Switzerland is the best country in the world, according to a new study from U.S. News & World Report.
The media organisation notable for its influential US university rankings evaluated 80 countries across a range of criteria, from economic influence to citizenship and quality of life.
By surveying more than 21,000 business leaders, informed elites, and general citizens, the aim of the “2017 Best Countries” report is to discover how nations are perceived on a global scale.
It’s the second year the in-depth study, written in collaboration with Y&R’s BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has been published.
Political turmoil throughout 2016 has taken its toll on the standing of several major world powers. The US slipped three places, while Germany last year’s number one fell to fourth place.
Scroll down to see the 24 best countries in the world, ranked in ascending order.
24. Portugal — Despite not being the wealthiest or most powerful nation, Portugal is rich in cultural history and is one of the best countries to retire or travel to, according to US News.
Editor and chief content officer Brian Kelly explained: “The Best Countries portal pairs fact-based metrics with storytelling to help citizens, business leaders and governments better evaluate their countries.”
23. South Korea — It’s home to an impressive 12 UNESCO Heritage Sites, but while South Korea owes a lot to the 18 million tourists who visit each year, most of its success is due to its “high-tech, service-based economy,” which contributes to its $1.3 trillion GDP.
22. United Arab Emirates — The UAE’s oil-rich surroundings means it has fast become one of the wealthiest nations on Earth and topped US News’ rankings of up-and-coming economies.
It was the only Middle Eastern nation to crack the top 25, and was also named one of the best places for students to study abroad.
20. China — Aside from being one of the top five most powerful nations, China was also commended for its colossal economy and its influence on the global stage.
19. Spain — Spain’s rich culture was recognised in the study and the country was named one of the world’s best places to visit. Respondents from Spain were also the most receptive to open immigration policies.
18. Austria — Germany’s neighbour scored well across the board. It excelled in the ranking of the best countries for women, coming in ninth place.
17. Luxembourg — Luxembourg has the second highest GDP per capita in the world. Its government’s transparency and favourable tax environment mean it ranked highly in the ‘open for business’ category, which evaluates corporate opportunity.
16. Italy — The resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in 2016 left Italy politically shaken. The instability meant the country fell three places in this year’s ranking but, according to the study, it still has more cultural influence than any other country and some of the richest traditions.
15. Singapore — The island city state of Singapore retained its position in this year’s ranking and was named one of the best countries to invest in.
14. New Zealand — Often recognised for its stunning scenery, New Zealand was lauded for its religious freedom and gender equality. US News also called it the best country in the world to retire to.
13. Finland — Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nordic countries occupy several places on the list. Finland scored highly across the majority of categories but topped the transparency leaderboard.
12. Denmark — According to the report, Denmark is the second best country in the world to raise children, beaten only by Sweden.
11. Netherlands — As a relatively young country, the Netherlands has come a remarkably long way. It was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, and also holds liberal attitudes towards drugs, prostitution, and abortion.
9. France — France dropped one place in this year’s ranking amid a period of political uncertainty in the country as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen closes in on the presidency. US News’ report found that France is the least receptive European nation to more open immigration policies.
8. Australia — Second only to New Zealand as the best country in the world to retire to, Australia was also named one of the best countries to headquarter a corporation in.
7. United States — Nearly 75% of respondents said they lost ‘some respect’ for US leadership after the presidential election. The country fell in several categories including best for business, citizenship, education, and transparency — but it’s still the most powerful nation on Earth.
6. Sweden — Sweden was the highest ranking Nordic nation on the list. It was named the best country for women, for raising children, and for green living.
The report found happiness is 72% correlated to gender equality in a country, but only 34% percent correlated to wealth, or gross domestic product per capita.
5. Japan — Japan moved up two positions to number five this year, thanks to its political and economic stability. The nation scores in the top 10 for categories including entrepreneurship, up-and-coming economies, and countries with the most cultural influence.
4. Germany — Last year’s number one has fallen three places. Growing anxiety over an influx of refugees into the European nation and a series of terror attacks resulted in a weaker performance in 2017’s ranking.
However, Germany was still named the best country in the world for entrepreneurship.
3. United Kingdom — Britain and Northern Ireland have fended off the shock of the EU referendum result to retain their high place in the ranking. The UK was also named the fourth most powerful nation and was recognised for its cultural influence.
2. Canada — Canada boasted the highest quality of life of any of the countries, meaning it’s economically and politically stable, family friendly, and has well-developed public health and education systems.