The world's best country? The results are in

Oliver Smith
Can you spot the winner? - chungking - Fotolia

The world's best country? According to an annual ranking by the media company US News, it's Switzerland. Given its high GDP per capita (11th best in the world, according to the IMF, at $60,787) and life expectancy (2nd overall, at 83.4 years), history of pacifism, and fantastic Alpine scenery, that's hardly surprising. 

At a glance | Why is Switzerland so great?

Less expected is the country taking third spot: the UK. US News reckons Britain (which has the 28th best GDP per capita; 20th best life expectancy; a history of warfare; no Alpine scenery) is better than Germany, Japan, Sweden, Australia and Norway. What's working in its favour? The rankings take into account nine categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power and Quality of Life, but certain factors are more important. Citizenship ("cares about human rights, cares about the environment, gender equality, progressive, religious freedom, respects property rights, trustworthy, well-distributed political power") contributes to 16.95 per cent of the overall ranking, for example, while for Heritage ("culturally accessible, has a rich history, has great food, many cultural attractions") it's just 3.17 per cent. 

It turns out Britain is pretty awesome too - Credit: This content is subject to copyright./Loop Images

A total of 80 countries were considered; the top 50 is as follows:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. Japan
  6. Sweden
  7. United States
  8. Australia
  9. France 
  10. Norway
  11. Netherlands
  12. Denmark
  13. Finland
  14. New Zealand
  15. Singapore
  16. Italy 
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Austria
  19. Spain
  20. China
  21. Ireland
  22. United Arab Emirates
  23. South Korea
  24. Portugal
  25. India
  26. Thailand
  27. Russia
  28. Brazil
  29. Greece
  30. Israel
  31. Poland
  32. Saudi Arabia
  33. Mexico
  34. Qatar
  35. Malaysia
  36. Turkey
  37. Czech Republic
  38. South Africa
  39. Indonesia
  40. Vietnam
  41. Panama
  42. Argentina
  43. Philippines
  44. Peru
  45. Egypt
  46. Hungary 
  47. Costa Rica
  48. Morocco
  49. Croatia
  50. Sri Lanka

The list is at odds with last year's Telegraph Travel Awards survey of more than 70,000 readers, who named New Zealand, for the fourth consecutive year, their favourite country. The Maldives came second, followed by South Africa, Japan and Burma. 

Best countries

Our ranking, of course, was based on the experience for the traveller, rather than quality of life for citizens. 

Each year a handful of organisations - including PwC, Mercer and The Economist - also rate the world's cities, according to "liveability". They placed London, Melbourne and Vienna, respectively, at number one. Your favourite city? That would be Cape Town. 

Which really is the worlds best city?22 reasons why Cape Town is the world’s best city