The 31 happiest, richest, healthiest, and safest countries in the world

Busan South Korea buildingsWikimedia CommonsBusan, South Korea. South Korea ranked 28th in the index.

Every year, the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, releases its 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 more than that in its ranking.

The organisation compares 89 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 as well as 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 eight subindexes: economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.

The index looked at the 142 countries that have the most available data. Here are the top-performing nations.

31. Estonia — The northern European nation is known for being one of the world's most tech savvy places, and it scored well in the entrepreneurship and opportunity subindex as a result, coming in 26th.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

30. United Arab Emirates — The only Middle Eastern nation in the top 31 countries, the UAE was helped by finishing 21st in the economy subindex. That's not too big a surprise given the vast wealth on show in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Joerg Mitter /Red Bull via Getty Images

29. Poland — Poland scored solidly across the board but did best in the safety and security, and personal freedom categories. People living in Poland are the 26th safest and 29th freest people on earth.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

28. South Korea — One of Asia's three true economic powerhouses, along with China and Japan, South Korea's position in the Prosperity Index is cemented thanks to finishing 17th in the economy subindex.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

27. Portugal — Portugal may have had its economic troubles in recent years, but it is still very prosperous in the grand scheme of things. The southern European state ranked in the top 20 for both personal freedom, and safety and security.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

26. Czech Republic -- The nation in Central Europe has jumped three places this year. In the economy subindex it was rated very highly -- 13th -- but it performed badly in the index's social-capital ranking.

The Charles Bridge in Prague.

25. Slovenia -- As with the Czech Republic, education in Slovenia scored very highly. Finishing 58th out of 142 in the economy index, however, meant Slovenia fell one place this year.

Lake Bled.

24. Spain — The most popular holiday destination for Brits scored well across the board, but top scores for education and personal freedom pushed Spain into the top 25.

David Ramos/Getty Images

23. Malta -- Even though Malta's education system ranked 42nd, strong scores in all other subindexes mean Malta kept the same position as last year in the Prosperity Index.

Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images

22. France — France has fallen one place in this year's ranking. Its health score was eighth overall, but a low social-capital score pushed it outside the top 20 for the third time in four years.


21. Taiwan — The island nation is just outside the top 20 after being given a big boost by a strong performance in safety and security, where it ranked sixth.

Ashley Pon/Getty Images

20. Hong Kong -- People in Hong Kong can enjoy being top of the pile when it comes to safety and security and in the top 10 for entrepreneurship and opportunity.

Palani Mohan/Getty Images

19. Japan -- Citizens in Japan are the seventh-healthiest on earth, according to the Prosperity Index, but the country is 33rd in terms of personal freedom, lowering its overall ranking.

hris McGrath/Getty Images

18. Belgium -- Ranked inside the top 25 in every subindex, Belgium scored best on health (10th). Despite that, it fell by one place in the Prosperity Index this year.

Mark Renders/Getty Images

17. Singapore -- Singapore swapped places with Belgium in this year's Index and was helped by finishing first in the economy subindex.

Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

16. Austria -- Finishing inside the top 10 in two categories -- health, and entrepreneurship and opportunity -- wasn't enough to stop Austria from sliding one place this year.

Bwag/WikiMedia Commons
The Sonnschienhütte in the Austrian Alps.

15. United Kingdom -- Britain fell two places this year, in part by finishing outside the top 20 in the education and safety indexes.

14. Germany -- According to the Prosperity Index, Germany has the fifth-best economy in the world, helping it stay 14th for the fourth year running.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Men in traditional Bavarian clothing at the 2014 Oktoberfest at Theresienhoehe in Munich.

13. Luxembourg — Citizens enjoy high levels of personal freedom and health, as well as strong governance and a good economy, helping it rise from 16th in 2014.

Getty/Sean Gallup

12. Iceland -- The north Atlantic nation finished in the top five in three subindexes: personal freedom, safety and security, and entrepreneurship and opportunity. This wasn't enough to stop it from falling one place from the 2014 index.

Facebook/Inspired by Iceland
A tourist looks over from Landmannalaugar to Þorsmörk in southwest Iceland.

11. United States -- The world's most powerful country scored higher than any other in the Legatum Institute's health category, but its citizens are among the least safe and secure on this list. The US was 33rd in this subindex.

Mount Rushmore seen from the landmark's observation area.

10. Ireland -- Ireland jumped two places in this year's index, thanks to finishing fourth in safety and security.

Kylemore Abbey, near Connemara, in County Galway, Ireland.

9. Finland — The Finnish enjoy the fifth-best performance of governance in the world, but their relatively poor economy, ranked 33rd, has helped push the country down from eighth last year.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

8. Netherlands -- Gaining one place in this year's index, the Netherlands is ranked highly in education, health, and personal freedom.

One of Amsterdam's canals.

7. Australia -- The country has ranked seventh for three consecutive years, and this year the Prosperity Index rated it as having the world's best education system.

Wikimedia Commons
A road sign warning of the dangers of some of Australia's better-known wildlife.

6. Canada -- According to the Prosperity Index, Canada is the true land of the free, as its citizens enjoy the highest levels of personal freedom of any nation surveyed. It fell one place from last year.

The Rocky Mountaineer train crosses Canada.

5. Sweden -- Swedes are blessed with the world's highest levels of entrepreneurship and opportunity, helping the country gain one place in this year's index.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images
A market square in Stockholm.

4. New Zealand — Strong social cohesion and community engagement mean New Zealand has the best level of social capital. It was rated the most prosperous non-European nation.

Phil Walter/Getty Images

3. Denmark — Danes can enjoy great governance, top-level education, and a high social-capital score. If not for its relatively poor health score (16th), the country might top the whole Index. It climbed one place this year.

Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images

2. Switzerland -- Switzerland has been second in the Prosperity Index for three consecutive years. The Alpine nation ranks top of the governance subindex and has the second-highest-rated economy.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

1. Norway -- The Scandinavian country tops the Prosperity Index once again in 2015. It has been first in each of the past seven years. Norway is the only country ranked in the top 10 of every subindex.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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