Monday, January 3, 2011

best countries: quality of life and political environment

from Best Countries in the World - Newsweek:

Best Quality of Life:
Given its breathtaking natural landscape and a laid-back atmosphere—most stores are still closed on Sundays—it's no wonder Norway has the highest quality of life. But the Scandinavian country of 4.8 million also has hard figures to back up its ranking: it scored the highest on standard of living for five years in a row, according to the U.N. Human Development Report. Norwegians also live in one of the most socially and economically equal societies, with one of the healthiest environments.
Best Political Environment:
In a competition for most neutral country, Sweden could give Switzerland a run for its money: Swedes haven't fought a war in nearly two centuries, and even though they joined the EU in 1995, they have not adopted the euro. Transparency International ranks Sweden among the top three least corrupt countries in the world. The cartoonist Lars Vilks—who was attacked for drawing the Prophet Muhammad as a dog—embodies Sweden's commitment to freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion. All places of worship in Sweden receive some funding from the government. Perhaps it's the open environment that inspires about 80 percent of Swedes to vote.
Bonus fact for people afraid of socialism: "Cuba outdoes its fellow middle-income countries in quality of life. Cuba also ranks No. 3 in education among upper-middle-class countries."