The votes are in, America, and the best country in the world is ...
(Drum roll, please.)
It's Germany. Sorry, United States, you're fourth — right behind third-ranked Britain and second-ranked Canada. But, hey, America beat Sweden!
That's according to the inaugural "Best Countries" ranking from U.S. News & World Report, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and global brand consultants BAV Consulting. The ranking was officially unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
“Just as we have done with universities, hospitals and other institutions, our Best Countries portal will be a global homepage for stories and data to help citizens, business leaders and governments evaluate performance in a rapidly changing world,” Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News, said in a statement. The publication is known the world over for many of its rankings.
Germany secured its top spot for a number of reasons, its economy key among them. The country is also, as U.S. News notes in a country profile, home to low unemployment, popular around the world, known for its high-quality brands and adept at using soft power abroad. And U.S. News credits Germany's leadership for its global rise.
"Germany's ascendance as a world leader comes largely from the work of [Chancellor Angela] Merkel," Drew writes. "Only the third German since World War II to hold the chancellorship for a decade or more, Merkel has shown decisive leadership on several issues. That is a change. Traditionally, Germans are consensus seekers who have chosen multilateral strategies over acting in a singularized manner."
Naturally, the rankings prompted official responses from officials around the world.
The new project ranks 60 countries across 24 categories and is based on a survey of more than 16,000 people.
The United States ranked first in power and influence. Sweden scored the most top spots, ranking first for being the best country for citizenship, raising kids and green living. Other top rankings include Brazil for adventure; Luxembourg for opening a business; France for cultural influence; Germany for entrepreneurship; Canada for quality of life; Italy for heritage; and India for its up-and-coming economy. In the end, Germany scored highest overall.
The ranking relied on surveys from 16,248 people from 36 countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa. Of those, more than 8,000 were "informed elites" (college-educated, middle- or upper-class individuals). More than 4,500 were business leaders, defined as senior leaders in an organization or individuals who own small business that employ others. The rest belonged to the general public.
Each respondent was asked to share his or her perceptions on a random selection of 65 attributes for a random selection of countries. The attributes were each scored and grouped into nine broader categories: adventure, citizenship, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, heritage, movers, open for business, power and quality of life.
Scores in each category were then weighted based on correlation with widespread prosperity, measured using the International Monetary Fund's 2014 per capita gross domestic product purchasing power parity.
The 60 countries included were chosen based on other key business, economic and quality of life indicators.
This post has been updated.