Which country is the best country? Simple answers to this question are easy to find, but change dramatically depending upon personal opinion and one's definition of the word "best". Is it the country with the most wealth? The one with the greatest personal freedoms? Or perhaps the one with the highest happiness, most Nobel Prize winners, largest actual size, or something else entirely? Scientifically and statistically sound answers, on the other hand, are much more challenging to obtain.
One of the most sophisticated and respected attempts to determine the world's "best" countries is the annual Best Countries rankings, which is generated by the US News and World Report with the help of BAV Group and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. The Best Countries rankings begin with the selection of the 85 countries most likely to appear in the "best" rankings. These countries produce approximately 95% of global gross domestic product and represent almost 80% of the world's population. More than 17,000 surveys are then conducted regarding these nations, with specific attention paid to 73 specific country attributes. The results of these surveys are then compiled to produce a statistically valid, data-backed ranking of the "best" countries.
*For full rankings of every country in every major category grouping, see the table at page bottom.
The 73 country attributes surveyed by the Best Countries rankings can be grouped into 10 overarching subranking categories such as Social Purpose, Power, and Cultural Influence, each of which contribute a weighted percentage of the final country rankings. 68 attributes are listed below. The remaining five attributes tracked are used for purposes other than determining the country rankings, and so are not shown.
|Adventure||5.48%||Friendliness, fun, tourism appeal, climate, scenery, sexiness|
|Agility||13.96%||Adaptability, progressiveness, responsiveness|
|Cultural Influence||10.36%||Modernism, cultural significance of entertainment, fashionability, happiness, cultural influence, strength of consumer brands, prestige, trendiness|
|Entrepreneurship||14.17%||Connection to rest of the world, education of population, entrepreneurialism, innovativeness, ease of access to capital, skill of labor force, technological expertise, transparency of business practices, digital infrastructure, physical infrastructure, development of legal framework|
|Heritage||3.09%||Cultural accessibility, richness of history, cuisine quality, cultural attractions, geographical attractions|
|Movers||10.57%||Dynamism, difference, distinctiveness, uniqueness|
|Open for Business||9.35%||Manufacturing costs, favorability of tax environment, degree of bureaucracy, corruption, transparency of government practices|
|Power||5.02%||Global leadership, economic influence, strength of exports, political influence, strength of international alliances, strength of military|
|Quality of Life||14.52%||Strength of job market, affordability, economic stablity, family-friendliness, income equality, political stability, safety, development of public education system, development of public health system|
|Social Purpose||13.49%||Care for animal rights, care for human rights, care about environment, commitment to climate goals, commitment to social justice, gender equality, racial equality, religious freedom, respect for property rights, trustworthiness, distribution of political power|
A consistent top performer, Switzerland ranked #4 in 2021 and moved to #1 in 2022. Known for its historic neutrality even during World War II, Switzerland led the world in the Open for Business category in 2022 and also scored in the top ten in the categories of Cultural Influence (8th), Social Purpose (8th), Entrepreneurship (7th), and Quality of Life (4th). Switzerland has low unemployment, a skilled workforce, highly developed financial services and high-tech manufacturing industries, and one of the highest gross domestic products per capita in the world. The Swiss have also collected more patents and [Nobel Prizes] per capita than any other citizenry and enjoy one of the world's longest life expectancies of any country.
Third in the 2021 overall rankings and second in 2022, Germany posted top-ten scores in the categories of Entrepreneurship (1st), Agility (2nd), Power (4th), Quality of Life (7th), and Social Purpose (9). Germany commands one of the world's largest economies and is a leading importer and exporter. Germany's economy is populated by skilled workers and led by a service sector strong in telecommunications, health care, and tourism.
Canada took first place in the 2021 rankings and dropped only two spots in 2022. The second-largest country in the world in terms of total area, Canada is the only country among 2022's top five that did not achieve the #1 ranking in at least one of the ten categories. Nonetheless, Canada posted top-ten rankings in Agility (3rd), Entrepreneurship (8th), Open for Business (10th), Quality of Life (3rd), and Social Purpose (5th). Canada boasts a high standard of living and has embraced its multiculturalism admirably. Its economy is driven by a healthy service sector. Canada also has some of the world's largest oil reserves and is one of the world's leading oil producers.
The fourth-best country of 2022 (and sixth-best of 2021) is the United States, which ranked first in both the Agility and Power categories, as well as second in Entrepreneurship and third in Cultural Influence. The reach and impact of the US is significant, from its economic and military influence to its pop culture, spread by music, movies, and television programming. The US has the highest GDP in the world (and the highest GNI/GDI as well), and is one of the most technologically advanced countries. The US also boasts the highest military spending (though arguably not the largest military).
Sweden (fifth place in 2022, ninth in 2021) ranked first in both Quality of Life and Social Purpose in 2022, and also ranked high in Open for Business (7th), Entrepreneurship (9th), and Agility (6th). Similar to the Swiss, the people of Sweden enjoy quite high life expectancies and have remained largely neutral through many significant military conflicts. While Sweden's taxes are high compared to many other countries, they are often used to benefit society as a whole, such as providing all citizens with no-cost health care and tuition-free university education. Sweden is also among the world's greenest countries, with a high recycling rate. Swedes are also known to be quite generous, and donate the equivalent to roughly 1% of the country's gross national product to aid programs each year.
Overall 2022 Rank
Cultural Influence Rank
Open for Business Rank
Quality of Life Rank
Social Purpose Rank
|United Arab Emirates||21||55||18||14||18||53||1||57||9||26||61|