And the Most Influential Countries Are …

What are the policies that drive trade, travel and investment, all of which affect a nation’s economy?

Behind a country’s wealth and success are the policies that create possibilities, the people that drive the effort and the history that shapes the environment and perspective.

The 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Countries ranking rates countries in terms of a number of qualitative characteristics that have the potential to drive trade, travel and investment and directly affect national economies.

Sixty nations were measured in the inaugural report according to factors that run the gamut, from human rights concerns, culture and entrepreneurship, to “pleasant climate.” The top five nations and the findings:

  1. Germany. The nation’s social market economy makes for open-market capitalism that also carries certain social service guarantees. Its economy is one of the world’s largest, and Germany is one of the globe’s leading importers and exporters. Services including industries such as telecommunications, health care and tourism are top contributors to the country’s economy. Industry and agriculture are other significant economic sectors.
  2. Canada. The nation’s high-tech industrial society makes for a high standard of living. Trade agreements in the 1980s and 1990s dramatically bolstered trade with the U.S., and now the two counties are each other’s largest trading partner. While the service sector is Canada’s biggest economic driver, the country is a significant exporter of energy, food and minerals. The nation ranks third in the world in proven oil reserves and is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer.
  3. U.K. London is a major international financial center and one of the most visited cities in the world. The banking and tourism industries are parts of a larger service sector that powers much of the nation’s economic growth. The industrial revolution began in the U.K., and manufacturing—led by the automobile and aerospace industries—is a declining though still significant part of the country’s economy.
  4. U.S. The economy is the world’s largest in terms of gross domestic product and the most technologically powerful. The country’s most significant exports are computers and electrical machinery, vehicles, chemical products, food, live animals and military equipment. The U.S. also has the world’s largest coal reserves and one of the most globally influential environments for arts and culture.
  5. Sweden. Heavily capitalistic economy, with a large percentage of spending on public service. Once well above the global average, tax rates have dipped, and the country features an advanced infrastructure and transportation network that helps with equal wealth distribution. Health care and college education are free, and its people boast one of the longest life expectancies in the world. Swedes donate about 1% of gross national product to humanitarian aid programs each year.