Based on that, it's easy to see how sparsely populated states like the Dakotas, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming would fare well in terms of air and water quality.
Yet, Hawaii is the 13th most-densely populated state in the nation and New Hampshire not far behind at 21. Alaska, with fewer people per square mile than any other state (according to Census Department data), didn't even make the top 25 in the category.
Attractions clearly play a role, which explains Hawaii's perennial strong showing. Natural beauty, national parks, skiing, hiking, boating also no doubt helped Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
Though New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine have some of those features, the big qualifier (and their high rankings) is that the states have three of the lowest violent-crime rates in the nation.
Undesirable crime rates arguably contributed to the rankings of four of the five worst states in our Quality of Life category: Louisiana, (50), Delaware (49), Tennessee (48) and Nevada(46).
Louisiana, by the way, has finished last for five years in a row. Even with the Crescent City? Of course, some consider New Orleans a city-state. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
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