Best Countries

How we score

Overall Best Countries Ranking

Switzerland

#1 in Best Countries Overall

Not Previously Ranked

Switzerland, officially called the Swiss Federation, is a small country in Central Europe made up of 16,000 square miles of glacier-carved Alps, lakes and valleys. It’s one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and has been well-known for centuries for its neutrality.

The Swiss Confederation was initially founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among cantons. In 1499, the Confederation became independent from the Holy Roman Empire. In 1848, a new constitution turned the Confederation into a centralized federal government, ending a period of conflict. Since then, the country has enjoyed relative tranquility.

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$701.0 billion GDP 8.3 million POPULATION $58,647 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

Canada

#2 in Best Countries Overall

No Change in Rank from 2016

Canada takes up about two-fifths of the North American continent, making it the second-largest country in the world after Russia. The country is sparsely populated, with most of its 35.5 million residents living within 125 miles of the U.S. border. Canada’s expansive wilderness to the north plays a large role in Canadian identity, as does the country’s reputation of welcoming immigrants.

Although the Norse briefly settled in Canada during the 10th century, European exploration accelerated in the 1500s. France and Britain angled for control over the region, with the British cementing their dominance in 1763. The country was a collection of British colonies until it became a self-governing dominion in 1867.

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$1.8 trillion GDP 35.9 million POPULATION $45,602 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

United Kingdom

#3 in Best Countries Overall

No Change in Rank from 2016

The United Kingdom is a highly developed nation that exerts considerable international economic, political, scientific and cultural influence. Located off the northwest corner of Europe, the country includes the island of Great Britain – which contains England, Scotland and Wales – and the northern portion of the island of Ireland.

The year 2017 ushered in anxiety about the country’s role on the global stage, due to the public voting in the summer of 2016 to leave the European Union. The vote raises questions about the European Union, as well as thepolicies supporting the eurozone.

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$3.0 trillion GDP 65.1 million POPULATION $41,499 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

Germany

#4 in Best Countries Overall

#1 out of 60 in 2016

Germany, the most populous nation in the European Union, possesses one of the largest economies in the world and has seen its role in the international community grow steadily since reunification. The Central European country borders nine nations, and its landscape varies, from the northern plains that reach to the North and Baltic seas to the Bavarian Alps in the south.

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$3.9 trillion GDP 81.4 million POPULATION $46,974 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

Japan

#5 in Best Countries Overall

#7 out of 60 in 2016

Japan, one of the world’s most literate and technically advanced nations, is an East Asian country made up of four main islands. While most of Japan is covered by mountains and heavily wooded areas, the country’s roughly 126 million people lead a distinctly urban lifestyle. Long culturally influenced by its neighbors, today the country blends its ancient traditions with aspects of Western life.

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$4.6 trillion GDP 127.0 million POPULATION $38,142 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

Sweden

#6 in Best Countries Overall

#5 out of 60 in 2016

The Kingdom of Sweden, flanked by Norway to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east, expands across much of the Scandinavian Peninsula and is one of the largest countries in the European Union by land mass. Capital city Stockholm was claimed in the 16th century, and border disputes through the Middle Ages established the modern-day nation.

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$571.1 billion GDP 9.8 million POPULATION $48,199 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

United States

#7 in Best Countries Overall

#4 out of 60 in 2016

The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world’s most dominant economic and military power. Likewise, its cultural imprint spans the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television. In 2016 the country elected Donald Trump president, whose campaign rhetoric raised questions around the world, including from the country’s closest allies, about the nation’s future course on the global stage.

Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. launched its War on Terror, including the Iraq War, the ongoing war in Afghanistan and other military strikes, including the 2011 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The war has had wide-reaching effects on the country’s politics, economy and global alliances that resonate to this day.

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$17.4 trillion GDP 321.4 million POPULATION $56,084 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

Australia

#8 in Best Countries Overall

#6 out of 60 in 2016

The Commonwealth of Australia occupies the Australian continent. The country also includes some islands, most notably Tasmania. Indigenous people occupied the land for at least 40,000 years before the first British settlements of the 18th century.

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$1.5 trillion GDP 23.8 million POPULATION $47,644 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

France

#9 in Best Countries Overall

#8 out of 60 in 2016

It is difficult to overstate the influence France has on the world, both in the past and today. Located in Western Europe, France is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its reach extends around the globe through science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture.

Starting in the Middle Ages, France evolved through kingdom, empire and finally, into a republic. It was one of the first nations to champion the rights of the individual. France today is a democracy with a separation of power falling between executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

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$2.8 trillion GDP 66.8 million POPULATION $41,476 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

Norway

#10 in Best Countries Overall

Not Previously Ranked

The Kingdom of Norway is the westernmost country in the Scandinavian peninsula, made up mostly of mountainous terrain. Nearly all of its population lives in the south, surrounding the capital, Oslo. Norway’s coastline is made up of thousands of miles of fjords, bays and island shores.

The Norwegians developed a maritime culture, and were active throughout the Viking era, establishing settlements in Iceland and Greenland. For many years, Norway’s fate was tied to Denmark and Sweden. In 1905, Norway gained independence from Sweden through a referendum. The country was neutral during both World Wars but was nonetheless occupied by Nazi Germany for five years.

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$499.8 billion GDP 5.2 million POPULATION $68,592 GDP PER CAPITA, PPP

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