These are the 18 best countries in the world for starting and running a business

The World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report is just out — it’s the most authoritative source in the world for which countries are most friendly to entrepreneurs, and where’s it’s least onerous to keep an enterprise running.

We’ve laid out which countries are in the very upper end of the ranks. We also looked at where they were last year, and where they were five years ago, in the 2011 index.

The World Bank calculates its own score for each country, based on the “distance to frontier” (DTF). That tracks how far each country is from the best ever score for a number of different measures.

Those measures include things like how long it takes to get necessary permits, how long it takes to establish a business, and how burdensome the regulatory and tax environments are.

It’s one of the most well-respected indexes on economic performance in the world, and there’s fierce competition for a place in the upper ranks.

Here’s how those best countries look this year.

18. Malaysia (unchanged) — this global hub for Islamic finance holds its place, and is one of the most business-friendly countries in the developing world, beating many more advanced economies.

Petronus Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur.

17. Ireland (from 13th) -- not only has Ireland slipped this year, it's dropped quite a way in the last five years. In 2011, it was ranked 9th in the world.

Lucian Milasan /
A view of the quays on the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland.

16. Estonia (unchanged) — the highest-ranked Baltic state keeps its crown, fighting off competition from Lithuania. It's one of 9 European countries that make it into the list.

Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images.
Tallinn, Estonia.

15. Germany (from 14th) -- Europe's biggest economy has generally made progress since 2011, when it came in 22nd place. It's the second best-ranked country in the eurozone.


14. Canada (from 16th) — The United States' northern neighbour registers an improvement this year, but has some ground to make up if it wants to go back to where it was 5 years ago, when it came in 7th.

Montreal, Canada.

13. Australia (from 10th) -- despite a modest decline this year, Australia remains the second highest-ranked country in the whole of the southern hemisphere.


12. Macedonia (from 30th) — as well as being one of the poorest countries at the upper end of the list, Macedonia surged up the ranks, rising from 38th 5 years ago.


11. Taiwan (from 19th) -- the island state off the coast of China is another impressive climber. Not only did it rise 8 places this year, but it's risen from 33rd place since 2011.

10. Finland (from 9th) -- despite a drop this year, Finland has improved over the last 5 years, rising from 13th. It sneaks into the top 10, one of 5 European countries that does.

7. United States (unchanged) -- the world's biggest economy still holds a relatively high spot, but has lost ground relative to 5 years ago, when it came in 5th.

Getty Images

6. United Kingdom (from 8th) -- home to Europe's biggest financial centre, the UK was credited by the World Bank for a cut in corporation tax, and comes second in terms of European countries.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

4. South Korea (from 5th) -- in recent years South Korea has become much more business-friendly, according to the World Bank, rising from 16th just 5 years ago.

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