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Friday, January 28, 2011

The world's top ten most prosperous (happiest) countries




The world's top ten most prosperous (happiest) countries - International Business Times
(The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank has ranked 110 countries by prosperity, based on criteria that combined wealth, income and quality of life and other variables.)
By Staff Reporter
January 25, 2011 12:01 PM EST

1. Norway

With a small population, 100 percent literacy rate, long life expectancy (81 years), high standard of living, high levels of personal satisfaction and safety, a highly educated workforce, and high confidence in their government, Norway is the most prosperous/happiest nation on earth. The land of fjords, kippers and herring also boasts a low inflation rate of a 3.8 percent, very high levels of gross domestic savings, and a jobless rate of only 2.6 percent. Norway’s GDP growth per capita averaged 2.1 percent per annum between 2004 and 2008; plus Norway’s capital invested per worker is $177,000, the second highest in the world, suggesting continued higher growth.

2. Denmark

Like its Scandinavian neighbor, Denmark boasts 100 percent literacy, long life expectancy (79 years), a society viewed by its residents as safe and meritocratic, low unemployment (3.4 percent), highly developed democracy, high domestic savings rate, high levels of personal freedom, and a very high standard of living.
The Danish market, valued at $174 billion, is 30th largest in the world, and high-tech goods make up a relatively high 16 percent of total manufactured exports. Interestingly, the country has a relatively low annual GDP growth rate of about 1.5 percent.

3. Finland

Yet another Scandinavian country at the very top of the list. Like Denmark and Norway, the Finns enjoy long lives, good health, 100 percent literacy, low inflation (4.1 percent), high domestic savings rate, well-developed democracy and high levels of personal freedom.

4. Australia

While a devastating flood has swept over much of the Queensland province of this vast country, Australians still enjoy high literacy (100 percent), long lives (81 years on average), low inflation, high gross domestic savings, high personal freedom and low unemployment.

5. New Zealand

Following its mighty neighbor to the west, the islands of New Zealand not only have spectacular natural scenery, but also low inflation (4 percent), high domestic savings, a highly democratic government, strong public school system, very high levels of civil liberties, and long life expectancy rates.

6. Sweden

The final member of Scandinavia on this list, Sweden is numbingly similar to its neighbors: people living in a safe, free nation, with high levels of freedom and civil liberties, and enjoying long lives and economic bounty. Plus their meatballs can’t be beat.

7. Canada

Canada comes ahead of its more celebrated neighbor to the south, with a 100 percent literacy rate, very stable economy, low rate of inflation, moderate joblessness, well developed democratic government, high education levels, and high levels of personal freedoms. And lots of great hockey players too.

8. Switzerland

Known for spectacular mountain scenery, a well-ordered society, secretive banks and perfectly-working clocks, Switzerland also has 100 percent literacy, long life expectancy (82 years), very low inflation, high domestic savings, very stable and effective democratic government, and excellent education systems. Plus, they were smart enough not to join the euro currency.

9. The Netherlands

Although Holland is an overcrowded country, the Dutch enjoy long lives (80 years), perfect 100 percent literacy, complete political freedom and civil liberties. Low unemployment (4 percent), an effective democratic government, and a generally favorable climate for its large population of Muslim immigrants.

10. The United States

Despite high unemployment, a mountainous federal deficit and a declining manufacturing base, the U.S. is still the dominant economic force on the planet, with 100 percent literacy (according to Legatum) and long life expectancies of 78 years. Moreover, inflation is low and despite all the talk of financial woes, only 3 percent of bank loans are non-performing, a rate far below the global average. There is gender quality (for the most part), extensive civil rights and liberties and great opportunities for advancement (the recession and housing collapse notwithstanding). Crime is actually decreasing across the country and the country welcomes immigrants (again, contrary to the tone of much of media coverage)

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