Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) could be faster than Tor but they are not anonymity networks, because the administrators of the VPN can know both where you are connecting from and where you are connecting to and break your anonymity. Tor provides anonymity by making it impossible for a single point in the network to know both the origin and the destination of a connection.
When using a VPN, an attacker can also break your anonymity by monitoring the incoming and outgoing connections of the few servers of the VPN. On the other hand, the Tor network is formed by over 6000 relays run worldwide by volunteers.
Tor is the anonymity network with the largest user base. More than 2 000 000 users connected to Tor daily in 2019. Being adopted by such a large audience proves its maturity, stability, and usability.
Tor is being used equally by journalists, law enforcement, governments, human rights activists, business leaders, militaries, abuse victims and average citizens concerned about online privacy. This diversity actually provides stronger anonymity to everyone as it makes it more difficult to identify or target a specific profile of Tor user. Anonymity loves company.
Tor has been received awards by institutions such as the [Electronic Frontier Foundation](https://www.eff.org/awards/pioneer/2012), and the [Free Software Foundation](https://www.fsf.org/news/2010-free-software-awards-announced) to name a few.
An extract of a Top Secret appraisal by the NSA characterized Tor as "[the King of high secure, low latency Internet anonymity](http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/oct/04/tor-high-secure-internet-anonymity)" with "no contenders for the throne in waiting".