The world's best country? The results are in

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