These Are the World's 'Best' Countries—and the U.S. Isn't Even in the Top Five

Despite President Donald Trump's efforts to "Make America Great Again," the United States did not even make the top five in an annual ranking of the world's "best" countries published Wednesday by U.S. News & World Report.

The "Best Countries" index, published alongside the BAV Group consultancy and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, ranks nations based on a range of categories, including its allure as a travel destination, business friendliness, cultural influence, modernness, entrepreneurship, quality of life, heritage, power and growth. Based on a combination of these metrics, Switzerland took the number one spot this year, followed by Japan, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom in the top five.

The graphic below provided by Statista illustrates the rankings in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of the world's best countries.

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U.S. News and World Report ranking of the world’s best countries. Statista

Next came Sweden and Australia before the U.S. in eighth place, a point to which it first slipped in 2018 and retained this year around. The U.S. took fourth place in 2016, but has slid down the list in recent years in a trend some have attributed to Trump's leadership, which researchers last year said had an "overwhelmingly negative" effect on global perception of the country.

"For the second year in a row, the U.S. ranks at No. 8 overall. However, the world's level of trust in the U.S. continues to decline, with the nation now at No. 27 for perceptions of trustworthiness," a press release accompanying this year's findings read. "Perceptions of the U.S. as a country that cares about human rights have also fallen. While these might be signs that President Donald Trump's strategy on the world stage may not be working, the U.S. is still perceived as No. 1 in power, followed closely by Russia at No. 2."

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President Donald Trump makes a statement about immigration and the border wall from the diplomatic reception room of the White House, January 19 in Washington. The Republican leader's controversial views on immigration, climate change and other divisive subjects has altered international relations and the perception of the U.S. abroad. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The 2019 Best Countries report evaluated 80 nations across 75 different metrics, using a survey of more than 20,000 global respondents in 36 countries. The U.S. and its top two military competitors, Russia and China, took identical spots for the "most influential" subcategory. Russia and China both ascended the overall list this year, moving from 26 to 24 and from 20 to 16, respectively, though they too had slipped several spots in previous rankings. China and Russia also jumped from 23 to 20 and from 21 to 19 in cultural influence, respectively, while the U.S. dropped from third to fourth place this year.

The lead in this category was Italy, which also ranked first after the survey asked individuals for the first time whether where they preferred to get their food and wine. The U.S. came in 11th and seventh places in these two subcategories. As for healthcare, Germany took the top spot and the U.S. ranked 10th. The was also listed 16th in citizenship (most modern), where Norway took first; third in entrepreneurship, where Japan had the lead and 17th for quality of life, where northern neighbor Canada received the most favorable ratings.

In the subcategories, Sweden took first place in the best place to raise kids, live green and live as a woman, with the U.S. taking 20th, 15th and 16th places, respectively. The U.S. was also ranked as the 10th best spot to start a business with Thailand in first, the third most forward-looking with Japan in first, the 14th best place to start a corporation with Switzerland in first and the 19th most transparent with Norway in first.

The U.S. did not rank in the top 20 in a number of categories, including adventure (best to visit), open for business (most business-friendly), heritage (richest traditions) and movers up (social mobility). The lead for these four went to Brazil, Luxembourg, Italy and the United Arab Emirates, respectively. The U.S. also missed out on the top 20 best countries to travel alone, best countries to invest in, best countries for a comfortable retirement, best countries to start a career and best countries to study abroad. These subcategories were won out by Spain, Uruguay, New Zealand, Qatar and Malaysia, respectively.

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Former Vice President Al Gore delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, January 22 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. The top-ranked country is hosting a meeting that includes various global leaders, including heads of state and business moguls gathered to discuss top international issues. FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Respondents were also asked about some of the most pressing concerns that have gripped the international community over the past year. Amid persistent allegations of "fake news" emerging across the globe, some 63 percent said there were no objective news sources, while a third said the media was dividing rather than uniting people.

A solid majority of 80 percent felt that business leaders and CEOs should be vocal about their views on politics and society. About half of said they trust private companies to keep their personal data safe, and 58 percent said they would trust private companies more than the government to satisfy their needs. Up to 86 percent thought free trade was crucial to the world economy.

The #MeToo Movement continues to shape worldwide opinions, with 64 percent in support, 86 percent of respondents generally backing calls for tolerance and diversity, 90 percent agreeing that women should have the same rights as men and 77 percent saying LGBT people should enjoy the same rights as the non-LGBT community.

A majority of people also said the world has gotten worse this past year and more than 70 percent expressed the view that nationalism was on the rise. About two-thirds felt their nation was safe, but only one third thought the world was safe.

This article was updated to include an infographic.