By Peter Marten, August 2010
Newsweek poses a "simple yet elusive" question: With the whole world to choose from, what is the best place to live? The answer is a resounding "Finland!"
The editors of Newsweek draw their conclusion based on five criteria: health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life. "Despite the long winter, Finland is a pretty great place to be – the best actually."
Not only does Finland rank first overall, it's also the best small country, the best high-income country and, last but certainly not least, the best country for education. A related Newsweek article, released in connection with the World's Best Countries rankings, sums up education success stories from the countries that scored best.
In another related piece, journalist Andrei Codrescu ponders why "cold" and "small" nations (in other words Nordic countries) always receive such high marks in studies like this. Finland is number one, Sweden number three, Norway six and Denmark ten.
"Quality of life improves immensely when one must get as close to one's beloved as possible to fend off the chill," Codrescu ventures. With tongue still in cheek, he suggests that the political environment is civilised because "it's too cold to fight in the streets."
Although Codrescu's musings are amusing, we'd also direct you to a page entitled "How we ranked the world" where you can examine the methods and weighting Newsweek used to arrive at the final rankings. It lends statistical clout to a certain phrase that Finns are fond of repeating to show that they know how lucky they are: "Being born in Finland is like winning the lottery."
Newsweek: The world's best countries (interactive rankings list)
Best countries in the world (slideshow)
How we ranked the world (methodology)
With best countries like these... (why Nordic countries score high)
How to close the achievement gap (secrets of successful school systems)
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