Special Report

25 Best Countries to Live in the World

25. Slovenia
> Population:
2.1 million
> GNI per capita: $27,852
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 96.9%

A small Central European country, Slovenia gained independence in 1991 and today has the highest HDI score of any former Yugoslav nation. Slovenia’s education system is one of its major strengths. A typical Slovenian child is likely to spend nearly 17 years getting an education, one of the highest expected years of schooling in the world. A number of these years are spent in college, as an estimated 86% of college-age Slovenians pursue higher education after graduating from a secondary institution — the seventh highest tertiary enrollment ratio of any country. The country’s education system seems to be paying off. Slovenia’s 99.7% adult literacy rate is significantly higher than the global literacy rate of 81.2%.

Unlike many other European nations, especially the countries on the higher end of this list, Slovenia is not especially wealthy. With a GDP per capita of $27,576, Slovenia is the least wealthy of the 25 most livable countries.

24. Finland
> Population:
5.4 million
> GNI per capita: $38,695
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 100.0 %

Like the rest of Scandinavian countries, Finland is one of the world’s most livable countries. Finland’s entire adult population has at least some secondary school education. In only three other nations this is also the case. To compare, among OECD nations, just 84.5% of the adult population has received at least some secondary schooling.

As in other Nordic countries, there is relative equality among Finland’s citizens. The richest fifth of Finnish residents earn just four times as much than the poorest fifth, the 10th lowest ratio in the world.

23. Austria
> Population:
8.5 million
> GNI per capita: $43,869
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.4 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 99.9%

Austria is one of just four countries whose entire adult population has gone to secondary school. An individual born in the country is expected to receive about 16 years of schooling, in line with other OECD nations.

Some aspects of a country’s health system disproportionately impact women and the quality of these institutions is essential to a nation’s human development. Austria’s reproductive health is among the best on the planet. For every 100,000 live births in Austria, just four mothers die, tying a handful of other European nations as the fourth lowest maternal death rate worldwide. By contrast, the maternal mortality rate in the United States is 28 per 100,000 live births.

22. France
> Population:
64.6 million
> GNI per capita: $38,056
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.2 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 80.5%

France, the world’s most popular tourist destination, is also one of the most livable. France’s GNI per capita of $38,056 is roughly in line with the average GNI per capita of OECD nations of $37,658.

Like in many of Europe’s wealthier nations, French citizens enjoy relatively good health outcomes. The life expectancy at birth of 82.2 years is the 10th highest in world. Similarly, the infant mortality rate of 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births is among the lowest of any country and far lower than the global infant mortality rate of 33.6 deaths per 1,000 births.

21. Belgium
> Population:
11.1 million
> GNI per capita: $41,187
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years
> Pct. of pop. with at least some high school: 80.1%

As in most wealthy European nations, Belgians live relatively long lives, are well educated, and earn wages that on the whole support a reasonably good standard of living. At nearly 81 years, the typical Belgian born today can expect to live longer than most countries’ residents, including the United States. Also, more than two in five country residents have at least some secondary education, one of the highest such shares among OECD nations. While Belgium is by no means the wealthiest in the world, its GNI per capita of $41,187 is still one of the highest in the world, and higher even than most OECD nations.

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