January 24th, 2019 | Updated on July 22nd, 2022
As 2019 begins, there are plenty of reasons to believe the world is on the cusp of coming apart.
- Growing anxiety about possible economic slowdowns.
- The possibility of a future trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
- Rising public anger at tech conglomerates and governments about digital security.
- The accelerating pace of global warming that is exceeding scientists’ predictions.
- Continued wars, record numbers of refugees, growing levels of inequality and the looming Brexit.
In an assessment of all that shapes a country, from quality of life to economic potential, these countries performed the best overall in the 2019 Best Countries rankings based on a study that surveyed people about their views of 80 countries on 75 different metrics.
The Best Countries rankings are formed in partnership between U.S. News & World Report, BAV Group (a unit of global marketing communications company VMLY&R) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The rankings aim to gauge global perceptions of the world’s largest economies.
For the third year in a row, Switzerland is considered the No. 1 Best Country. The country, well-known for its history of neutrality, ranks No. 3 in citizenship and No. 2 in being open for business.
Japan jumps three positions from 2018 to rank No. 2 overall. It is the highest-ranked Asian country and it ranks No. 5 among movers and No. 1 as the most forward-looking country.
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Canada, the second-largest country in the world in terms of landmass, ranks No. 3 overall. It takes the top spot in its perceived quality of life and No. 2 in terms of the best countries to headquarter a corporation.
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Germany is ranked No. 4 overall and lands in the top five for its perceived sense of entrepreneurship, power and international influence. The country’s leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has one of the highest global approval ratings among prominent global leaders.
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5. United Kingdom
The U.K. ranks No. 5 overall. The nation that is facing departure from the European Union fell one spot overall and in its perceived entrepreneurship compared to the 2018 rankings. It maintained its No. 5 spot in its cultural influence.
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Sweden, one of the most generous countries in terms of contributing funds to humanitarian aid, ranks No. 6 overall. The country is No. 2 in its perceived quality of life and No. 4 in being open for business.
Australia is the No. 7 Best Country overall. The Land Down Under – No. 7 in its perceived quality of life and No. 8 in its culltural Influence – also ranks in the top 10 in many areas, including education and the best country to travel alone.
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8. United States
For the second year, the U.S. ranked No. 8 overall. The country with the largest economy in the world is also considered the most powerful. It ranks No. 3 in entrepreneurship and No. 4 in its cultural influence, as well.
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Norway, which has twice rejected European Union membership, rose three spots to rank No. 9 overall. The country takes the No. 1 spot for citizenship and transparency.
France, one of the most visited countries in the world, ranks No. 10 overall. It is No. 2 in its cultural influence and No. 6 in power.
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The Netherlands fell one spot this year to rank No. 11 overall. The Dutch were the first to legalize same-sex marriage, and national policies on drugs and abortion are liberal; their country ranks No. 8 in offering a top quality of life.
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12. New Zealand
New Zealand is the No. 12 Best Country overall, faring one spot better than last year. The country’s education expenditures as a percent of gross domestic product are among the highest in the world, and it ranks No. 13 in the best countries for education. It is also considered the No. 1 country to retire comfortably.
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Norway’s Nordic neighbor, Denmark, ranks No. 13 overall. It is considered the No. 2 best country for women and best country to raise kids and No. 5 in being open for business.
Finland ranks No. 14 overall for the second year. The country maintains top five spots in being one of the best countries to raise kids, transparency and offering green living.
Singapore, ranked No. 15 overall, boasts one of the world’s highest gross domestic products per capita. Considered one of Asia’s four economic tigers, the country ranks No. 2 in movers and No. 4 in being one of the best countries to start a business.
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China, one of the world’s most populous countries, jumps four spots this year to rank No. 16 overall. It is considered to be the third-most powerful country as well as the third-best country in which to start a business.
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In its Best Countries debut, Belgium ranks No. 17 overall. Home to headquarters of the European Union and NATO, the country ranks No. 10 in terms of transparency and in being one of the best countries to raise kids.
Italy ranks No. 18 overall, falling three spots from 2018. Known for its many historical cities, world-renown cuisine and geographic beauty, the country takes top spots in heritage and cultural influence.
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Luxembourg ranks No. 19 overall. Despite stricter tax codes that hit the European Union in 2015, the country ranks No. 1 in being open for business and No. 3 in Best Countries to headquarter a corporation.
Spain, ranked No. 20 overall, is also one of the top countries for offering adventure. It ranks No. 2 for heritage and No. 1 for Best Countries to travel alone.
Ireland ranks No. 21 overall. The Emerald Isle also places No. 13 in being open for business, a two-spot drop from last year, and No. 15 in citizenship.
22. South Korea
South Korea ranks No. 22 overall for the second year. The country is considered the No. 4 most forward-looking country and the No. 8 best country for entrepreneurship.
23. United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, one of the most liberal of the Gulf states, ranks No. 23 overall. It is No. 1 in movers and No. 11 in power.
Russia, ranking No. 24, returns to the top 25 Best Countries for the first time since 2016. It is seen as both the second-most powerful country and the second-most influential country in the world.
Portugal, ranked No. 25 overall, is considered to be one of the best countries to travel alone. It also ranks highly as one of the best countries to retire comfortably, at No. 8.
Source: U.S. News