Bill Alen - Nov 18, 2008
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Would you keep a cell phone or a wallet if you happened to find one? Or would you hand it in at the police station? And how about the others? These are the questions the Readers Digest magazine asked. A survey did not seem to be the right way to find out – mostly, people would not admit that they would actually keep the phone anyway. That is why the journalists decided to make an experiment. They chose some of the world’s cities and capitals and “lost” 30 cell phones in each of them. Then they checked the nearest police stations and waited for a call from the finder. According to the number of cell phones they managed to get back in the end, they put together a list world’s top ten honest cities. Tourism Review introduces the winners.

1/ Ljubljana

phones: 29/30

The capital of Slovenia was definitely a very surprising winner of the test. The inhabitants of the Central and Eastern Europe are generally not considered to be the models of honesty and uprightness. Here the Slovenians proved this prejudice to be a bit out of date! In Ljubljana, 29 out of 30 lost cell phones returned to their owner and only one changed its possessor definitely, which is simply amazing.

2/ Toronto

phones: 28/30

The largest city of Canada can also be proud of its inhabitants. Only two cell phones got completely lost here, 28 were returned. This rank is nevertheless not in the slightest as surprising as the victory of Ljubljana – Canada has for many years occupied top ranks in the surveys of life quality and contentedness of population. Why would the happy satisfied Canadians steal other people’s cell phones?

3/ Seoul

phones: 27/30

As for newest technologies and so-called “toys for big boys”, South Korea is one of the world’s leading countries. What we Europeans consider modern technology is “from the past” for Koreans. It is thus no wonder that only 3 people wanted to keep the cell phone they found – and it would not be much of a surprise if these three people were tourists.

4/ Stockholm

phones: 26/30

The first north European city on the list, Stockholm ranked fourth. This is a bit of a disappointment actually for the countries of northern Europe are said to have one of the lowest criminality rates in the world – a story says that a guy left his wallet on the bus stop and found it on the same spot two dates later, with all the money and cards in it. On the other hand, Reykjavik or Oslo did not even manage to get into the top 10 – so congratulations, Stockholm!

5/ Mumbai

phones: 24/30

The second Asian city in the ranking, Mumbai has nothing to be ashamed of. Considering the living standards and comparing them to those of e.g. the above mentioned Stockholm, it is quite surprising that this city ranked among the top 5. Obviously, the poverty does not make one less honorable.

5/ Manila

phones: 24/30

Another Asian surprise! The capital and second most populated city of Philippines shares the fifth rank in this “honesty contest” with Mumbai and New York and beat such rivals as e.g. Helsinki. 24 out of 30 citizens returned the cell phone they found to its owner and thus supported the good image of their city and country.

5/ New York

phones: 24/30

Fifth position is not a bad one for New York – considering the number of inhabitants and tourists, plus the absolute anonymity one has in the Big Apple, it is actually amazing that four fifths of this enormous variety of people, no matter what their nationality or religion, are honest and trustworthy.

6/ Helsinki

phones: 23/30

Sharing the sixth position with two eastern European capitals – Budapest and Warsaw – Helsinki is the second and the last representative of Northern Europe here. This proves that the post-communist countries (Hungary and Poland) are treading on the heels of their partners from the Western Europe, which is definitely a good thing to do.

6/ Budapest

phones: 23/30

The success of Eastern Europe in this little contest is marked not only by Ljubljana being the winner, but also other two capitals in the top ten. Budapest, the capital of Hungary and a popular destination for tourists from near and far, boasts of the eighth position.

6/ Warsaw

phones: 23/30

Even though there are many jokes about Poland and the Poles, especially as to their strong religiosity, jaggedness and greed, the capital of Poland made it to the top ten.

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  1. Ljubljana

    Its true that Ljubljana is not dangerous, but i dont believe is more honest than asian cities, when they cut tiefs hands, if they are stealing...but of the most safe places in europe definetely

  2. travel agent

    Congratulatión for your information.
    It´s very usefull.for tourists.
    The city where I live, Buenos Aires, is completely different.......
    I´m ashamed but.........

  3. East/Central, Balkan/not Balkan

    If you ask somebody from Hamburg, everything south of München is Balkan, if you ask someone from Bosnia, Slovenia is definitely not Balkan. Same thing goes for east/central/west - a matter of perspective.

    Benson (Slovenia)
  4. Journalist

    Staggered to find that Munich wasn't listed in the top most honest cities. I lived there till fairly recently and I have never come across a more honest or trusting population . A friend of mine left his laptop on the U-Bahn (metro) and sure enough 1 hour later he was able to fetch it after it had been handed into lost property. It is generally rated as one of the safest cities in the world as well as one of the most honest.

  5. what comes next ?

    what about the bottom of the list ? where can we find the results of the whole study ?

  6. Esel

    It's not a shame for Prague, it's a shame for the writer... Read the survey

  7. Helsinki not communist

    Hi there. Our neighbour country Finland hasn't been part of the Sovjet union nor a former communist country. Could you change that in the text.

  8. Making it clear

    Nobody says in the article that Helsinki is from post communist country. It only says that Helsinki shares the 6th position with Budapest and Warsaw that ARE from post communist countriers.

    (Czech Republic)
  9. Ehm, laughing a bit when reading comments like how Slovenia is not in eastern Europe and Slovakia is. My dear fellow Slovenians didn\\\'t we learn at school that Slovakia is a central European country? When complicating about how poorly other nations can locate our small country in Europe, try checking first if you can do better locating another small country.
    BTW I forgot my laptop on a bus station in Ljubljana once for 15 minutes and it was still waiting for me when I got back :)

    Eva (Slovenia)
  10. Newone

    I live in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. We are very proud of our beautiful, green city. I would like to correct you on one thing; SLOVENIA(and of course Ljubljana) was NEVER IN EASTERN EUROPE. As many uneducated people mix Slovenia with Slovakia(which really is in eastern Europe). Slovenia is on the border of south and central Europe. I feel obligated to advise you that you should look at the world map.
    And thank you for the positive review.
    have a nice day!

  11. Correction

    Like Vido already said, Slovenia is not located in Eastern Europe. Author should correct this.

    From Wikipedia:
    Slovenia /sloʊˈviːniə/, officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: Republika Slovenija), is a country in southern Central Europe bordering Italy to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north.

  12. Slovenia is in eastern area

    It's meant the past - we were part of Yugoslavia and with that part of Eastern Europe (politically). It is not relevant where we are located in Europe, it is the past appended to us from communist times...

  13. I bet it was some noble western tourist that snatchad the only phone in not-model-of-honesty-eastern-bloc-slovenia" :)

  14. Totally true

    I live in north-west Slovenia and i have lost a wallet with money in it twice, my cell phone twice and a car keys once and i all got it back the same day i lost it.

  15. "Eastern European" a badge of shame?

    "many uneducated people mix Slovenia with Slovakia(which really is in eastern Europe)" - Vido

    If we're throwing geography and "uneducated people" around, somebody apparently doesn't realize that the Slovakian capital is only about 2.5 degrees more eastward than the Slovenian capital.

    "Eastern" and "Western" Europe are more psychological and political categories than strictly geographical ones. During the Cold War, East Germany was commonly lumped in the East Europe, whereas Austria, the south of Italy, and sometimes even Greece (which are all geographically more eastward) were considered parts of Western Europe.

    To most "Westerners", "Eastern" Europe is still a synonym for (a) ex-communist (b) "Slavic" (doesn't speak a "cool" language, regardless of whether it's really Slavic) (c) very poor (d) not nice (e) likely to steal your wallet or phone. That's why the survey author was surprised: "The inhabitants of the Central and Eastern Europe are generally not considered to be the models of honesty and uprightness."

    Slovenia has done a lot to rid itself of that stigma, and congratulations to it for that. But it will always be a Slavic and ex-communist country, and perhaps _some_ of that distancing from other "Pih! Eastern!" nations is futile. Instead of saying "WE'RE not eastern! The Slovaks are the eastern ones!" maybe we could all work against the prejudice and get to the point where a tourism website can't honestly say anymore that "those Slavic ex-communist people are not considered a model of honesty and uprightness".

    (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
  16. Stunned

    Surprised to see Ljubljana got to the top... Maybe they made the test with some old outdated mobile phones... Nonono, just joking...
    I found a mobile phone recently. Maybe it was one ot the test mobiles? I tried to call the owner but it was locked. So I left it in a nearby bar and explained the waitress that the owner might call and try to get it back... I mean, what on earth would I do with somebody elses phone??

    By the way, everything east of Portugal can be called Eastern Europe so cut the crap already, allright? It's only us Slovenians that are so touchy about this matter. Actually before joining European Union even Italians thought we were part of Soviet Union. We're smack center of Europe, nor east or west. We got snow, we got sea we got wine we got schliwowitz we got beer. This is for all of us touchy Slovenians: shut up about East/West already and change the subject: let's celebrate our honesty and get honestly drunk, na zdravje everyone! :)

  17. touchy Slovenes

    Making a big fuss about being labelled as "eastern" is actually the surest sign that a country is in Eastern Europe (or Central, same meaning).

    The other tell tale sign of 'easternness' is insisting that your eastern/southern neighbour is not really "European". A variant of this is claiming that your country is not in Southeastern Europe (i.e. the Balkans).

  18. Top 10 Most Honest Cities in the World

    how come it says top 10 honest cities but you only have 1 to 6 even technically its 10 but how about Japan?? have you ever been there or tried it?? coz Japan is one of the most honest cities in the world..why do i know coz i lived there for 20 years...

  19. Mumbai?? New York???

    What an arbitrary (yet cute) list with no substantiated evidence. Ljubljana is a fine city, but after living in Delhi, I find it hard to believe that any city in India could get a top 10 rank in honesty. I was robbed blind daily (!) in Delhi.

    I live in New York, so maybe my comment above proves true: we're just too honest.

  20. It's true what Karen said.

    Hi, I'm Phil from Ukraine and I wonder why no cities from Ukraine were listed on this list.


  21. Enough of such a stupid fabrication!

    Seoul? New york?
    Hey hey hey, gimme a break!!!
    Don't make me laugh!

  22. I am an Indian living in helsinki and I was pleasantly surprised to find mumbai ahead of helsinki in the list. Contradictory to assumptions around the world, Indians are honest people. I have heard of tourists being cheated often, but I guess that is usually done by uneducated people who think they are getting 'even' with the 'white' people who once ruled india. I do hope to see more south asian cities on the list in the future :)

  23. I've bee to the Philippines many times and never had anything stolen from me but I wouldn't leave my cellphone laying on the jeepney seat hoping someone would return it . However just like any big city anywhere there are good people and bad people but if you venture away from manila into the provinces you will find the filipino people are the most warm and loving people you will ever meet.

  24. One or two things going on here...

    It's either this review is sarcastically done. Or you guys are just trying to solicit traffic.

    Seriously, you guys are out of your minds! New York? Manila? Seriously? And I'm from the Philippines, by the way.

  25. Poor example

    A cell phone is not a good example to measure honesty with. A cell phone has limited use to any finder. He may be able to use it to make a call once or twice, but once it's loss is discovered, the phone becomes useless. A better example would be cash. It has no expiration date.

    Mr Ron (USA)
  26. Manila ..Must Be Jocking

    I spend a lot of time in the Philippines and I can tell you I've had a cell phone stolen out of my pocket, my wife's purse with pilfered and money stolen, my car has had tyre valve caps stolen etc, I've actually seen police drag in pickpockets while we were at the station reporting outr lose.. It's a major problem.. don't be FOOLED by this survey.. it does not add up to the honesty on the street..

    Laurence William (United Kingdom)
  27. Toronto??

    I live here and its corrupt, filled with perscreption abusing assholes pretending to be nice human-beings! Moving to either Australia or Norway soon

    Turkboy (Canada)

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