The world’s best and worst places to live

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Yet again, the Nordic countries have dominated a list of the world’s most desirable places to live.

But before the rest of us get too jealous, the experts warn that the Nordics shouldn’t sit back and relax just yet.

The UK-based Legatum Institute has just released its annual Prosperity Index, which ranks 142 countries across 89 variables under eight sub-indexes: the economy; entrepreneurship and opportunity; governance; education; health; safety and security; personal freedom; and social capital.

Scandinavia is doing great but not that great

For the seventh consecutive year, Norway topped the list as the most prosperous country in the world.

It scored the highest in many variables including “trust in others,” “satisfaction with freedom of choice,” “civil liberty and free choice” and “satisfaction with standard of living.”

Denmark and Sweden came third and fifth.

Finland and Iceland ranked ninth and 12th on the list.

On the flip side, the research company says that the Nordics still have some catching up to do.

Economy-wise, they haven’t been doing as well as many other advanced countries.

Among the top 20 most prosperous countries, Finland and Iceland are the only countries whose economy sub-index ranks outside the top 30.

Norway, Sweden and Finland have all seen their economy ranking slip in recent years.

China is rich, not prosperous

The strongest economy is Singapore, which ranked 17th in the overall Prosperity Index.

The city-state performed well overall. It appeared in the top 15 for all except two sub-indexes: personal freedom and social capital.

China came third in terms of economy, but remained relatively low in the overall ranking: 52nd place.

It came a poor 100th place on safety and security and 120th on personal freedom.

“The Prosperity Index is an answer to a problem,” said the Prosperity Index’s program director, Nathan Gamester, during the launch ceremony.

“The way we’ve traditionally measured how successful countries are is too narrow.”

“Of course wealth is important but it doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Indonesia is the index’s biggest success story.

In the past seven years it has moved up 21 places to 69th position — the fastest mover on the list.

The world’s getting more dangerous

Another key finding of the annual index is that the world has become a more dangerous place since the survey was first carried out in 2009.

Africa and the Middle East have witnessed major decline in the safety and security sub-index.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Syria were named the most dangerous places in the world. Their overall prosperity rankings are 137th, 141st and 136th respectively.

The United States (no.11 in the overall ranking) is the most unsafe country among the chart’s top countries, taking the 33rd spot.

The report says the United States is the only western country to register “high levels of state-sponsored political violence” — a level of 3 (on a 1 to 5 scale), equivalent to countries such as Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.

The index also quotes Amnesty International’s report that the United States has the same level of political violence as Saudi Arabia.

Hong Kong was hailed as the safest place in the world for the third year in a row.

10 most prosperous countries

1. Norway

2. Switzerland

3. Denmark

4. New Zealand

4. Sweden

6. Canada

7. Australia

8. Netherlands

9. Finland

10. Ireland

10 least prosperous countries

142. Central African Republic

141. Afghanistan

140. Haiti

139. Chad

138. Burundi

137. Democratic Republic of the Congo

136. Syria

135. Yemen

134. Sudan

133. Angola

Top and bottom countries by the 8 sub-indexes

Economy

Best: Singapore

Worst: Liberia

Entrepreneurship and opportunity

Best: Sweden

Worst: Central African Republic

Governance

Best: Switzerland

Worst: Afghanistan

Education

Best: Australia

Worst: Central African Republic

Health

Best: USA

Worst: Central African Republic

Safety and security

Best: Hong Kong

Worst: Democratic Republic of Congo

Personal freedom

Best: Canada

Worst: Yemen

Social capital

Best: New Zealand

Worst: Togo