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.
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.
A total of 80 countries were considered; the top 50 is as follows:
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- United Arab Emirates
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- Costa Rica
- 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.
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.