World Facts

The 25 Best Countries To Live In

Scandinavia emerges as the most prosperous region worldwide, along with selections from Oceania, North America, and continental Europe.

According to a study conducted by the Legatum Institute in 2016, New Zealand is the best country to live in today. It is followed by Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. Below, we will dissect the top ten countries that made it to the top of the list of this prestigious ranking, and the reasons for their inclusion.

The Top Ten Countries to Live In

10. United Kingdom

Located in Northwestern Europe, the United Kingdom is actually made up of the four countries of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. A consistent ranker on the list of the world's best places to live, the UK boasts a strong network of healthcare and education infrastructure. In fact, the quality of both education and healthcare has been on the rise in the United Kingdom in recent years. Although the economic prosperity of the country is comparatively strong, its lack of growth is what keeps the country moving from its spot at the end of the top ten.

9. Denmark

Although 9th is still an impressive ranking, it represents a drop for the Nordic country of Denmark when compared to its performance a decade ago. Much of this loss can be accounted for by the stunted economic growth in the country, as well as the rise of populist parties such as the Danish People's Party, which affects the country's ranking in the category of "safety and security". However, Denmark still enjoys some of the world's highest per capita incomes, as well the the world's highest protection of civil liberties.

8. Sweden

Denmark's Nordic neighbor to the north, Sweden, is also a common inclusion on the list of the world's most desirable countries in which to live. However, like Denmark, Sweden's ranking has been dropping in recent years. In fact, Sweden was ranked first by the Legatum Prosperity Index three years in a row in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Despite this slip, Swedes still experience some of the best quality of life in the world, with very good access to excellent quality education and health services.

7. The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a relatively small country found in Western Europe. With over 16.5 million people, the Netherlands is one of the world's most densely populated countries. Citizens of the Netherlands enjoy a country that is well-governed and free from corruption. The Netherlands also boasts a very strong system of social services, including healthcare and education.

6. Australia

The first non-European entry on this list, Australia ranks as the sixth best country to live in in the world. With around 20 million people, much of Australia's population lives on the country's periphery. It is one of the world's least densely populated countries. A strong health care system, and a prosperous business environment are just two of the factors contributing to Australia's high ranking.

5. Canada

The only North American country on this list, Canada is another common inclusion of the list of the world's best countries to live in. Since 2013, the Legatum Prosperity Index has been ranking Canada in the top 5 countries. Canada gets accolades for good government and a high degree of individual freedom.

4. Switzerland

Switzerland is a relatively small country, landlocked and mountainous. It is also consistently ranked among the world's best countries in which to live. Its high-tech economy affords its citizens some of the highest per-capita incomes on the planet. In addition to this, the Swiss enjoy an excellent health care and education system.

3. Finland

Finland, though always a high-ranking country, has made even stronger improvements over recent years. This is mostly due to even greater improvements in healthcare and education, as well as the areas of governance and personal freedom. Although per capita income has dropped slightly in Finland over recent years, the country remains incredibly prosperous. Finland also enjoys a very high degree of press freedom, and a very small gender gap.

2. Norway

Having previously ranked first in recent years, Norway came in second in the most recent ranking. As one of the world's wealthiest and least-corrupt countries, Norwegians experience an incredibly high quality of life. Thanks to a strong infrastructure of social services, Norway ranks high on just about every metric used to determine quality of life within a country, including health, education, governance, and freedom. Norway also consistently ranks as one of the world's happiest countries.

1. New Zealand

New Zealand is the world's best country to live in. Located in the Southern Hemisphere, and comprising of a North Island and a South Island, New Zealand's 4.8 million residents enjoy incredibly high quality levels of education, health care, economic opportunities, freedom, governance, and more. In recent years, New Zealand's prosperity has been growing steadily, along with its quality of life. This is the fourth consecutive year that New Zealand has held the top spot.

What Makes a Country a Good Place to Live?

This research is based on the Legatum "Prosperity Index" of each nation, and does not take into account some of the other factors that were previously mentioned like climate, lifestyle, and population.

To be specific about the classification, the distinctive categories taken into account by Legatum’s ranking are economic growth, personal freedom, health, education, wealth, quality of life, and personal well-being. It is important to note that Legatum defines a country to include 148 nations as well as Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of China.

This is only one ranking of the world's best countries. Every ranking always has a degree of subjectivity. A model utilized by the United Nations to conduct a similar study utilizes three major categories of human development, namely ready access to education, decent standard of living, and long, healthy lives. This Human Development Index, or HDI, is “a measure of basic human developments within 188 countries, released by the UN in its annual Human Development Report.”

Best Countries To Live In The World Ranked

CountryLegatum Index Prosperity Ranking
New Zealand1
United Kingdom10
United States17
Hong Kong23
Portugal 25

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