The 28 happiest, richest, most advanced, and healthiest countries in the world

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The Legatum Institute released its 11th annual global Prosperity Index, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous countries in the world.

The amount of money a country has is one factor of prosperity, but the Legatum Institute considers much more than that in its ranking.

The organisation compared 104 variables to come up with its list. These variables include traditional indicators like per-capita gross domestic product and the number of people in full-time work, but also more interesting figures such as the number of secure internet servers a country has, and how well-rested people feel on a day-to-day basis.

The variables are then split into nine subindexes: economic quality, business environment, governance, personal freedom, social capital, safety and security, education, health, and natural environment.

The index looked at the 149 countries in the world that have the most available data. After seven years of Norway topping the rankings, it was dethroned in 2016 by New Zealand. Can Norway take the top spot back in 2017?

Find out the results below.

28. Uruguay — Uruguay scored solidly across all of the Legatum Institute’s categories, but excelled in the personal freedom sub-index, ranking 7th of all countries surveyed.

Getty Images/Mario Tama

27. Estonia — Despite being known as one of the world’s most digitally savvy nations, Estonia’s top individual sub-index score was in natural environment, where it was 7th overall.

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26. Czech Republic — Although the Czech Republic, now officially called Czechia, didn’t excel in any sub-index, it did finish in the top 30 in six of nine categories.

25. Portugal — Portugal ranked inside the top 50 countries globally in all but one sub-index, but scored highest in personal freedom, where it was 10th overall.

Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

24. Hong Kong — Although Hong Kong’s status as an independent country is not recognised by the United Nations, it still features on the Prosperity Index, and does pretty well. Hong Kong has the 3rd best business environment anywhere on earth.

23. Japan — Japan may have battled economic stagnation for several years, but it is still one of the world’s most prosperous nations, ranking 4th for safety and security and for health.

22. Malta — The small island nation in the Mediterranean was in the top 25 in five areas, but did best when it comes to social capital and safety and security, finishing 7th in both categories.

21. Slovenia — Slovenia falls one place from its 2016 ranking, pushed down by the fact that it no longer has the world’s best natural environment. Having topped that sub-index in 2016, it falls to 2nd in 2017.

20. Spain — Political troubles, especially those around Catalan independence, have cast a shadow over Spain in the past few years, but it remains a hugely prosperous nation in global terms. Its lowest sub-index ranking was 37th in economic quality.

19. France — With a new president in Emmanuel Macron, France looks set to undergo significant reforms to its economy. The nation scored strongly across the board, but performed best in the natural environment sub-index, finishing 4th.

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18. United States — Given that it is nicknamed the land of opportunity and is home to many of the world’s most successful brands and businesses, it is unsurprising that the USA ranked top of the Prosperity Index’s business environment category.

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17. Singapore — Famous for its status as the world’s pre-eminent port and as a financial hub, Singapore is also a pretty good place to live, racking up 2nd place for health and economic quality, and 1st for safety and security, in this year’s Prosperity Index.

Unsplash/Annie Spratt

16. Belgium — Unmoved since 2016, the seat of the European Union is one of the world’s most prosperous nations, ranking 9th in the education sub-index, and 11th in both personal freedom and health.

15. Austria — The small central European nation picks up its best sub-index score for health, finishing 5th. It also ranked 6th in the safety and security category.

Flickr/Roderick Eime

14. Luxembourg — Despite falling two places from 2016, the home of EU chief Jean Claude Juncker maintained its status as having the best health score of any nation on earth in this year’s Prosperity Index.

Barbara Tasch

13. Iceland — Isolated from Europe and with a population of just over 300,000, Iceland might not seem like an obvious choice for one of the world’s most prosperous nations, but — like last year — it ranks in the top five of three sub indexes — safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.


12. Ireland — Finishing 10th or higher in four categories, Ireland’s highest rank was in personal freedom, where it ended 5th.


11. Germany — Europe’s economic powerhouse didn’t excel in any individual category, but finished no lower than 17th in any sub-index. It’s best score was in economic quality, where it was 9th.

10. United Kingdom — Brexit has had no discernible impact on the UK’s prosperity so far, with the country unmoved from last year’s overall rank. Britain’s best individual sub-index score was in business environment, where it was 5th.

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9. Australia — Famous for its laid-back lifestyle and good weather, it is no wonder Australia came first overall in the social capital sub-index. Despite that ranking, it fell from 6th overall in 2016, to 9th this year.

8. Canada — Falling three places from last year’s fifth, Canada still ranked highly in most categories, with 2nd in personal freedom its top individual score.

7. Denmark — The lowest ranked of the Scandinavian nations, Denmark’s highest sub-index score was 4th in the social capital category.

Marko Djurica

6. Netherlands — Rising one place from 2016, the small European state ended in the top ten in all but two sub-indexes. It’s overall ranking was impacted by finishing 46th in the natural environment category.

5. Sweden — Sweden climbs three places from 2016’s index, ending 2017’s Prosperity Index with the number one ranking for economic quality. as well as finishing in the top 10 in three other categories.

Michael Campanella/Getty Images

4. Switzerland — Switzerland frequently features at the top of lists like the Prosperity Index, thanks to fantastic education (1st overall), and great healthcare. It was 3rd in the health sub-index.

3. Finland — Finns may not class themselves as Scandinavian, but they can’t deny being a seriously prosperous northern European state. Finland has the best governance in the world for another year, according to the Legatum Institute.

2. New Zealand — Last year’s most prosperous nation is unseated in 2017, despite finishing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in five out of nine categories. It topped the pile for personal freedom, but was dragged down by finishing 23rd in the safety and security sub-index.


1. Norway — After a year away from the top spot, Norway is back at number one, ending in the top eight in every single sub-index. The oil-rich Scandinavian state had the best natural environment in the world, the second best governance, and the third best safety and security.

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