covers 19.86km).

Ski area km per lift by resort (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

On average, one lift exists for every 5.8 km in the 50 resorts covered, though there are outliers.

Rank ski area km per lift Resort Region Total piste Length (km) Ski lifts Ski area km per lift
1 Gröden (Val Gardena) Europe 175 79 2.22
2 Espace Diamant – Les Saisies/Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe/Praz sur Arly/Flumet/Crest-Voland Europe 192 79 2.43
3 La Plagne (Paradiski) Europe 225 91 2.47
48 Snowmass North America 237 17 13.94
49 Fernie North America 142 9 15.78
50 Lake Louise North America 139 7 19.86

View full table.

Gröden (Val Gardena), Italy, has almost 1 lift for every 2km of pistes. Lake Louise, ranked in last place for lift coverage, has just 1 lift for every 20km of pistes. Like value, North American resorts are, mostly, the worst for lift coverage.

tl;dr

Based on marked pistes, European resorts offer significantly better value for money (‚ā¨0.25 p/km) than their counterparts in the United States (‚ā¨0.65 p/km).

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Good News! The World Is Becoming More Peaceful

Last year we covered the most dangerous cities by homicide rates — the stats were particularly scary.

Since writing that post I’ve stumbled across the Global Peace Index created by the aptly named, Institute for Economics and Peace.

Homicide rate obviously has a clear relationship to peace, and is one of the 22 factors considered for each country listed in the Global Peace Index.

While we probably all have a favourite peaceful destination to escape the stress of everyday life; where do these countries fall on the Global Peace Index?

Methodology

The Global Peace Index (GPI) gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation. Factors are both internal such as levels of violence and crime within the country and external such as military expenditure and wars. The GPI uses 22 different factors to rank individual countries based on these themes.

Countries covered by the GPI must either have a population of more than 1 million or a land area greater than 20,000 square kilometers.

The first GPI was released in 2008 (129 countries considered) with the latest data compiled covering 2017 (163 countries considered).

Results

The world was more peaceful in 2017 than 2016

pc-Change-in-Global-Peace-Index-Value-2016-2017

Download chart.

Perhaps surprisingly we live in a more peaceful world than 2016. The overall GPI scores fell by 0.22% between 2016 and 2017. 90 countries are now more peaceful, compared to 72 that are less, and one, Czech Republic, that had no change in GPI score. On average, the world has become 6% less peaceful since 2008.

But the world is less peaceful than in 2008

Change-in-Global-Peace-Index-Value-2008-2017

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98 countries became less peaceful between 2008 and 2017 while 31 became more peaceful (hurrah!). The countries with the biggest changes in GPI were Chad which has become 19% more peaceful, on-the-other-hand, Syria has become 47% more dangerous.

And the most peaceful countries in 2017 were…

Most-Peaceful-Countries-20171

Download chart.

Iceland, is by far the most peaceful country in the world according to the GPI. This year it had the lowest index score of 1.111. All of the top 10 countries have GPI values between 1.1 and 1.5 (the lower the score, the higher the level of peace). Compare that to the 10 least peaceful countries where scores range from 3.0 to 4.0.

The most peaceful countries GPI scores have remained stable

Most-Peaceful-Countries-2017-GPI-score-time1

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Generally scores of the 2017 top ten most peaceful countries have remained fairly static fluctuating plus and minus 0.1 points over the time period (indicating stability within these countries).

Some countries have shot up the GPI rankings

Most-Peaceful-Countries-2017-GPI-rank-time1

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Examining countries by GPI ranking tells a different story. Whilst Iceland and New Zealand have been incredibly consistent in places one and two respectively, other countries have not been so predictable.

Take Portugal. In recent years the countries GPI has gone from 1.385 in 2008 to 1.258 in 2017 —¬† a 10.1% increase in peacefulness. This has catapulted the country up the GPI rankings from 14/137 position in 2008 to 3/162 in the latest 2017 rankings. Much of this can be attributed to financial reforms put in place by the country, and significant strides in lowering violence and terror with greater political stability and economic promise.

Notably, Switzerland has typically ranked in the top 10 since 2008. However, in 2009, 2010 and 2011 the country ranked 11/143, 18/158 and 16/153 by GPI rank respectively. Much of this can be attributed to the factors that go into the GPI rankings that relate to military and arms trading. Countries are negatively scored on these factors. Given Switzerland has compulsory military service and exports more weapons, relative to its size, than many other countries the GPI scores become slightly when compared to the countries otherwise socially peaceful nature.

And the least peaceful countries in 2017 were…

Least-Peaceful-Countries-2017

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Sadly, it is clear to see just how bad the situation is in war torn Syria. Put alongside Iraq (3.556 GPI score) and Afghanistan (3.567), with a GPI score of 3.814 it is clear the country could in no way be considered peaceful.

Ukraine, the only European country ranked 154/163 in the 2017 GPI is closely followed by Russia placed 151/163. There have been small scale conflicts on the borders between the two countries likely contributing heavily to their high GPI scores.

You might be shocked, or not, to learn that the United States ranks 114/163 in 2017 on the GPI. Much of this can again be answered by the factors that go into making up the index such as military spending of which the United States spends more than any other country.

Scores show these countries are getting less peaceful

Least-Peaceful-Countries-2017-score-time1

Download chart.

The 2017 list of least peaceful cities have seen their GPI scores worsen significantly since 2008. Half of the top 5 have become less peaceful by over one index point — representing an increase of more than 50% in each case.

Least-Peaceful-Countries-2017-GPI-rank-time1

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Most of the rankings show a slight uptick year-on-year, however this can be attributed to more countries being considered by the GPI (137 in 2008, 163 in 200(). You can see two very clear things on this graph; Syria and Ukraine’s falls down the rankings.

In 2011, what became known as the¬†Arab Spring revolts toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President¬†Hosni Mubarak. In the months following many of Syria’s population tried to similarly overthrow the countries president,¬†Bashar al-Assad , resulting in a civil war that is still being waged, began in Syria with rebels. This has resulted in untold tragedy and is the reason Syria slipped from a peaceful(ish) 65/163 in 2007 to the least peaceful country on earth in 2017.

Similarly, in 2014 the Ukrainian revolution began when a series of riots erupted in the countries capital, Kiev. Since then much of the countries eastern border with Russia has been annexed with tensions running high with neighbouring Russia. In turn, the revolution and the ensuing instability has led to Ukraine being ranked 80/137 in 2008 to 154/163 in 2017 on the GPI.

Improvements

The GPI ranking has been criticised by some. Like any index, the GPI should be considered on the factors that go into creating it. For instance, take Switzerland discussed in this post, which has its ranking heavily skewed by military spending and arms trades despite being a very peaceful nation when accounting for all other factors. As such it would be good to compare the raw data points for each of the contributing factors (e.g. total military spending, homicide rate, etc) in any future analysis.

tl;dr

Iceland is currently the most peaceful city in the world according to the Global Peace Index compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

$3000 Per Night For A Hotel Room!?!?

With the year coming to an end you might be thinking about booking getaways for 2018. Perhaps you’re jetting off after Christmas to escape the cold or for some relaxation after the holiday period.

In many cases, price is key consideration when choosing a hotel. For me, the price and location are the biggest factors to consider when travelling on business — I’m not too bothered about luxury. However, on vacation I’m willing to pay slightly more for a outdoor pool that I can laze around.

In major cities, hotels can be eye-wateringly expensive, even in the off-seasons. Which left me wondering; where are the most expensive city hotels?

Methodology

Mastercard ranked 132 cities around the world according to the number of international overnight visitors they welcomed in 2016 in their Global Destinations Cities Index 2016. Overnight visitors are defined as those arriving from outside of the country and who stay at least one night in the destination city. The top 10 cities ranked by number of overnight visitors is as follows:

Rank overnight visitors City Overnight visitors 2016
1 Bangkok, Thailand 21,470,000
2 London, UK 19,880,000
3 Paris, France 18,030,000
4 Dubai, UAE 15,270,000
5 New York City, USA 12,750,000
6 Singapore, Singapore 12,110,000
7 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 12,020,000
8 Istanbul, Turkey 11,950,000
9 Tokyo, Japan 11,700,000
10 Seoul, South Korea 10,200,000

Download table.

Using this list of 10 cities, I turned to hotels.com to search for the 10 most expensive hotels in each of these cities for the dates: Saturday 13th January – Saturday 20th January 2018. I selected these dates as they are generally considered to be off-season, therefore demand should be relatively low for most of the 10 destinations (thus, lower prices). Prices are reported per night based on one standard room for two people.

Results

Most expensive hotels

Most-expensive-hotels-in-top-10-touristed-cities

Download chart.

The top 7 most expensive hotels in these 10 cities all cost more than $1000 per night during the off-season. My assumption is most of these hotels would cost well above $1000 in the peak-seasons. As an example, take during the Spring school holiday period in the UK. The most expensive hotel in January, the¬†Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residences costing $2,777 per night, would cost at the time of writing $3,934 per night for a stay between¬†Saturday 17th February – Saturday 24 February 2018 — over $1000 more!

Most expensive hotels by city

Max-price-per-night-hotel-in-top-10-touristed-cities

Download chart.

The¬†Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residences at $2,777 per night places Dubai as the number one city by most expensive hotel. Paris’s Nolinski hotel at $1,630 per night and Tokyo’s TRUNK hotel at $1,493 per night place these cities second and third on the list of most expensive hotels by city respectively.

In contrast, in Kuala Lumpur, the most expensive hotel in the city, the Grand Service Suite at Times Square, costs $406 per night, significantly less than the top 3 cities previously covered.

Average cost of top 10 hotels by city

Ave-price-per-night-hotel-in-top-10-touristed-cities

Download chart.

There is a wide spread in cost to staying in the best hotels a city has to offer. In Dubai, the average cost to stay at one of the top 10 most expensive will cost you $917.40 per night.

If you’re considering Asia as your next luxury destinations the prices are much more favourable for high-end hotels. The average hotel in Seoul, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur costs less than an average of $325 per night — about the average price for a mid-range hotel in many of the other cities considered, Paris or London for example.

Improvements

As discussed, the time of year greatly affects demand and therefore prices charged for rooms by hotels. Having access to a dataset showing historic price changes over time for each hotel would make for a very interesting analysis. As would adding more hotels, not just the top 10 most expensive in each city.

tl;dr

Dubai has some of the most expensive high-end hotels. Of the top 10 visited cities, Dubai’s¬†Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residences costing $2,777 per night in the off-season is the most expensive hotel I could find.

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

The Only Thing Tougher Than Climbing Everest is Raising The Funds

Over the summer I climbed a few mountains; Mount Snowden in Wales, UK (1,085m) and Mount Diablo in California, USA (1,173 m). These are the 1273rd and 1268th highest peaks in the world respectively.

While I’m happy with these expeditions they do not compare with even the top 100 peaks, all of which reach 7,000m above sea-level.

On my summits the biggest cost was the car park (¬£10 per day at Snowden, if I recall correctly). However, these sums are insignificant to climbing some of the world’s highest mountains where costs can easily run into tens-of-thousands-of-dollars.

Which left me wondering; how much does it cost to summit the highest mountains?

Methodology

To get a wide spread of mountains, to account for geographic cost differences, I decided to compare costs of climbing the Seven Summits. For those unfamiliar, the Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Summiting all of them is regarded as a mountaineering challenge. The seven mountains that make up the series are:

Overall rank Mountain Meters Feet Continent
1 Mount Everest 8,848 29,029 Asia
235 Mount Kilimanjaro 5,895 19,341 Africa
134 Aconcagua 6,962 22,841 South America
247 Mount Elbrus 5,642 18,510 Europe
213 Denali 6,168 20,236 North America
303 Puncak Jaya 4,884 16,024 Oceania
301 Vinson Massif 4,892 16,050 Antartica

You’ll see the only mountain in the top 100 highest peaks worldwide in this list is Everest. Over half of the top 100 peaks are found in the Himalayas, the mountain range where Everest is located.

Climbing costs can vary significantly person-to-person. One of the largest costs climbers incur are climbing guide fees. Generally, the more experienced guides are, the more climbers will pay for their services. I used the cheapest guide prices taken from two American guide services advertising climbs for the Seven Summits in 2017.

Climb times offered by guides also vary too. For time, I used an average figure calculated using the high and low climb estimates provided by the two guide services.

Results

Guide fees to climb the Seven Summits

Guide-fees-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20171

Download chart.

Guide fees rank Mountain Guide fees (USD) Meters
7 Aconcagua $4,700.00 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $5,000.00 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $5,000.00 5,642
4 Denali $8,500.00 6,168
3 Puncak Jaya $27,000.00 4,884
2 Vinson Massif $42,000.00 4,892
1 Mount Everest $65,000.00 8,848

Download table.

Some of these climbs are seen by elite climbers as hikes. For example, trips to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa, are advertised to the masses as a safe and relatively easy climb. The low climbing fees, starting from $5000, make it even more attractive for those entering the world of mountaineering. Compare that to Everest, where prices start from $65,000, or the price of premium car!

To climb all Seven Summits at the prices listed above would cost you $157,200 in guide fees alone.

Cost per day to climb the Seven Summits

Cost-per-day-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20172Download chart.

Cost per day rank Mountain Cost per day USD Days ave Meters
7 Aconcagua $213.64 22 6,962
6 Mount Elbrus $357.14 14 5,642
5 Denali $386.36 22 6168
4 Mount Kilimanjaro $434.78 11.5 5,895
3 Mount Everest $896.55 72.5 8,848
2 Puncak Jaya $1,687.50 16 4,884
1 Vinson Massif $2,153.85 19.5 4,892

Download table.

While an Everest ascent and descent of 8,848 meters takes on average 72.5 days to complete, the cost to climb is significantly cheaper at $896.55 per day than both Puncak Jaya and Vinson Massif costing $1,687.50 per day and $2,153.85 per day respectively.

In contrast, Aconcagua is the cheapest to climb at $213.64 per day, over 90% cheaper than the most expensive Vinson Massif.

Cost per meter to climb the Seven Summits

Cost-per-meter-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20171

Download chart.

Rank cost per meter Mountain Cost per meter USD Meters
7 Aconcagua $0.68 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $0.85 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $0.89 5,642
4 Denali $1.38 6168
3 Puncak Jaya $5.53 4884
2 Mount Everest $7.35 8848
1 Vinson Massif $8.59 4892

Download table.

Again, and surprising to me, Everest is not the most expensive mountain to summit. When looking at cost per meter Everest will set you back $7.35 per vertical meter, however, Vinson Massif, almost half the height of Everest will cost $8.59 per vertical meter! Whilst Everest is remote, Vinson Massif in Antartica is significantly harder to get to and has a less developed climbing industry resulting in the higher costs.

Similarly, Puncak Jaya, the smallest summit by height of all seven (4,884m) is the third most expensive costing $5.53 per vertical meter.

Improvements

This post only considered costs listed by two climbing guide companies. There are large variations in actual costs charged by guide companies. Take Mount Everest for example, where some report guide costs between $30,000 – $85,000. It would be interesting to compare summit success per company by costs charged to help understand if more money buys success (or better guides).

tl;dr

As expected, guide fees to climb Everest are most expensive of all seven summits costing around $65,000 with expeditions taking on average 72.5 days. However, Vinson Massif, the second smallest mountain in the Seven Summit series at 4,892m has the second highest guide fees, $42,000, which means it is the most expensive when analysing the expeditions based on cost per day ($2,153.85) and cost per meter ($8.59).

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

London Has Enough Attractions to Keep You Busy For 16 Years

Have you ever visited a city and thought; 3/5/7 days is not enough?

Leaflets line the lobbies of hotels the world over advertising the wide range of activities you can sign up for, from elephant trekking in South East Asia to bungee jumps in New Zealand.

Often many of us will pick new destinations for holidays based on the activities on offer.

Which cities will keep you most busy based on your interests?

Methodology

I used Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking (tourist arrivals) to identify the top 100 cities for tourism in 2015.

Using this list of 100, I then turned to Tripadvisor to identify number of activity options in each city. Tripadvisor splits activities into the following 20 categories:

  • Sights and landmarks
  • Transportation
  • Nature and parks
  • Shopping
  • Water and amusement parks
  • Tours
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Outdoor activities
  • Museums
  • Food and drink
  • Fun and games
  • Nightlife
  • Boat tours and water sports
  • Casinos and gambling
  • Concerts and shows
  • Spas and wellness
  • Classes and workshops
  • Traveller resources
  • Events
  • Day trips

Results

Top cities (all activities)

Activities-Count-Map

Interactive map.

Rank total activities City & Country Activities Total
1 London, UK 5809
2 Tokyo, Japan 5021
3 Moscow, Russia 4375
4 New York City, US 4342
5 Rome, Italy 4159
6 Paris, France 3732
7 Prague, Czech Republic 3239
8 Barcelona, Spain 3203
9 St Petersburg, Russia 3158
10 Istanbul, Turkey 2990

Full list.

London has the most activities for visitors 5809, nightlife activities account for 1280 of the total. That is enough to keep you busy for almost 16 years (5809 / 365).

Europe is one of the best regions to visit for spread of activities, 8 of the top 10 cities in the top 10 are all European.

Top cities (nightlife)

Nightlife-Count-Map

Interactive map.

Rank nightlife activities City & Country Nightlife total
1 London, UK 1280
2 Madrid, Spain 913
3 New York City, US 857
4 Barcelona, Spain 776
5 Prague, Czech Republic 648
6 Berlin, Germany 600
7 Rome, Italy 565
8 Istanbul, Turkey 440
9 Paris, France 429
10 Milan, Italy 376

Full list.

9 of the top 10 cities for nightlife attractions are all European with London leading the way with 1280 options — over 300 more than 2nd placed Madrid.

Top cities (shopping)

Shopping-Count-Map

Interactive map.

Rank shopping activities City & Country Shopping
1 New York City, US 796
2 London, UK 718
3 Paris, France 646
4 Tokyo, Japan 645
5 Istanbul, Turkey 530
6 Shanghai, China 506
7 Bangkok, Thailand 457
8 Rome, Italy 427
9 Prague, Czech Republic 386
10 Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 386

Full list.

Unsurprisingly the “fashion capitals”, New York (769), London (718), Paris (646) have the most shopping options available to visitors.

Top cities (museums)

museums-activities-count

Interactive map.

Rank museums attractions City & Country Museums
1 Moscow, Russia 594
2 St Petersburg, Russia 430
3 Tokyo, Japan 390
4 Seoul, South Korea 330
5 Prague, Czech Republic 317
6 London, UK 314
7 Beijing, China 284
8 Istanbul, Turkey 283
9 New York City, US 266
10 Shanghai, China 261

Full list.

Russia, a country with a very rich history has a large number of museums compared to other major cities. Moscow (594) and St Petersburg (430) are placed 1st and 2nd for count of museums.

2¬†cities in Euromonitor’s Top 100 list have no museums: Halong (Vietnam) and Palau Pinang (Malaysia).

Top cities (food & drink)

food-activities-count

Interactive map.

Food & drink rank City & Country Food & Drink
1 Rome, Italy 211
2 Hanoi, Vietnam 188
3 London, UK 170
4 Barcelona, Spain 166
5 Paris, France 159
6 Florence, Italy 134
7 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 112
8 Tokyo, Japan 106
9 Prague, Czech Republic 106
10 Madrid, Spain 102

Full list.

Rome tops the list for Food & Drink options. Parisians will be very disappointed to see themselves in 4th place, behind London in 3rd.

Top cities (nature & parks)

parks-activities-count

Interactive map.

Nature & park ranks City & Country Nature & Parks
1 Tokyo, Japan 378
2 Beijing, China 273
3 Moscow, Russia 187
4 London, UK 179
5 Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 141
6 St Petersburg, Russia 133
7 Taipei, Taiwan 126
8 Shanghai, China 125
9 New York City, US 109
10 Sydney, Australia 106

Full list.

The greenest city in the world is highly debatable (how do you measure “green”?). Tripadvisor’s count does not account for area of green space, rather the number of distinct green spaces and parks. Tokyo, a city with a very dense population, does not have many very large parks but seemingly lots of very small green spaces.

Top cities (landmarks)

sights-activities-count

Interactive map.

Rank sights activities City & Country Sights & Landmarks
1 Tokyo, Japan 1851
2 Moscow, Russia 1300
3 St Petersburg, Russia 1030
4 Rome, Italy 894
5 Kyoto, Japan 799
6 Beijing, China 757
7 London, UK 693
8 Osaka, Japan 614
9 Paris, France 505
10 Milan, Italy 451

Full list.

I was not going to include this category as Sights and Landmarks is a very broad categorisation. However I decided to include with an explanation. Older cities will likely have lots of historic landmarks, but this category has no distinction. Likewise, a “sight” can be very subjective. As such, I am not sure there is too much we can draw from this category.

Improvements

Tripadvisor’s count of activities offers a general overview of the most popular activities within a city. If you’re like me, you’ll browse¬†Tripadvisor’s “Top 10” activities before visiting a new city. However, the activities listed by Tripadvisor is not exhaustive. Many activities, especially those of a very specialist nature, are likely to be excluded. If I could identify a better way to classify and count activities in each city the accuracy of the results could be improved.

tl;dr

London has the most activities for visitors 5809, nightlife activities account for 1280 of the total.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Tuvalu Welcomes Just 1000 Tourists Per Year. France, 83 Million

Modern day travel has become incredibly easy. Even comparing it to 15 years ago; more routes are available than ever before, travel times have reduced, and costs have typically dropped significantly.

The turn-of-phrase¬†‘small world‘ is now a common one¬†(although its use may be in decline). In 2014, there were 1.133 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide, with a growth of 4.3% as compared to 1.087 billion in 2013.

Yet parts of the world are still inaccessible through your budget carrier — and some still unexplored. But where are they?

Methodology

Every year the UN World Tourism Organisation publishes a report titled “Tourism Highlights“. For this post I used the 2015 version (data reported is for 2013). The report contains tourism statistics for 217 countries, including inbound tourist arrivals and receipts. Using this data I was able to identify the countries that report the fewest tourists.

Analysis

UNWTO inbound tourists 2013

countries inbound tourists chart

Full map.

Did you know? The 3 countries that received the most tourists in 2013 were: 1. France (83.6 mil arrivals), 2. United States (69.9), and 3. Spain (60.6).

Full ranking.

UNWTO least touristed regions

Ave Tourists p/Destination by region

Download chart.

If you want to steer clear of tourist traps and other travellers¬†your best bet would be a holiday somewhere in Africa… or Bangladesh.

UNWTO least touristed countries

Inbound Tourists 2013 Country (<100k Inbound Tourists)

Download chart.

-Rank (tourists) Destination Inbound Tourists 2013
19 Rep. Moldova 96000
18 Dominica 86000
17 Sierra Leone 81000
16 Timor-Leste 79000
15 St. Vincent & Gren. 72000
14 San Marino 71000
13 Anguilla 69000
12 Djibouti 63000
11 Liechtenstein 60000
10 Guinea 56000
9 Tonga 51000
8 Micronesia FSM 42000
7 Solomon Is 24000
6 American Samoa 20000
5 Montserrat 7000
4 Niue 7000
3 Kiribati 6000
2 Marshall Is 5000
1 Tuvalu 1000

Full list.

These 19 countries were all reported to receive less than 100k inbound tourists in 2013.

There were 91 countries in 2013 that received less than 1 million inbound tourists.

Did you know? The 3 countries that received the fewest tourists in 2013 were: 191. Kiribati (6000 arrivals), 192. Marshall Islands (5000), 193. Tuvalu (1000).

Improvements

This post was inspired by Gunnar Garfors, who in 2015 compiled a list of the least touristed countries from a wide array of sources beyond only the UNWTO.

His list of 25 countries is very similar, with some notable differences in the bottom 3 countries: 23. Tuvalu (1200 inbound tourists), 24. Somalia (400), 25. Nauru (160).

tl;dr

According to the UNWTO the 3 countries that have the lowest number of inbound tourists in 2014 were: 191. Kiribiti (6000 inbound tourists), 192. Marshall Islands (5000), 193. Tuvalu (1000)

Footnotes

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.