If it is one thing you learn after taking a gander at 2019 Best Countries list by US News & World Report, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and global brand consultants BAV Consulting that ranks nations based on nine different parameters, it is that the countries occupying the top positions are not necessarily heritage-rich.
|Top 5 best countries
|The United Kingdom
In this sub-category, the top honours were bagged by a different set of countries ― none of these made it to the top five in the best countries ranking. More notably, each one retained its position in this category this year.
Here are the nations that made it to the top six when it comes to heritage:
The popularity of Italy is evident from the fact that while this European country is home to 60.8 million people, about 40 million tourists come here every year. While crediting it with the top honour for the third time in the heritage sub-category, the survey says: “From the artwork of Leonardo da Vinci to the fashion houses of Milan, Italy’s cultural influence has always been profound. The country’s regional cuisines inspire chefs worldwide.”
Meanwhile, in the list of 80 best countries, Italy is ranked 18th, a fall of three places from its previous ranking of 15 in 2018.
The survey says: “While Italy may make an ideal tourist destination, life in the country is more complicated. Italy is persistently plagued by organised crime and corruption. Slowing economic growth and high youth and female unemployment remain large concerns.”
This European nation with a population of 46.6 million remained the second choice of over 20,000 people that participated in the survey. “Cultural achievements, from the artistic mastery of Velazquez, Goya and Picasso to the globally renowned novel Don Quixote by Cervantes, and traditions like flamenco music and dance are a source of unity and national pride,” says the survey about Spain’s cultural influence.
Meanwhile, in the list of 80 best countries, Spain is ranked 20th, a fall of one spot form the 2018 ranking.
The survey says: “Continued growth built the nation’s tourism, housing and construction industries up into bubbles that eventually burst during the global financial crisis, throwing Spain into a severe economic recession in 2009. Efforts have been made to implement labour pension, health, tax and education reforms, but unemployment continues to beset about a quarter of the population.”
It is no surprise that a country that is among the oldest and the most influential civilisations in the world and is known to have propounded the concept of democracy has maintained its position at the third spot in the list.
Noting the country’s great legacy, the survey says: “Greek culture has forged distinctive identities in science, the arts, social sciences and cuisine. Greece gave birth to drama and the theatre, as well as disciplines such as political science.”
Meanwhile, in the list of 80 best countries, Greece is ranked 30th, slipping two positions down from its 2018 ranking.
The survey says: “Within the European Union, Greece has one of the highest unemployment rates – particularly for young adults – as well as an alarming risk of poverty for its citizens. The nation has also become a major crossroads for migrants, though many have faced border closures and deteriorating conditions at camps.”
France, which maintained its position at the fourth spot in this category, is not only a nation that is ancient and rich in cultural heritage; it is among the most powerful nations of today, too.
“It is difficult to overstate the influence France has on the world, both in the past and today. France is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its reach extends around the globe through science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture,” says the survey while ranking the nation, with a population of over 67 million, as the fourth best country in terms of heritage.
Meanwhile, in the list of 80 Best Countries, France is ranked 10th, slipping one spot down from its 2018 ranking.
The survey says: “France faces various domestic challenges, most notably how it confronts terrorism…The country also faces slowed economic growth and growing unemployment. Joblessness is especially hitting the country’s youth and young adults and the government has launched an effort to reform the labour market to help tackle high unemployment.”
A nation that houses over 129 million people and flaunts contrasts, with terrain encompassing arid lands and Caribbean coastlines and a society that has extremes of wealth and poverty, Mexico is the third-largest country in Latin America.
Once home of the Maya, Aztec and other ancient civilisations, Mexico is home to “the world’s largest population of Spanish speakers, and it has made a large cultural imprint in Latin America and beyond”, says the survey.
Meanwhile, in the list of 80 Best Countries, Mexico is ranked 35th, slipping four spots down from its 2018 ranking.
Summing up the overall situation, the survey says: “Mexico faces a range of domestic challenges, including low wages, income inequality and a lack of job opportunities for its indigenous population. Violent crime is a serious concern. Mexico has one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates, and deadly violence tied to drug cartels hit record levels in 2017.”
The country was holding the fifth position in this category in 2017 before Mexico made an entry, forcing it to stumble down.
“India is known for its historical architectural treasures, including the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb, the Sun Temple at Konarak and other vast temple complexes. But, modern India has also made its fair share of cultural contributions,” says the survey.
“The film industry based in Mumbai, nicknamed Bollywood, makes more feature-length films than any other nation in the world. The country has had three Booker Prize-winning authors since 1980 and has produced world-famous virtuosos,” it adds.
Meanwhile, in the list of 80 Best Countries, India is ranked 27th, slipping two spots down from its 2018 ranking.
The survey says: “India has a fast-growing, diverse economy with a large, skilled workforce. But, because of its population (an estimated 1.3 billion), it’s also one of the poorest countries in the world based on income and gross national product per capita.”