Which is the best country in the world? You might wonder.
Well, it’s an open-ended question with many moving parts to it. When solving for it, nationalistic bravado usually kicks in, which creates a bias towards the country you were born in or the one you presently live in. Even the hard-core internationalists have a soft corner for their native countries.
Addressing the question is still a tall order, even if nationalism is removed from the equation. Mind you; a country is more than just a self-governed physical territory. Instead, it’s a queer mix of people, topographies, faiths, cultures, and whatnot. Some of these factors are quantifiable, and some aren’t. As such, a single formula to get the holistic measure of a country is non-existent.
How Does the World Bank Classify Countries?
A country’s currently used success indicators are either inadequate or grossly misleading. Take, for instance, the World Bank Classification. The World Bank quantifies economic and technological advancements along with the quality of life of the citizens to classify countries as:
For high-income countries, the name says it all. These countries have high per capita income, greater financial security, better living standards, more personal freedom, sound infrastructure, easy availability of nutrition and fresh water, and more. Conversely, low-income countries lack any of it. Despite the absence of a standard definition, middle-income countries hit the sweet spot between the two extremes. Simply put, these countries are neither too rich nor too poor.
A middle-income country’s standard of living and economic and technological growth speed is average compared to a high-income country. It may evolve into a high-income country or plummet to the depths of a low-income one, subject to factors. The World Bank employs the concept of “Gross National Income” (GNI), previously Gross National Product (GDP), to quantify a country’s economic well-being. GNI represents the average wealth of a country’s citizens.
Dunia Ka Gyan Classification Criteria
Again, a country like India is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and other stratification factors that are hard to quantify. Even a country like Bhutan can be a happy place to live in despite not-so-impressive GNI and other success indicators. With so much inconsistency, Team Dunia Ka Gyan took the prerogative of delivering a more inclusive classification. The idea here is to help you determine the best country in the world in different categories.
An undertaking of this magnitude requires excellent effort. Rather than relying on hearsay, we opted for firsthand knowledge. To evaluate countries holistically, we considered all key factors:
In the context of a country, history is more than just a record of events. It conveys a sense of identity and shows how systems, societies, economies, lifestyles, philosophies, laws, and other aspects have changed over time. Revisiting the past also helps understand present-day issues and preempt how a given society will behave under given circumstances.
It’s the lifeblood of a society. A holistic manifestation of human intellectual achievements, culture determines a society’s ability to act, react, and evolve. It indicates a society’s openness to embrace diversity, liberties, economic development, and values like tolerance, cooperation, and mutual respect. If you know a country’s culture, you know its essence – as simple as that.
The economy suggests how well a country is doing financially. A sound economy means more resources for social welfare programs at the government’s disposal. That, in turn, translates into better healthcare, education, social security, and fundamental public services required for a higher quality of life. Guess what? Several tangible indicators can help quantify the economy, like Per Capita Income (PCI), Per Capita Consumption (PCC), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), etc.
A healthy population contributes more to a nation’s economy and overall development. Anecdotally, high-income countries experienced 33 percent of GDP growth in the previous century due to their citizens’ improved health. Also, a good healthcare system manifests in reduced infant mortality rates, increased life expectancy, inclusive human resource development, and more.
Nothing accelerates a country’s development like education. Education shapes personalities, and personalities shape a country. The higher the literacy rate, the greater social, political, environmental, and financial awareness. When stakes are this high, we focus on determining a country’s education ecosystem, budget, and quality of education.
A prosperous country boasts a healthy environment conducive to tourism, health, and economic growth. When zeroing in on the best country in the world, such a critical factor couldn’t skip our radar.
Best Country In The World
1. The Best Country in the World (Pluralistic Culture): Canada
“Multiculturalism is the Defining Trait”
- CAPITAL: Ottawa
- REGION: North America
- GDP PER CAPITA, PPP: $50,661
- GDP (Nominal): $1.74 trillion
- POPULATION: 37,593,384
- AREA: 9,984,670 SQ. KM
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: English & French
- NATIONAL SPORT: Ice Hockey
- CURRENCY: Canadian Dollar
From a healthy economy to an assimilative culture, Canada has what it takes to top our list. It’s the second largest country by area but the population is sparse (3.8 million as of 2022). The earliest settlers in the region were of Siberian origin, landing here around 14,000 years ago via the Bering land bridge.
By the 10th century, Norse settlements sprang up, but the influx of European explorers arrived only in the 16th century. In the following centuries, the turf war simmered between England and France until the former edged out the latter in 1763 to take control of the region. Canada earned its self-governing dominion status in 1867.
The origin of the word “Canada” is shrouded in mystery. However, there’s a consensus that it stemmed from Kanata, meaning “a hamlet.” The natives used the word to refer to Jacques Cartier, a renowned French explorer. He is credited with using the term “Canada” to refer to the entire region. The word caught the fancy of mapmakers, who helped mainstream it.
A massive and agile economy has been one of Canada’s defining traits. With a 1.74 trillion dollar economy, an average income of $40,000, and an inflation rate of 2.3 percent, it’s one of the richest countries on the planet. Trade agreements between Canada and the United States in the 1980s helped boost the economy. While the service sector drives the Canadian economy, industries like real estate, mining, manufacturing, and energy continue to flourish. That translates to abundant employment and business opportunities for anyone heading to Canada for business and livelihood.
Canada is a melting pot of ethnicities, faiths, cultures, and nationalities. In addition to pluralism being a national policy, Canada has an assimilative culture rooted in tolerance, mutual respect, and shared goals. The crime rate in Canada is among the lowest in the world, and community policing keeps the country safe. Additionally, the laws protect the minorities’ rights, preserve their cultural identity, and encourage their participation in the workforce and legislature. Expatriates are welcomed with open arms, providing holistic immigration assistance to compensate for the lack of a workforce.
Democratizing free access to healthcare, Canada takes its citizens’ health too seriously. The federal government funds the provincial governments to administer the healthcare system. No matter how common or critical the condition, citizens are entitled to refunds on each penny, they spend on medical care. Comprehensive coverage for the aged population is also provided. Healthcare quality is also commendable, even better than in the USA if the Commonwealth Fund’s 2021 report is anything to go by. The social welfare programs and the adoption of yoga and other healthy practices also help Canadians stay healthy.
No other country spends as much on education as Canada. Young citizens are entitled to free primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. The system is public-funded and managed at the provincial level. Though certain aspects of the education system differ in different provinces, the quality is consistent across the board. Also, Canada is home to some of the world’s best colleges and universities, making it a global education hub.
Canada is blessed with abounding natural splendor. With an overwhelming majority of the population residing within 125 kilometers of the border with the USA, the vast expanses of land in the north are virtually uninhabited and untouched. Some stunning lakes, majestic mountains, floating icebergs, and pristine beaches make Canada a vacationer’s delight. The wildlife is also diverse, with polar bears, moose, whales, grey whales, orca, common loons, and over 462 bird species. The country has brought down the menace of air pollution remarkably well in the last decade to emerge as one of the cleanest countries.
Canada is indisputably one of the best countries. But it has its share of cons too.
- Some parts of the country can experience temperatures as low as -40F. It takes a lot of endurance to endure the long winters in the northern regions.
- The country covers an area of 9,984,670 square kilometers. To reach one city from another, you must traverse large distances. The wilderness and winding roads don’t help either.
- From food to gadgets, city dwellers must spend more on all the necessities of modern life. Taxes and import duties contribute to the high cost of living.
- In Canada, the real estate sector is booming, but properties are expensive to buy and rent. It is expected that prices will increase shortly due to an increase in population.
- While public healthcare is free, the waiting times for general ailments are too high. Thus, it is common for Canadians to seek economical and quick options elsewhere.
2. The Best Country in the World (Happiness): Finland
“Living here is a jackpot”
- CAPITAL: Helsinki
- REGION: North Europe, Scandinavia
- GDP PER CAPITA, PPP: USD 311 billion
- GDP (Nominal): USD 315 billion
- POPULATION: 5,557,383
- AREA: 338,145 SQ. KM
- LANGUAGES: Finnish, English & Swedish
- NATIONAL SPORT: Finnish Baseball
- CURRENCY: Euro
The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s World Happiness Report ranks Finland as the happiest country in the world for the fifth time in a row. The feat might sound like an exaggeration given Finland’s geographical isolation and harsh climate with prolonged winters.
However, faring well on all key parameters, it has outranked the likes of Denmark, Switzerland, and Iceland to emerge as the best country in the world on the happiness index. The local belief that “being born or raised in Finland is like claiming a jackpot” now resonates with the world.
Ancient & Medieval History:
Finland’s history dates back to 9,000 BC, as evidenced by fossil remains. However, documented historical records sprang up only in the 12th century with the emergence of the Catholic Church in the region. Save for some coastal regions, Finland fell under Swedish control in the 13th century in the wake of Swedish colonization. The status quo changed in 1809, with Russia gaining control of major Finnish territories.
What followed was the rise of the Finnish nationalist movement in the 19th century. With an emphasis on culture, traditions, literature, music, mythology, and all things indigenous, the movement manifested in Finland’s freedom in 1917. However, it wasn’t a smooth sail for the newly independent country either. It witnessed a bloody civil war soon after the declaration of independence, with the White Guards up in arms against the Red Guards.
The civil war subsided by the fall of 1918, with the White Guards emerging victorious. Even Finland couldn’t stay immune to the gravity of the Second World War. It not only fended off the Soviet invasion in the Winter War but also spearheaded the invasion of the Soviets in the Continuation War. However, the aggression backfired, as the Soviets gained control of some territories in the peace settlement. Thankfully, Finland’s sovereignty stayed intact.
With political stability came prosperity. Finland cashed in on the economic boom of the 70s to emerge as a major European economy, rivaling France, Germany, and other heavyweights. At the last count, Finland flaunted a GDP (nominal) of USD 315 billion, placing it 42nd. With a GDP PPP size of USD 311 billion, it ranks 57th. As far as GDP per capita is concerned, it stands at USD 56,833 (nominal) and USD 56,123 (PPP). The figures are mighty impressive for a country with meager resources and a population of a mere 5.5 million.
The Finnish economy combines a fine blend of state and private enterprises. In some sectors, you’ll come across government monopolies, though. The service sector is the strongest, making up over 69 percent of the economy. At 31.4 percent, the industry is the other major contributor, followed by mining. The economy is industrialized but agriculture is still a significant source of sustenance, accounting for 2.9 percent of the total economic output. Electronics is the leading industry, followed by engineered metal products.
Ranking second, Finland is close to its Scandinavian counterpart, Ireland, regarding high-tech manufacturing. Thanks to a sound education system, it’s also credited with being one of the world’s leading knowledge economies. The World Economic Forum placed Finland at the top position in three categories, including the state’s assistance in ICT. In terms of trade, the Finnish economy is deeply integrated into the global economy. Europe is its biggest trading partner, accounting for 60 percent of total trade.
The Finnish culture is composite, blending traditions from Europe, Russia, and the Nordic region. That can be attributed to Finland’s exposure to multiple foreign regimes throughout its history. The culture is built on shared values of mutual respect, moderation, egalitarianism, cooperation, multiculturalism, and collective growth. With the Finnish state providing social and financial security, the common folks lead a more relaxed and happier life than their European counterparts. Their resilience to adversity is simply remarkable.
The Finnish culture is an amalgamation of several subcultures, notably Sami, Romani, Jews, and Tatars. Sami, the Swedish-speaking ethnicity, is the largest of them all. While Sami profoundly affects Finnish culture, other ethnicities have retained their traditions remarkably well. However, with urbanization, assimilation, and inter-ethnic marriages, the cultural distinctions are blurring, giving rise to a homogenized culture. The religious fervor runs deep, with 72.8% of the population belonging to the Evangelism Lutheran Church.
Happy countries have low crime rates. And Finland isn’t an exception either. STASTISTA tells us that the homicide rate per 100,000 population is just 1.36 from 2010 to 2020. The country recorded 72 murder cases and 1.5K sexual assaults in the same period, making it one of the safest countries. With crime rates at their lowest ebb, even by Scandinavian standards, the ordinary folks feel safer in Finland than in any other European country.
Finland is blessed with abounding natural beauty, long stretches of lush forests, sandy beaches, pristine lakes, and much more. The diversity of flora and fauna is spellbinding as well. With low emissions and a sustainable lifestyle, Finland is a godsend for folks seeking a peaceful life in the lap of nature. The environment is one of the prime reasons for Finland’s topping the list of the world’s happiest countries. Your sightseeing options include Santa Claus Village, Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Savonlinna, and Sibelius Monument. A mesmerizing natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights shouldn’t skip your radar either.
As a Finn, you can expect universal, public-funded healthcare. The federal government funds the healthcare system, and the implementation is left to the local governments. However, private investments in the health sector are also there. Finland’s healthcare system has been largely a success story, helping eradicate multiple infectious diseases, increasing life expectancy, reducing infant mortality rates, and ensuring last-mile delivery of immunization and disease screening. Healthcare quality is also commendable, placing Finland among the world’s top five destination countries for healthcare services.
Finland allocates around 12 billion euros annually to education. When massive spending is coupled with innovative pedagogy methodology, the result is the world’s most developed education system, per the World Economic Forum. Don’t be surprised if Finland ranks among the world’s most educated and knowledge-based economies. The high school completion rates are also the best in the world. Some students are encouraged to pursue vocational training after 11 years of compulsory primary comprehensive school education.
- The winters are too lengthy and harsh, with the mercury plummeting to -50°C.
- The sunlight is too limited for your comfort.
- High taxation and other expenditures could raise your cost of living drastically.
- Low fertility rates and an aging population are significant threats to the economy.
- Despite a composite culture, Swedish-speaking minorities experience persecution.
- The official languages, Finnish and Swedish, aren’t learner-friendly for Immigrants.
- Alcoholism and depression are the norms in an otherwise healthy society.
3. The Best Country in the World (Least Corrupt): Denmark
“Zero tolerance to corruption”
- CAPITAL: Copenhagen
- REGION: North Europe (Scandinavia)
- GDP PER CAPITA, PPP: USD 390 billion
- GDP (Nominal): USD 414 billion
- POPULATION: 5,834,950 (Feb 2022)
- AREA: 43,094 SQ. KM
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Danish
- NATIONAL SPORT: Football
- CURRENCY: Danish Krone
- MEMBER: UNO, EU, NATO, Nordic Council of Ministers
Corruption is a stumbling block to the advancement of society. When those in a position of authority abuse power for personal gains, ordinary folks’ political, civil, and socio-economic rights and opportunities suffer. Even a country’s economy takes a hit as corruption compromises productivity and profits on investments for businesses. While corruption is a global phenomenon, certain countries have managed to keep it in check. Take, for instance, Denmark, the least corrupt country according to the Corruption Perceptions Index.
Corruption Perceptions Index:
Wondering what the corruption perceptions index is? Transparency International, for example, ranks countries on a scale of zero to 100 in terms of corruption. The lower the score, the higher the corruption levels are. This yearly publication, known as the Corruption Perception Index, or CPI, is the most trusted take on the corruption levels in a country. We factored in CPI to zero in on the best country in the world regarding corruption. While Denmark topped the list, New Zealand was a close second.
Denmark is not new to the CPI. It has consistently ranked among the least corrupt countries since the inception of CPI in 1995. Guess what? It has retained the pole position five times in a row, from 2017 to 2022. The remarkable feat can be linked to the culture of trust. The Danish culture promotes mutual trust and cooperation over competition. The country has set precedents for integrity in politics. Plus, the press and judiciary are free, and ordinary folks can easily access information regarding public spending.
While human civilization began to flourish in the region by 3900 BCE, urbanization began only in the eighth century. In 793, Denmark faced the onslaught of the barbaric Vikings, who integrated the region into a mighty empire featuring the territories of Norway, Greenland, Sweden, France, and the UK. Besides plundering, the Vikings even traded slaves. The ordeal ended after 250 years with the introduction of Christianity. However, peace was still far-fetched as Denmark and Sweden were involved in a brutal Nordic rivalry here.
In 1397, Denmark was ceded to Queen Margrethe I, who held sway over another mighty empire that also included Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. By 1523, the empire fell apart, with Sweden declaring its independence. What followed was a series of battles with Sweden. In particular, Denmark lost certain parts of its territories to Sweden in 1658, which resulted in an absolute monarchy. The policy initiatives in 1784 empowered peasants, but the most significant event unfolded in 1814 with the introduction of universal primary education.
Between 1848 and 1864, Denmark and Germany went to war twice. While Denmark emerged victorious in the first war, Germany came back strongly in the second one to defeat it and regain the lost territories. Though Denmark refrained from siding with any warring faction in the first world war, it regained control of Schleswig following a referendum in 1920. The Danish economy experienced an upsurge post-WW1, thanks to rapid industrialization, increased dairy production, and the adoption of livestock farming.
German belligerence dragged Denmark into WW2, which was otherwise neutral until 1940. The mighty Germans broke into the Danish defenses and occupied Denmark. The occupation ended in 1945 with the surrender of Germany. The economy gained traction upon Denmark’s liberation, evolving into a global economy with a significant export increase. With money flowing in, Denmark strengthened its position as a welfare state. Its efforts to eradicate poverty and promote human rights are simply commendable.
The Danish economy is a mixed, open economy with a GDP worth USD 414 billion nominal and USD 390 billion PPP. That puts it at 36th and 51st place, respectively. When it comes to GDP per capita, the rankings, however, drastically improve to 11th (nominal) and 20th (PPP) with figures of USD 70,769 and USD 66,904, respectively. The economy is well integrated with the global economy; exports and imports contribute to half of the country’s GDP.
The services sector is the most dominant, providing sustenance to over 80 percent of the total population. That’s followed by industry (14.4%), construction (7.7%), agriculture (1.6%), and mining (1.2%). For a while, equitable wealth distribution had been a redeeming feature of the Danish economy. However, the disparity has widened in recent years. To curb emission rates, Denmark aims to transform into a green economy by 2030.
Danish culture is built on trust, honesty, and equality. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, or faith, people have equal rights and opportunities in all spheres of life, from education to healthcare. The traditions have a profound bearing on Danish culture. They are evident everywhere, from folklore and legends to music, dance, and shared beliefs. The Danes are well-educated, liberal, and assimilative people who appreciate family values. Also, Denmark has a vibrant intellectual legacy with the likes of Tycho Brahe, Niels Bohr, Ludwig A. Colding, and Lene Vestergaard Hau, among others.
Denmark has a robust healthcare system funded by the federal government. The provincial governments and municipalities together manage healthcare service delivery. Allocating over 10 percent of its total budget to healthcare, Denmark is one of the highest spenders on healthcare by percentage. With public-funded healthcare, the common folks have free access to healthcare services. Whatever little cost the patient has to bear is covered by insurance. Denmark is the frontrunner in integrating technology into healthcare. Wonder why it has reduced heart disease mortality and increased life expectancy from 77 to 81 years?
From the Church-run monastery schools in the Middle Ages to modern-day Folkeskoles, the Danish education system has come of age. Standing for people’s schools, Folkeskoles offers free education at preschool, primary, and lower secondary levels to age groups 5 to 16. A large chunk of students (82%) receive higher education after completing secondary schooling. Private schools also educate 15.6% of all at the primary level. Higher education is catered to by various business, engineering, medical, and law schools and universities. Focusing on academic excellence and innovative teaching methods makes Denmark a higher education hub. As a side note, Denmark has nearly 100% literacy.
- Typical of Scandinavia, the weather is harsh, with low temperatures
- Like in any high-income country, the cost of living is higher in Denmark as well
- Despite low crime rates, the legal system can be complicated to navigate through
- Society is mainly tolerant, but casual racism is profound in some parts
- Expatriates need to learn Danish to overcome language barriers
- Ordinary folks are given to excessive alcohol consumption
4. The Best Country in the World (Gender Equality): Norway
- CAPITAL: Oslo
- REGION: North Europe (Scandinavia)
- GDP PER CAPITA, PPP: 423 billion USD
- GDP (Nominal): 541 billion USD
- POPULATION: 5,367,580 (Feb 2022)
- AREA: 43,094 SQ. KM
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Norwegian, Sami
- NATIONAL SPORT: Cross-country skiing
- CURRENCY: Norwegian Krone
- MEMBER: UNO, EU, NATO, Nordic Council of Ministers
Norway has bridged the gender gap more effectively than any other country. With gender equality deeply entrenched in the social, economic, and political fabric, this tiny Scandinavian country supersedes everyone on all key parameters of gender fairness. The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act guarantees Norwegian women equal opportunities in the workplace. That creates gender equality and a largely discrimination-free culture.
A Discrimination-free Culture:
Norwegian women lead the way when it comes to representation in parliamentary politics. The current parliament features over 41 percent of elected female representatives, with eight female ministers, including the Prime Minister (Erna Solberg) and Foreign Minister. All four of the political parties’ heads are females. Note that Norway was among the first countries to grant the adult franchise to women in 1913.
With accommodative maternity leave policies, Norway is the best country in the world for pregnant women. Every Norwegian female has free and easy access to all pregnancy-related treatments and services. The laws mandate employers to have separate breastfeeding rooms and play areas and to provide flexible work hours, work-from-home facilities, and leas for both parents. Parents can also expect generous child benefits.
Norway passed legislation in 2003 to mandate 40% representation of women on corporate boards. Employers are responsible for taking action on reported gender discrimination cases in workplaces to make life easier for the female workforce. With low women-related crime rates, the females’ perception of community security is high. Unsurprisingly, Norway edged out the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden to be the world’s most women-friendly country.
Modern-day Norway was inhabited since 12000 BC, but civilization flourished only in the iron age, as evidenced by archaeological digs. However, the most significant part of ancient Norwegian history unfolded with the emergence of the Vikings in the 8th century. These wax-wielding barbarians not only consolidated the entire Nordic region politically but also built intricate social institutions and established trade ties with the rest of Europe.
Christianity existed since the advent of the Viking age but gained mainstream acceptance only when Olav Haraldsson burst onto the scene. He was responsible for passing church laws and demolishing pagan places of worship. The Norwegian brand of Christianity initially featured imprints of Norse culture. By 1130, the region was subjected to a bloody civil war due to succession issues. It took Hakon Hkonsson to formulate succession laws in 1217. That ushered in peace and, subsequently, the golden age of Norway.
Medieval & Modern History:
The era of prosperity, from the 13th to the 14th century, was marked by international trade with almost the entirety of Europe. The outbreak of bubonic plague drew curtains on the golden era. The pandemic took a heavy toll on the population and led to political turmoil. By 1380, Norway and Denmark had formed a single political unit. And, in 1397, Sweden also jumped in. However, the union was an artificial construct bound to fall apart.
While Sweden withdrew in the 1520s, the Norway-Denmark nation continued to exist till the late 16th century. In the next century, Norway went to war with its Nordic neighbor, Sweden, causing socio-political instability and a loss of lives. Norway was an ally of France, backing its war efforts during the Napoleonic era. The nationalist movement gained traction later, leading to the creation and implementation of a constitution in 1814.
The Norwegian economy is thriving, with the GDP nominal at USD 541 billion and the GDP PPP at USD 423 billion. The economy shrank in 2020 in the wake of the pandemic outbreak but has revived lately, showing 2.9 percent growth. It ranks sixth on the GDP per capita nominal criterion in 2022, with figures of USD 99,481. At 2.4 percent, inflation is one of the lowest in the world. The services sector is the biggest contributor, accounting for 63.5 percent of the GDP. That’s followed by industry (34.7%) and agriculture (1.6%). Norway has been drilling for oil in the North Sea since the 1970s and is a major oil exporter. The welfare system strongly aligns with the economy, giving it the much-needed human touch.
The sense of history and cultural pride runs deep in Norwegian culture. Common sightings of everyday folks donning traditional attire (bunad) on special occasions are common. The values of tolerance, equality, and freedom are deeply embedded in the culture, making it one of the most liberal societies in the world.
However, most Norwegian and Sami people have often been at loggerheads. An overwhelming majority speak Norwegian, a Germanic language much like Swedish, Danish and other Nordic languages. On the law and order front too, Norway has done remarkably well. The rates nosedived by 11 percent in 2018, ranking it among the world’s safest countries.
The Norwegian government prioritized healthcare in the post-WW2 era to create a welfare state. Gradually, it established a sound, constantly evolving healthcare system that rivals the best in the world. Healthcare is easily accessible but not free. However, with the state heavily subsidizing healthcare, the common folks receive treatments at a minimal cost.
If a person’s spending on healthcare services exceeds 2460 NOK ( 264 USD), he/she is exempt from paying medical charges for the rest of the calendar year. Also, tax benefits are available for patients with long-term conditions or high health expenses. Each year, Norway spends USD 7,727 on each citizen’s health, among the highest in the world.
The Norwegian education system has three sequential steps: elementary school, lower secondary school, and upper secondary school. Up to lower secondary education is both a right and an obligation for Norwegian kids. Admission to higher education is subject to an entrance test, while vocational programs are available after lower secondary.
The entire system is publicly funded, making education affordable for all. Norway spends 6.6 percent of its GDP on education, which is one of the world’s highest. Higher education is more inclined to research, and the medium of instruction is Norwegian across the board.
- The language barriers exist as an expatriate needs to learn Norwegian
- The immigration policies are too complicated to deal with
- It is one of the most expensive countries to live in as of 2022
- The cold and rainy climate might test your endurance levels
- Finding work for an expatriate can be a daunting task
5. The Best Country in the World (Emerging): India
- CAPITAL: New Delhi
- REGION: South Asia
- GDP PER CAPITA, PPP: USD 10 trillion
- GDP (Nominal): USD 3.1 trillion
- POPULATION: 1.4 billion (Feb 2022)
- AREA: 3.287 million SQ. KM
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Hindi, English
- NATIONAL SPORT: Hockey
- CURRENCY: INR (Indian Rupee)
- MEMBER: UNO, QUAD, BRICS
Surprised to see India listed among the top nations in the world? After all, it is regarded as a third-world nation with a sizable population living in poverty and lack of toilets, clean water, healthcare, education, and other necessities. Visitors complaining about overpopulation, widespread crime, pollution, and whatnot are commonplace. India’s shortcomings are too obvious when put into numbers.
|Global Peace Index||139/163||Visionhumanity.org|
|World Happiness Report||136/156||UN-SDSN|
|Life expectancy||125 / 195||Human Development Index|
|Infant Mortality||113 / 223||CIA|
|Global Hunger Index||94/107||International Food Policy Research Institute|
|Suicide rate||19 / 176||World Health Organization|
|Health Expenditure per capita (PPP)||141 / 190||World Health Organization|
|Human Capital Index||115 / 152||World Bank|
|Human capital||103 / 130||WEF – The Global Human capital Report|
|Education Index||145 / 191||United Nations|
|Per Capita GDP (nominal)||145 / 189||World Bank|
However, there’s a problem with the stats. They usually reveal less and hide more. Mind you, India is a country in name but a continent in scale. It’s the seventh-largest country by area and home to the world’s second-largest population, all major religions and ethnicities, and umpteen variations in culture, architecture, topography, languages, dialects, and climatic conditions. A few stats cannot sum up the essence of an incredibly ethno-linguistically diverse country that’s all set to take the world by storm.
The Other Side:
There’s another side of India that the world has noticed lately. It is shaking off the tag of a third-world country to emerge as a significant player in geopolitics, economics, military, space, sports, and every other domain conceivable. Even though India’s emergence as a first-world country shortly is far-fetched, you cannot simply escape the gravity of its glorious past, incredible culture, and promising future. Another set of stats illustrates a country that stands against all odds to evolve and grow.
|Population||02 / 235 (1.40 as of Jan 2022)||Worldometer|
|Nominal GDP||06 / 185 (US $3.1 trillion)||World Bank|
|GDP (PPP)||03 / 189 (US$10.6 trillion)||World Bank|
|GDP growth rate||01/ 132 (2021-22 – 8.5%)||World Bank|
|Foreign-Exchange reserves||05/ 193 (About 700 billion USD)||World Bank|
|English-speaking population||02 / 133||Census of India|
|GNI PPP||03 / 15 (Worth USD 8,594,226,000,000) in 2016||World Bank|
|GNI nominal||09 / 15 (worth USD 2,027,964,000,000) in 2016||World Bank|
|Global Innovation Index||48 / 131||World Intellectual Property Organization|
|Space Competitiveness Index||06 / 15 (2013)||Futron Corporation|
|IT industry competitiveness index||18 / 66||BSA Global Index|
|Electricity production||3 / 209||TOI|
|Film productions||1 / 15||UNESCO|
India may not be the greatest country in the world, but it already has immense potential. Despite some disagreement, we put India in a separate category – “the best-emerging country in the world.” Let’s explore why.
India’s past is as enigmatic as it gets since the lines between mythology and actual history are often blurred. What little we know is a tell-tale sign of a highly evolved nation. Even by conservative estimates, India’s contribution to the world’s GDP was 35 percent back in the classic era.
It cradled the first and most evolved civilization of its time, the Indus Valley Civilization. The country’s contributions to the arts, architecture, medicine, science, philosophy, mathematics, innovation, literature, food and other domains are awe-inspiring.
Indians invented zero, the decimal system, the place value system, and Fibonacci patterns. Even algebra, trigonometry, and calculus owe their origins to India. Takshila, the world’s first university, stood tall as early as 700 BC in North India. Indians computed the time it takes for Earth to finish one orbit around the sun.
The earliest school of medicine, Ayurveda, is also India’s gift to the world. It invented cataract surgery, leprosy cures, and, of course, yoga and meditation. Chess, snakes, and ladders also originated in India. The Indians taught the world how to mine diamonds and cultivate jute. The country is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
Archaeological digs trace India’s history back to 3300 BCE when the world’s first and most highly evolved civilization flourished in northwest India. The Bronze Age civilization sprang up on the banks of the river Indus; hence, the name, Indus Valley Civilization. The urban planning, granaries, public baths, knowledge of metallurgy, pottery, and handicrafts, and elaborate water supply and drainage systems make IVC stand out. Why it perished (or did it?) is disputed, but historians attribute it to the Aryan invasion around 1300 BCE.
From the remains of the Indus Valley civilization emerged the Vedic period, lasting from 1500 BC to 600 BC. What little we know about this civilization is attributed to four holy scriptures: the Rig Veda, Saam Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda. These liturgical texts elaborate on the era’s life, politics, and economics. From the Mauryas to the Guptas, India saw the rise and fall of some of the most significant empires in human history. However, none ruled over all of India because the Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas ruled the south.
Medieval & Modern History
Medieval history was characterized by Muslim invasions that culminated in the Mughal Empire. Some iconic buildings, including the Taj Mahal and Red Fort, were built in this era. Looking for markets to colonize and souls to convert, European imperialist powers burst onto the stage in the 18th century. After several battles and treaties, Britain colonized an overwhelming chunk of India. The imperialistic rule ended in 1947, leaving India, the wealthiest country before colonization, in poverty and chaos.
Indian culture is a potpourri of many subcultures, each with distinct social norms, traditions, values, belief systems, music, dance, architecture, and food. The country is vast and ethno-linguistically diverse enough to treat you to an entirely new subculture within a few miles. Guess what? As a result of trade and immigration, the imprints of Indian culture are visible beyond the subcontinent, even as far as Indonesia and Thailand.
Think of Indian culture as a perfect mix of modernity and tradition. While traditions run deep in thoughts and actions, the everyday Indian isn’t opposed to modernity. Traditionally, Indian society has been tolerant, but things are deteriorating with fundamentalism on the rise. Hinduism remains the largest religion, constituting 78.9 percent of the total population. It’s followed by Islam (14.20%), Christianity (2.3%), and Sikhism (1.7%).
The Indian economy is a mixed, middle-income economy with great potential. In terms of PPP, the GDP is USD 10.6 trillion, the third highest in the world. Likewise, with a nominal GDP of USD 3.1 trillion, it’s ranked sixth. However, given a staggering population of 1.4 billion and growing, the per capita income is low, at 1850 USD. However, with 83 billion dollars in FDI, the country’s economic growth is the highest in the world, at more than 10% as of January 2022.
The Indian economy was the greatest in the world for over millennia but went into a downward spiral in the wake of British colonial rule. The economy grew at a snail’s pace after independence in 1947. The epoch-making moment for the Indian economy arrived in 1992 with economic liberalization. When protectionist economic policies gave way to liberalized policies, the Indian economy grew phenomenally. Come 2050, it could be the world’s second-largest economy, surpassing the US and just behind China.
The Idea of India:
The idea of India surfaces in the following three quotes from some of the most eminent people in human history.
“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” -Albert Einstein.
“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the grandmother of tradition.” -Mark Twain”
“If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problem of life, and has found a solution. I should point to India. ” –Max Mueller
6. The Most Eco-Friendly Country: Bhutan
“Happiness is a way of life”
- CAPITAL: Thimphu
- REGION: South Asia
- POPULATION: 7.72 lakhs (Jan 2021)
- AREA: 38,394 SQ. KM
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Dzongkha
- CURRENCY: Ngultrum
- NATIONAL SPORT: Archery and Digor
What is a low-income, meager-resourced country like Bhutan doing in a list dominated by the first world? Even if its status as the world’s happiest country is disputed, it takes a fresh approach to sustainable development with a focus on happiness rather than wealth creation. In that sense, it’s the best country in the world.
Bhutan, tucked in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, is spread across 38,394 square kilometers without access to territorial waters. The Bhutanese territory has receded constantly since the 17th century, thanks to battles and treaties with the British East India Company. A chunk of territory was ceded to British India following the treaty of Punakha.
Little can be authentically said about the prehistory of Bhutan. It’s entirely undocumented and unexplored. Documented history is available only after the 7th century AD, when Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) set foot on this unexplored territory. His arrival marked the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan, which has flourished ever since. In 1865, Bhutan ceded a part of its bordering territory to the British in lieu of an annual subsidy. Self-rule returned to Bhutan in 1907 when the British established a monarchy here.
A few years later, Britain decided to leave internal affairs to the discretion of the local government but stayed in control of its foreign affairs. In the aftermath of independence, India took on the responsibility for Bhutan’s foreign affairs, economic development, and defense in lieu of yearly subsidies. These responsibilities are defined in the Indo-Bhutanese accord of 1949. To this day, Bhutan remains a kingship, with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck being the current ruler who succeeded his father, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 2006.
GNP: Gross National Happiness
Bhutan keeps the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index over the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure its success. The Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research calculates the GNH index once every five years by quizzing around 8,000 random households. The 300 questions cover 33 parameters clubbed under 9 domains and multiple variables. The domains include
- Overall health
- Psychological well-being
- Living standards
- Time usage
The answers are analyzed via the Alkire-Foster approach, where they factor in all forms of capital. The inferences of this multidimensional approach are the cornerstone of policy-making, making it a significant undertaking. As a side note, GNH was introduced in the late 1970s by the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Bhutan’s rapid socio-economic progress in recent years can be directly attributed to the GNH index. Bhutan is enjoying 7.5 percent GDP growth and a 36 percent reduction in poverty levels. Even bigger economies are mimicking the GNH index to power their growth.
Predominantly rural, Bhutan’s economy is among the least developed ones. As of now, its GDP (nominal) is USD 3,491, placing it 153rd on the list of economies in the world. With USD2,653 million in Gross Domestic Product, Bhutan’s ranking plummets to 178. Aligning its economy with India, Bhutan’s economic growth has been on the up lately. It has adopted the concept of Five Year Plans for planned and holistic economic development.
Agriculture and forestry provide means of sustenance to 60 percent population. The harsh climate, poor soil and hilly terrain render a huge chunk of the available land inappropriate for farming. Thanks to traditional practices and subsistence farming, the agricultural output is low. While the inhospitable terrain prevents infrastructure development, the tourism and energy sectors are on the up and will contribute to Bhutan’s economy in the future.
Bhutan proclaims itself as a Buddhist kingdom. With a majority population following the Tibetan form of Mahayana Buddhism, the Tibetan-style monasteries dot the entire country. The defensive fortresses scattered all across represent the architectural prowess of ancient Bhutan. The population is dominated by Bhutia, Nepalese, and Sharchop ethnicities, each with a distinct culture and lifestyle. The society has been protective of its traditions and culture, which helped Bhutan retain its rich heritage despite the onslaught of modernity.
Representing class and status, the national dress is a part of the life of the local populace. Women can be seen flaunting ankle-length flowing robes while men don knee-length ones with belts integral to both. The society is feudal, with the king at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the clergy and government officials. Ordinary folks are expected to maintain decency in clothing and speech when interacting with those higher in the hierarchy. Interestingly, polygamy is practiced, and inheritance goes to the females. Religion and religious festivities are central to the life of ordinary folks.
Bhutan takes the health of its citizens seriously. The Minister of Health ensures economic and universal healthcare for each citizen. Surprisingly, the country has achieved over 85 percent of its healthcare goals, which is commendable for a country with a low-income level. However, the right to reproductive health is below par. Also, smoking is banned in Bhutan. With effective tobacco control measures, Bhutan is heading towards a tobacco-free society. The liquor is heavily taxed, leading to a drop in sales. That is taking a huge burden off the health budget. Immunization is a success story covering 90% of the population.
So that was Dunia Ka Gyan’s take on the best country in the world. Since “best” can sometimes be subjective, we cherry-picked the best in categories, including culture, happiness, least corrupt, gender equality, emerging economy, and eco-friendliness. It was an ordeal with 190+ countries to choose from, but we pulled it off while staying rational, unbiased, and accurate to the cause.
Mind you; a country is more than just a self-governed physical territory. It’s instead a universe in itself—home to people, cultures, traditions, and much more. So, if your country doesn’t find a mention in the list, don’t worry. It might excel in some other category.
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1. What criteria are used to determine the best country in the world?
Determining the best country in the world involves considering a wide range of criteria, such as economic stability, healthcare quality, education systems, political stability, cultural richness, environmental sustainability, and overall quality of life for its citizens. Additionally, factors like income equality, human rights, and social progress are also taken into account to create a comprehensive evaluation.
2. Which country is currently ranked as the best in the world?
The ranking of the best country in the world can vary depending on the source and the criteria used for evaluation. Organizations like the United Nations, World Economic Forum, and various research institutions conduct assessments, but the rankings often change over time. As of the latest available data, countries like Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and New Zealand consistently appear among the top contenders.
3. Is the best country solely determined by economic factors?
No, economic factors cannot solely determine the best country. While a strong and stable economy is crucial, it is just one aspect of the overall evaluation. A comprehensive assessment also considers social factors, healthcare, education, political stability, environmental policies, and cultural achievements to determine a country’s overall standing.
4. Can a country’s ranking change over time?
Yes, a country’s ranking can change over time due to various factors such as political developments, economic fluctuations, social progress, and changes in policies. Countries that focus on improving their citizens’ well-being and addressing challenges are likely to see their rankings improve in global evaluations.
5. What role does citizen happiness play in determining the best country?
Citizen satisfaction and happiness are essential factors in evaluating the best country. Nations with high levels of citizen satisfaction often prioritize their well-being, safety, and overall happiness. Happiness indices, like the World Happiness Report, take into account factors such as social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption levels to assess a country’s overall happiness and contentment of its population.