Canada Ranks No. 1 Country in the World According to 2021 Best Countries Report

In the latest 2021 Best Countries Report by U.S News & World Report, Canada takes the top overall spot of number 1 country in the world.

The sixth annual “Best Countries” Report is a ranking and analysis project in collaboration with the U.S News & World Report, BAV Group, VMLY&R (a unit of global marketing communications company), and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

This year, the model that powers this report has evolved in response to a transformational year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cultural, economic, political and technological influences remain important, and two new categories have been added: social purpose and agility. Together, this broad range of categories determines how the 78 countries studied are ranked on the world stage.

“Nations are impacted on many critical fronts by how they are perceived globally – from foreign relations to international business to tourism. These perceptions are ever-evolving in a rapidly changing world,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News. “The 2021 Best Countries analysis combines data and storytelling to explore how countries compare on a host of global issues.”

Key themes from the 2021 Best Countries Report

  • For the first time, Canada is the No. 1 overall country. Japan and Germany finish Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, while Switzerland, the previous No. 1 overall country, falls to No. 4. Australia remains as the No. 5 overall country followed by the United States, which rises one position to No. 6 overall.
  • Canada ranks No. 1 in quality of life and social purpose. It is also perceived as having a good job market, caring about human rights and is committed to social justice. Additionally, the country finished No. 1 in being viewed as not corrupt and respecting property rights.
  • Social justice is a global ambition. Eighty percent of global citizens feel aligned with social justice, a broad term that refers to movements calling for addressing racial and gender inequities, while 76% also agree that a country is stronger when it is more racially and ethnically diverse. Canada and the Nordic countries are viewed as the most committed to social justice, while the U.S. sits at No. 18. And on the specific topic of racial equality, the U.S. only manages to achieve No. 69, behind both China and Iraq.
  • Women are viewed as effective leaders. Eighty-three percent of global citizens believe there is a leadership crisis in the world today. The majority of respondents view women leaders in a positive light, as 68% agree that countries led by women tend to be better managed.
  • A nation’s perceived agility is the most important driver of strength in 2021. Across the countries measured, agility accounts for per capita GDP variations the most – underscoring that it is essential for any country to be seen as adaptable, progressive and responsive. The new Agility subranking carries the greatest weight among the 10 subrankings. The U.S. leads the world in perceived agility, but is not among the top 10 in adaptability, coming in at No. 13 on this attribute.
  • The influence of conspiracy theories. A majority of respondents (75%) agree that conspiracy theories are a threat to society. However, 39% believe that governments have made up the COVID-19 pandemic to control their citizens.

“This year the model behind the Best Countries report has been updated and evolved in response to 2020, a year like no other,” said John Keaveney, WPP advisor and head of Analytics & Insight, BAV Group. “From the death of George Floyd and the subsequent rise of the social justice movement, to the need for quick and decisive action by our governments and scientists to tackle the threat from COVID-19, all such seismic events now play a role in the way citizens rate a nation and its society as a whole. By combining more traditional measures of a nation’s power and influence with our new dimensions of Social Purpose and Agility, we are now able to more accurately measure the strength and perceptual equity of any country in 2021.”

2021 Best Countries rankings

*See the full rankings here.

Overall

  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • United States
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • The Netherlands

Most Powerful

  • United States
  • China
  • Russia

Most Agile

  • United States
  • Australia
  • Canada

For Social Purpose

  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • New Zealand

For Women

  • Sweden
  • Demark
  • Norway

Most Forward-Looking

  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • United States

For Racial Equality

  • The Netherlands
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

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