The annual report, entitled Human Development Index, ranks 182 countries according to three major factors that influenced the quality of life that their citizens experience.
Quality of Life
The three factors that were used to help the UN properly rank each country was Standard of Living, Health, and Knowledge. The Standard of Living was determined by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. A person's life expectancy at birth was used to determine Health, whilst literacy rates and gross school enrollment ratios were used to calculate Knowledge.
Since Norway received the highest ratings for Standard of Living, Health and Knowledge, it was ranked the No.1 country to live in the World. The UN believes that, for the most part, Norway's high ratings are due to the late 1960s discovery of offshore oil and gas deposits.
Other winners, according to the Human Development Index, were Australia and Iceland coming in second and third, respectively.
The only drawback was that the data used to establish the UN's human development index was collected in 2007, which was a long time before the global economic crisis hit in 2008.
Therefore, the current living conditions in Iceland has changed dramatically since the original data was collected, simply because it was one of the country's that was hit pretty hard by the credit crunch.
The economic crises that began in 2008, proved exactly how deeply Iceland's economy depended on the banking sector, as seen by the collapse of many banks and other financial institutions. After Iceland's three major banks were nationalized, Iceland was forced to apply for international aid in an effort to keep the country going.
Even so, the Deputy Director of the Human Development Report Office, Eva Jespersen has stated that even though Iceland's currently reduced gross domestic product figure could ultimately "pull Iceland down" in 2010, the mere fact that it has the world's highest life expectancy rates coupled with a strong national commitment to education would possibly "cushion the decline to some degree".
Niger ranked the worst according to the Human Development Index, just below Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
There have been many occasions in history in which Niger has struggled to feed its citizens properly due to the many droughts that the country is prone to experiencing.
According to the Human Development Index, the life expectancy in Niger is 50 years. This is sadly, about 30 years shorter than the citizens of Norway. Another contrast between the best country to live in and the worst country to live in, is that for every $1 earned per person in Niger, $85 is earned per person in Norway.
The United Nations Development Program certainly emphasizes the severe disparities between rich and poor countries throughout the world today.
Afghanistan, which had been absent from the Human Development Index since 1996, was rated at 181 on the list and is the only Asian country in the bottom ten.
The good old US of A came in at number 13, down one spot from last year. The United Kingdom took number 21.
China was noted as making the biggest overall improvement in the quality of life for its citizens, by moving up 7 places to rank at number 92. This proves China's renewed commitment to improving the education of its citizens as well as their income levels and life expectancy.
France was another country whose movement to number 8 on the list proves their continued efforts to improve upon their citizen quality of life. Last year, France did not even make it to the top ten!
Other countries that moved up greatly on the list were Colombia and Peru who both moved up by five spaces to rank at number 77 and number 78 respectively.
The Human Development Index showed that the country with the poorest citizens was the Democratic Republic of Congo, in which the $298 per year was the average income per person.
More than half of all people living in the world's poorest 24 nations are believed to be illiterate, according to the index.
Liechtenstein, with its relatively small population of only 35,000 people, was shown to have the highest GDP per capita at $85,383.
Best 15 Countries:
13. United States
Worst 15 Countries:
180. Sierra Leone
179. Central African Republic
177. Burkina Faso
Photo Credit: alex-s