Apr 012014

What differentiates between a developed country and one that’s still in the process of development besides the obvious prosperity and economic strength? Factors such as life expectancy, education, standard of living, child welfare, health care, economic welfare, and population happiness play major roles to determine the Human Development Index of a country that ranks a country based on how high is its level of development. Some critics claim the HDI of a country to be a vague estimate of its development, but nonetheless, the numbers don’t lie and the strength and stability of these countries speak for themselves. Here are the top ten highly developed countries based on their HDIs.

1. Norway

And in the absolute top spot, with the highest HDI value of 0.943, we have the Kingdom of Norway. The country is a constitutional monarchy and the 5 million inhabitants enjoy extremely high education standards, very low poverty and unemployment rates, a long average life expectancy of 80.2 years and a stable economy. It was a major founding member of NATO but refused to join the EU although it maintains its cordial relations with neighboring European countries. It was also a founding member of the UN and helped found the Council of Europe, while being an active member of WTO and OECD. It has one of the largest reserves of petroleum, natural gas, minerals, lumber, seafood, freshwater and hydro power in the world and exports oil as a major export. They are famous for their universal health care and highly advanced schooling systems. So it comes as no surprise that Norway stands atop the list of the world’s most highly developed countries.

2. Australia

Australia is the thirteenth largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $918.978 billion and a per capita GDP of $40,386 (5th largest). With an HDI of 0.929, Australia boasts of having some of the highest rankings in the world when it comes to the quality of life, health, education, economic freedom and freedom of expression and human rights protection. Australia has a lot of biodiversity and the government strives to keep the ecosystem stable and the wildlife preserved. Their average life expectancy stands tall at 81.2 years and its a popular tourist destination. Have a look at this beautiful video.

3. Netherlands

The land of weed and pot brownies is so high up on this list because they are high in everything (get it? They’re high). They’re a constitutional monarchy along with being a representative democracy. They have very high educational and literacy standards and very low poverty and unemployment rates. They were one of the key founders of the EU, NATO, OECD and WATO and host five inernational court systems, gaining it the nickname of the world’s legal capital. Their GDP is $832.16 billion and a per capita GDP of $49,950. The Dutch were ranked the happiest people in the world as of May 2011, maybe because of the pot. I don’t know. The country has a stable economy, strong government, low taxes, beautiful cities and a life expectancy of 79.8 years with an HDI of 0.910. So, they’re not all about the weed high now, are they?

4. United States of America

The most powerful country in the world started out as a British colony before they started the American Revolution, got their independence, fought with the Native Americans, dealt with the Civil War, survived the Great Depression and battled in two World Wars and have thus transformed into one of the world’s major super powers. Their GDP is the largest in the world at a whopping $15 trillion and a per capita GDP of $48,147. The government in the US is a representative democracy and its an industrial giant in manufacturing, telecommunications, technology and automobiles. It is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, but despite all that, the US has a 15 percent poverty rate, 9 percent unemployment average and their educational standards fall behind the rest of the world. Although life expectancy is relatively high at 79 years, the US loses more points due to health problems as as up to 33 percent of adults are obese and the obesity rates are showing no signs of decrease. Above all, they are under massive debt because of the global recession and the wars they have waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, their HDI of 0.910 keeps them in the top 5 of our list.

5. New Zealand

With an HDI score of 0.908, New Zealand escorts us into the top 5 of our list. Historically, it was one of the last groups of islands to be discovered and inhabited by humans. The natural landscape in New Zealand is breathtaking, with strong biodiversity and a flourishing animal life. Like Canada, New Zealand is also a parliamentary constitutional monarchy having Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State. The country boasts of having one of the highest living standards and happiness ratings in the world and has always been a strong supporter of peace and the environment by banning nuclear weapons and sustaining a bio diverse ecosystem. New Zealand’s GDP is $157.877 billion and a GDP per capita is $35,374 for a small population of just about 4.3 million people. Educational standards, literacy rates and health standards are very high with an average citizen’s life span of 80.2 years. Crime rates in New Zealand are very low, so it is a safe and beautiful haven for its citizens and tourists alike.

6. Canada

Canada is one of the few countries having two national anthems and is the second largest country in the world by rank of its area. It is a parliamentary democracy along with being a constitutional democracy, with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State. Canada’s HDI number is 0.908 and for good value as well as it has a DP of $1.758 trillion and a per capita GDP of $51,147. It has a very sound economy and the level of education and literacy rates are very high with a large chunk of the population being multi-lingual as well. It is famous for its free health care system with the citizens having an average life expectancy of 80.7 years and the taxes imposed on these citizens are very low. Canada also boasts of being home to the world famous Niagra Falls, and is a popular tourist destination.

7. Ireland

Ireland! You read the word and chuckled at the thought of leprechauns and beer and an accent par human understanding, but a green little man with a pot of gold is not the reason for mentioning Ireland in this list, although that really wouldn’t be too bad an idea. The Republic of Ireland boasts of an impressive HDI of 0.908 and has a literacy rate of 99 percent with a life expectancy of 78.9 years. The country has impressive monetary figures with a GDP of $203.89 billion and a per capita GDP of $45,497. It is ranked no. 7 in the world for its freedom of press, economic freedom and political freedom. It was enjoying rapid economic and developmental growth when the global recession of 2008 began, but then it experienced a massive drop in GDP and went into debt due to the negative GDP. It has been working with other European countries since then to continue development and growth.

8. Liechtenstein

The small state of Liechtenstein, with an HDI of 0.905, has one of the smallest populations in the world and its landmass is not much as well with the country covering an area of a mere 160 square kilometers. With a population of just 35,000, the government is based on the parliamentary democratic system and boasts of having a GDP per capita of $141,000, one of the highest in the world and unemployment and poverty rates are virtually non-existent. It is a major investment center for other countries and imposes very low taxes on its people. And on top of that, the landscape and the scenic beauty of the country is breathtaking.

9. Germany

Think of Germany and the first image that springs to mind of those still dwelling in the past is the people who always seem to be angry and are sadistic murderers, but the post war facts suggest a completely different picture. Germany is a nation with one of the highest educational standards in the world, while having the largest economy in the entire European Union. The literacy rate is exceptionally high as it stands at 99 percent while average class attendances are a full hundred percent. Germany is a country built on engineering and industrial development, with some of the most efficient and perfectly designed products in the world which include the cars (Mercedes, Audi, BMW). The GDP amounts to 3.5 trillion dollars with a per capita number of $40,631. Although unemployment rate is 7 percent, but the poverty rate is low. The people are very hospitable, and add to the appeal of a very major tourist destination where the average life expectancy is 79.4 years. germany’s HDI value is 0.905.

10. Sweden

The Kingdom of Sweden, a largely liberal country in Northern Europe, does not have much to boast for covered area (it is roughly the size of the state of California), but it is here on this list for a reason: an HDI of 0.904. Reasons? The Swedes are considered to be one of the happiest people of the world, almost all 9.3 million of them, with high marks in income of $35,876 per capita and a regular GDP of $485 billion. In addition to that, they boast an average life expectancy of 80.9 years, a remarkable education system, low unemployment and poverty rates, free and equal health care and is a fore runner of environmental sustainability while urging other countries to embrace the green and becoming more Eco-friendly. Also, their rich history makes them a magnet for travellers making it a major tourist attraction. Check out these ten good things about Sweden.

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