Newsweek magazine asked the expert panel to decide based on education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment.
Finland, the small country that gave you saunas and Nokia telephones, rally drivers and probably the last real blondes in the world, classy designs and IT expertise, full of forests (72% coverage) and lakes, came top ahead of Switzerland and Sweden.
Finland is clean country with a language similar only to Estonian. It appears to have lots of double vowels and according to Wikipedia the Finnish word saippuakivikauppias (soapstone vendor) is claimed to be the world’s longest palindromic word (the same spelled backward as forward) in everyday use. When I went there the first time it took me a while to realise that the long street names were actually written in both Finnish and Swedish.
Finns can be quite reserved and there are problems with alcoholism and depression and the dark winter months. A journalist in Finland said it was good for their self-esteem but the most important thing was beating Sweden. I’ve seen that rivalry at ice-hockey and I believe him!
The UK by the way came in 14th, behind the USA at 11th.
Updated 20 September 2010: A report in the Finnish press last month on the results of a Gallup poll showed that if all the people in the world could live wherever they wanted, Finland’s population would grow by 2 million.
Gallup asked 350,000 people round the world where they would prefer to live and calculated a potential net migration index. More people preferred Singapore, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia whilst Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Zimbabwe would be relatively deserted.
Amongst Nordic countries Sweden took 8th place overall, Norway came 16th, and Finland 18th just pipping Denmark at 19th.