The World's Real Winners

best-places-intro
Illustrations by Frank Chimero

Statistics can measure only so much. To enjoy life's more particular pleasures, move to one of these lucky nations.

best-places-india
Illustration by Frank Chimero

INDIA

Flying a kite from the roof is part of everyday life in India. But each year, on Jan. 14, an international kite festival, Makar Sankranti, draws more than 1 million enthusiasts from 36 countries.

best-places-czech-republic
Illustration by Frank Chimero

CZECH REPUBLIC

According to Durex condoms' global sex survey: "Czechs have sex as often as the French; they start their sexual life as early as the Dutch; and they fear venereal disease as little as the Italians."

best-places-netherlands
Illustration by Frank Chimero

THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch don't talk much about gay rights. Why bother? Same-sex couples won equal rights in 2001. And Amsterdam's annual gay-pride festival is still considered the hottest party on the planet.

best-places-belgium
Illustration by Frank Chimero

BELGIUM

Dogs are more than man's best friend here—they're truly part of the family. They're allowed in grocery stores, restaurants, sporting events, and music festivals. You can even bring Rex on the train.

best-places-spain
Illustration by Frank Chimero

SPAIN

Sure, the paella is fabulous, but it's anomalies like foie-gras candy and ham "tapioca," created by molecular gastronomists like Ferrán Adrià, (of Catalonia's elBulli) that make Spain the foodie's mecca.

best-places-south-africa
Illustration by Frank Chimero

SOUTH AFRICA

The 850-mile drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town features big-game terrain, pristine beaches, and towering cliffs. Be sure to stop and check out the ancient Bushman paintings at the Kamberg center.

best-places-mali
Illustration by Frank Chimero

MALI

Itinerant entertainers known as jeli have been showing up in Bamako for 500 years. Today, Mali is West Africa's musical hotbed, and the annual Festival Au Desert attracts the world's best folk musicians.

best-places-france
Illustration by Frank Chimero

FRANCE

Maman is sitting pretty, with as much as seven months' paid leave, low-cost health care, and a baby nurse who makes house calls. If she's sick, the government sends someone to do the family's laundry.

best-places-malta
Illustration by Frank Chimero

MALTA

It rarely rains between April and August in Malta, and the long, dry summers are matched by short, mild winters. Winds from northern Africa known as xlokk keep the place temperate in spring and fall.

best-places-japan
Illustration by Frank Chimero

JAPAN

Japan's elders (who make up a fifth of the population) don't just enjoy generous pensions, the respect of society, and the world's longest life expectancy. They also get their own national holiday, Keirō No Hi.

best-places-switzerland
Illustration by Frank Chimero

SWITZERLAND

Swiss rappers rhyme in dialect and care more about lokalpatriotismus (local pride) than world domination. They get radio play and sold-out shows without needing body guards or bulletproof vests.

best-places-brazil
Illustration by Frank Chimero

BRAZIL

No other country has so many plastic surgeons per capita; the $15 billion industry draws almost as many tourists as the beaches. Innovation-friendly regulations give Brazilian surgeons a leg up.