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'Pleasantly constant': Why Switzerland ranks as the 'world’s best country' — again

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
'Pleasantly constant': Why Switzerland ranks as the 'world’s best country' — again
Still number 1. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

For the sixth time, Switzerland wins the coveted title of the world’s top country in an international ranking. Why does the nation make it to the no.1 spot —time after time?


It’s official: Switzerland has been ranked ahead of 87 other countries analysed by the US News & World Report for its 2023 ranking, which was released on Wednesday morning. 

It is the sixth time that Switzerland tops the rankings, which measure a country’s global performance based on 73 categories. They include entrepreneurship; quality of life; adaptability and progress; social purpose; and other attributes listed here

What exactly makes Switzerland the best in the world?

The country “snags the top spot for business-friendliness and education, "and ranks in the top 10 for quality of life, social purpose and cultural influence," according to study authors. “Among attributes, it was considered No.1 for being economically stable, safe and least corrupt."

“And while people may not see it as the sexiest place, they would like to live there."

One of Switzerland’s top qualities, the study showed, is 'consistency.'

Unlike the political and economic volatility of many other countries, "there is something pleasantly constant about Switzerland,” the survey found.

It is true that change of any kind is slow to come here.

Part of the reason for this sluggishness is cultural: the Swiss don’t like spontaneity (unless it’s planned) or doing anything on a whim. 

They believe that rushing things and making hasty decisions will have disastrous results, which is why they prefer to take a cautious — even if painstakingly slow — path.

As a general rule, the Swiss have a penchant not only for planning, but for pre-planning as well. They like to thoroughly examine each aspect of a proposed change and look at it from all possible angles.

Another reason (besides the cultural one mentioned above) contributes to Switzerland’s notorious slowness in decision-making — the country’s political system.

Due to Switzerland’s decentralised form of government, the Federal Council must consult with cantons before a decision can be made at the national level.

That, as you can imagine, could take a while as each of the 26 cantons may drag their individual feet, and there could be no consensus among them.

READ ALSO : Why are things so slow to change in Switzerland? 

While some may see this ‘consistency’ as a negative, the US News & World Report considers it to be a definite plus.


How did Switzerland rank in major categories?

‘Open for business’

In this category, the country is in the first place (100 points out of 100).

Simply, this means  the country  is ‘business friendly’ because the government has created a good environment for businesses to thrive. 

"Switzerland has low unemployment, a skilled labour force and one of the highest gross domestic products per capita in the world," the report relates. 

'Educated population'

Here, too, Switzerland excels (100 points, first place).

Switzerland not only has an excellent and accessible education system, but according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), well over 80 percent of the country’s population have an upper secondary education or above.

This proportion is higher than the OECD average of 75 percent.

READ ALSO: How can foreigners get into a Swiss university?


'Quality of life'

Here, Switzerland also got a high score ( 96.7), which places it in the fourth place.

This particular category, which includes essentials such as broad access to food, housing, quality education, healthcare, and employment, also comprises “intangibles such as job security, political stability, individual freedom and environmental quality.”

This is not exactly a surprise, as Switzerland often ranks highly in this category in other international surveys as well. 

In which categories does Switzerland rate poorly?


Switzerland’s score here is 26, which lands it in the 20th place.

But this is actually good news, if you consider criteria for this category:

“The world’s most powerful countries also are the ones that consistently dominate news headlines, preoccupy policymakers and shape global economic patterns. Their foreign policies and military budgets are tracked religiously."

Needless to say, Switzerland has no interest in wielding global power.

Besides (unintentionally) invading neighbouring Liechtenstein on three occasions, Switzerland is not at all power-hungry.

This is not only because it is neutral, but also because its politics is based on peaceful coexistence.

(The number 1 spot in this category was snagged, not surprisingly, by the United States).


This too is not a major surprise, since the sub-category here is ‘dynamic’, for which Switzerland was given a low score of 29.1.

The country did a bit better in the ‘distinctive’ and ‘unique’ sub-category, with scores of 43.5 and 42.1, respectively.

Overall, Switzerland is in the 26th place.

You can see details of each category here.

What is the Swiss reaction to the report?

Overwhelmingly positive, of course.

“What people love about us is our reliability and our predictability," said Jacques Pitteloud, the Swiss ambassador to the U.S.

“With us, you know what you get, which is rare nowadays,” Alexandre Edelmann, head of Presence Switzerland, a government agency that promotes the country abroad, pointed out.



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