50 Countries with the Best Quality of Life

The top nations were praised for their multiculturalism, free higher education and commitment to human rights.Getty Images
50. Uruguay: Education in Uruguay is free of charge and required for children aged four through 18. The country became the first in the world to provide a laptop for all elementary students.Getty Images

What brings meaning to your life? Is it connection to your family? A satisfying job? Good health? Freedom of speech? And which countries in the world help its citizens to achieve life satisfaction?

In ranking of the countries with the best quality of life, U.S. News came up with its own points system. They used nine country attributes including affordability, family friendliness, income equality, political stability, safety and a well-developed public health system.

Using these attributes, they surveyed more than 21,000 global citizens to find out which countries afforded the best overall quality of life for their citizens.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, countries with a Nordic model of social investment, universal healthcare and high taxation were ranked near the top in providing a high quality of life.

Lower down on the list were high-conflict zones, with rampant social inequality and patchy access to healthcare.

Iran is at the very bottom of the full list of 80 countries. While it has one of the largest economies and populations of the Middle East, it’s proof that bigger isn't always better. The country is governed by an authoritarian regime, and has problems with sex trafficking, opiate addiction and corruption.

Other countries at the bottom of the list include Lebanon, which has suffered from from the neighboring Syrian conflict, and Algeria, which has issues with inequality, human rights violations and corruption.

The top nations were praised for their multiculturalism, free higher education and commitment to human rights. But which countries are they, and did the U.S. make the cut? Find out with this slideshow, which ranks the countries with the best quality of life, with number one as the highest.

 

49. Peru: Much of the world’s copper, silver and gold come from Peru, and the country has benefited tremendously from high international prices for these goods.Getty Images
48. Qatar: Due to the country’s oil wealth, Qataris enjoy a high standard of living. Healthcare and education are free for all. Getty Images
47. Costa Rica: Costa Rica avoided much of the conflict that plagued its Central American neighbors in the 1970s and 1980s.Getty Images
46. Turkey: Increased privatization in finance and other sectors helped create a dynamic and resilient economy attractive to foreign investment. Getty Images
45. Dominican Republic: The country has an open-market economy. The service sector, which includes tourism and finance, is now the Dominican Republic’s largest employer.Getty Images
44. Latvia: Latvia’s capital city, Riga, was a bustling port town as early as the Middle Ages. Celebrated for its Art Nouveau architecture, the city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.Getty Images
43. Chile: Compared to the rest of Latin America, Chile ranks favorably in human development and income. International institutions laud Chile’s government for reducing the number of poor.Getty Images
42. Mexico: Most of the Mexican economy relies on services—with trade, transportation, finance and government accounting for about two-thirds of gross domestic product. Getty Images
41. Saudi Arabia: Limited democracy was extended to men in 2005, and women are just beginning their path to equal voting and other human rights. Getty Images
40. Vietnam: Vietnam is densely populated and growing quickly, with about a third of the population living in bustling cities.Getty Images
39. Romania: Romania’s tourism industry, increasingly drawing visitors to the picturesque countryside, is one of the fastest growing in Europe. Getty Images
38. Russia: Russia has one of the world’s largest economies, powered by its extensive natural resources. Getty Images