The 2106 Rio Summer Olympics are set to start on August 5th and the competition between the countries of the world is heating up. But as far as the US News Best Countries report is concerned, the medals have already divvied out to the winners. And while some countries boasted more global power than others, the quality of life rankings proved a great qualifier for the best overall.
While the US fell near the bottom of this list, our neighbor to the north, Canada, boasted the best quality of life in the entire world for their welcoming traditions, their cultural diversity and their incredible commitment to social good. The report stated that countries were judged on their quality of life by whether or not they were “economically stable, family friendly, financially equal, politically stable, safe, well-educated, and possessing a well-developed public health system.”
Check out the rest of the list below to find out where your next international home should be located.
- Canada – Canada’s expansive wilderness to the north plays a large role in Canadian identity, as does the country’s reputation of welcoming immigrants. Canadians pride themselves in encouraging all of their citizens to honor their own cultures. In 1971, Canada adopted a national policy of multiculturalism, which celebrates the country’s diversity. Canada is a high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living, as is evident from their first place ranking. Photo: Flickr / Samuel Auguste
- Sweden – Sweden operates under a model similar to those of other Nordic nations: heavily capitalistic with a large percent of spending going toward public service. Once well above the global average, tax rates have decreased, and an advanced infrastructure and transportation network assist with equal wealth distribution. Health care, as well as a college education, are free, and its people boast one of the longest life expectancies in the world. Almost all of Sweden’s trash is recycled.
- Denmark – Denmark’s economy is based on the flexicurity model, which combines a flexible labor market with a policy for the unemployed. This flexicurity model allows for business to establish inexpensively and quickly, as there is scarce government oversight regarding matters such as terminations or work hours. Through redistributionist and progressive taxation, Denmark employs a universal health care system in which citizens receive mostly free medical care. Higher education is also free.
- Australia – The nation has a high rate of participation in sporting activities and boasts a comparatively high life expectancy for both females and males. Its major cities routinely score well in global livability surveys.
- The Netherlands – The people of the Netherlands have formed a tolerant society. In 2001, the country became the first to legalize same-sex marriage, and national stances on drugs, prostitution, euthanasia and abortion are liberal. Holland also boasts the highest concentration of museums in the world. More than 1,000 bridges and 20,000 miles of bike paths connect the densely populated nation, with most citizens concentrated in a grouping of cities along the coast, known as the Randstad.
- New Zealand – The vast majority of its 4.5 million people are concentrated in the north island, with nearly one-third living in Auckland. But low density and scattered populations make for peaceful exploration of the nation’s impressive mountains and pristine beaches of “Lord of the Rings” trilogy movie fame. Per capita income remains high and, at 7.4 percent, education expenditures as a percent of gross domestic product are some of the highest in the world.
- Germany – Germany possesses one of the largest economies in the world and has seen its role in the international community grow steadily since reunification. Germany employs a social market economy – open-market capitalism that also carries certain social service guarantees. Germany also possesses a highly skilled, affluent workforce and has produced some of the world’s leading figures in the natural and social sciences, as well as the arts.
- Austria – Austria boasts one of the highest standards of living among the economies of the world, ranking highly in per capita gross domestic product. Its economy is tied closely to Germany, its main trading partner. The nation’s top economic sectors are services, industry and agriculture. Austria is a major tourist destination, helped largely by the Alps mountain range to the west and south.
- United Kingdom – The U.K. is a highly developed nation that exerts considerable economic, political, scientific and cultural influence internationally. The capital city, London, is a major international financial center and one of the most visited cities in the world. The banking and tourism industries are parts of a larger service sector that powers much of the nation’s economic growth. In addition, the United Kingdom is home to some of the top universities in the world, including Oxford, Cambridge and the Imperial College of London
- Luxembourg – Luxembourg is the wealthiest country in the European Union, per capita, and its citizens enjoy a high standard of living. Luxembourg is a major center for large private banking, and its finance sector is the biggest contributor to its economy. About 45 percent of the country’s roughly 56,000 people were born outside the country and consist primarily of Portuguese, French, Italians, Belgians and Germans.
- Japan – 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. Japan is known worldwide for its traditional arts, including tea ceremonies, calligraphy and flower arranging. The country has a legacy of distinctive gardens, sculpture and poetry.
- Ireland – Nicknamed the Emerald Isle for its well-watered grasslands, the country is known for its rich cultural traditions, lively pub scene and its struggles for independence. Long considered a traditional, even conservative society, Ireland’s social norms are evolving, causing clashes between younger generations and the Roman Catholic Church. In 2015, Ireland became the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote.
- France – 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. It was one of the first nations to champion the rights of the individual. French citizens look to the federal government to guarantee certain social services, such as education, health care and pensions for retirement.
- United States – The U.S. is culturally and racially diverse, and was shaped by large waves of immigration from Europe and beyond. American literature, art and music reflect the rich heritage of the county’s people. The country is home to some of the top universities in the world, including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Despite being the foremost global power, the U.S. still faces domestic challenges, including racial tensions, income inequality and an increasingly polarized electorate. While national security is a concern, so too, is the debt incurred from wars meant to ensure it. The U.S. leads the developed world in deaths due to firearms.
- Singapore – Singapore has seen impressive growth in recent years as efficient manufacturing and production practices have made way for free-market innovation in the booming electronics and pharmaceutical industries. Gross domestic product per capita is high and unemployment is low, making Singapore one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Singapore is densely populated, with most citizens living in urban high-rises. The Singaporean government has forecasted exponential population growth in the coming decades, with immigrants expected to account for more than half of the population by 2030.