We all hear that 'the world's a big place' regularly, and with approximately 196 countries in the world, that's indisputable. But as travel gets easier, international cooperation becomes more efficient and visa applications become digitized, the options for travel are endless. When it comes to booking vacations or even selecting a new location in which to settle down, work and raise a family, most of us can pick and choose with relative ease depending on what we're looking for in our new land of choice.
Whatever climate or culture you desire, there's sure to be at least one location in the world that's bound to satisfy your needs. But, subjective concerns aside, which countries are truly the 'best'? Is it even possible to rank such a wide ranging ideal? Yes, in fact, such a list does exist. Bear with us...
Analysts at goodcountry.org have come up with a “Good Country Index” which has an overall ranking system for countries to determine which nations are truly 'good'. The notion of 'good' as defined by the GCI is based on numerous, widely representative factors including a country's contribution to protecting the planet and the climate, the nation's level of prosperity and equality, their contribution to international peacekeeping, and to the advancement of science and technology. This ranking, while controversial, is heavily fact- and statistic-based and gives us a general idea of each country's priorities, and of the qualities each country brings to the international community.
Whether you're simply a visitor, a citizen of the country, or a potential immigrant, there are definite perks to being part of the following 10 best countries in the world, as defined by their overall rankings on the Good Country Index.
Belgium has some impressive stats to back up its position as one of the 10 best countries in the world. Although it is among the top in the world for the categories of Prosperity and Equality and Health and Wellbeing, it is its number one ranking for Culture that helps this country secure its position on this list. It's rated extremely high for Creative Goods Exports, Creative Services Exports, Freedom of Movement, and Press Freedom. These positive rankings have gained the small European country recognition as one of the best countries in the world on a global scale, and an example for other lower performing countries to follow.
The beautiful country of Denmark is like none other. It ranks among the top countries for Culture, World Order, and Health and Wellbeing. Denmark is highly rated for Pharmaceutical Exports, Food Aid, Voluntary excess Donations to the WHO, and Humanitarian Aid Donations. It's known globally for its generosity towards world aid, so the fact that is makes it onto this top 10 list is, perhaps, no surprise. Although it's one of the smallest countries on our top 10, it's still making a big impact on the world.
With its picturesque landscapes and charming towns, Norway graces this list as the number 8 best country in the world. Although Norway only ranks among the top 10 for World Order and Planet and Climate, it has an undeniably strong global impact. Norway has a positive rating for Charity Giving, Refugees and UN Treaties Signed. All these positive signs show that the unity of the world is important to Norway, and they're not keeping their formidable wealth to themselves.
7 United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is home to everyone's favourite royals, led by the worthy Queen Elizabeth II. It's also the country that grabs the 7th position on the GCI. The UK is ranked among the top 10 for World Order, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing. However, it ranks as the number one country for Science and Technology. The UK is doing extremely well in the areas of Journal Exports, International Publications and Nobel Prizes. It's also performing strongly in the area of International Students. No wonder this powerful collection of countries breaches the top 10 best nations in the world.
Sweden is known for the famous housing store IKEA as well as Absolut Vodka. However, Sweden is also special because it holds the record (among the countries on this list) for ranking in the top 10 in the largest number of categories assessed by the Good Country Index. It's ranked 10 or above for Science and Technology, World Order, Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing. Coming in 3rd, after Iceland and Canada, for Planet and Climate, Sweden has a reputation for being conscious of its Biocapacity Reserve, CO2 Emissions, and other Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
5 New Zealand
New Zealand only ranked in the top 10 for 2 of the categories, those being Planet and Climate and Science and Technology. This unique country - whose residents are fondly referred to as Kiwis - ranks highly when it comes to Biocapacity Reserve as well as being aware of their C02 emissions. Lots of people live in eco-friendly homes in order to help the environment in this part of the Southern Hemisphere. The residents of NZ use the Environmental Choice New Zealand eco label when purchasing products to make sure that they cause minimal harm to their environment.
The Netherlands is famous for more than just clogs and a relaxed attitude to controlled substances and activities. In fact, it's classed in the top 10 countries for Culture, World Order, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing so it seems this country is on the right track for having a positive global impact. The Netherlands is rated very highly for freedom of movement (this concerning mainly visa restrictions) as well as Press Freedom. It seems this nation has nothing to hide, and as such the global community can have plenty of confidence in this small nation that could.
The home to the world famous Swiss Alps makes it to this list in third place. It's placed in the top 10 countries for Science and Technology, World Order, Prosperity and Equality, and Health and Wellbeing. Even though it ranks in 71st place in International Peace and Security - as a staunchly neutral nation - the country makes up for it in many other avenues. It has high ratings for Open Trading as well as FDI outflows and Fair Trade Market Size under the Prosperity and Equality category making it an almost ideal nation.
This country is located in the northern area of Europe. Although it's tiny, it definitely has a huge impact globally and locally. Finland ranks top in two subcategories - Science and Technology and Prosperity - and it seems this enterprising country is out to make the world a more unified and welcoming environment. Where education and knowledge is concerned, it holds a high number of Nobel prizes, and releases high volumes of quality international publications, as well as Journal Exports.
The coveted spot of number one best country goes, somewhat controversially, to the island of Ireland. Not only did it grab the number one position in the overall rankings, but it also ranks first in the category of Prosperity and Equality. The country, which is in the process of bouncing back from an almost crippling recession, supports Fair Trade and has a strong presence of UN volunteers abroad. It also ranks within the international top 10 for categories such as Culture, World Order, and Health and Wellbeing. However, no country is perfect and even this number 1 nation has garnered some negative press for its approach to issues like sexual equality; Ireland's largely Catholic constitution means it still lags behind many other European nations in terms of equal rights advancements.