I was thinking about the countries in the world that are the best and the worst governed and I elaborated this very personal list. I did it quickly, as a kind of a game, and I may have forgotten certain countries, but the idea was to make a personal ranking that reflected my vision of the world.

I could spend a lot of time explaining why I put certain countries in certain places. I could also change my opinion. This is the same kind of thing as when you meet someone and ask them about their favorite movies, music, books, and places. All of this information only helps you to know a person better.

So here is my ranking, from best to worst

Founding Countries of the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, Japan.

The United States, South Korea.

Israel, Chile, and the new countries of the European Union.

China, Singapore.

European Countries that do not form a part of the European Union.

Costa Rica, Uruguay.

Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Russia, Turkey.

UAE, Lebanon, Bermuda, Bahamas.

Indonesia, Vietnam, Qatar.

Morocco, Tunesia, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia.

Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic.

Belarus, Kuwait, other ex-Soviet Republics, Nepal.

Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Kenya, the rest of the Caribbean.

Cuba, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Haiti.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Mauritania and the rest of the Muslim African countries.

North Korea.

Sub-Saharan African countries.

And this is my European Ranking

Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, Luxemburg and Finland.

The United Kingdom and Ireland.

Germany, France, Austria and Belgium.




Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia.

The Czech Republic.

Poland, Hungary.



Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Ukraine.


Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

piv on September 15, 2006  · 

How about Romania and Bulgaria?

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Pedro on September 15, 2006  · 

Dear Martin,

How can you be so precise in this ranking?. This is a very abstarct and subjective topic. Isn’t it?


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[censored] on September 15, 2006  · 

Hello Martin!

China has economic growth ok… But it is One of the worst states for censorship, with daily human right abuse (no free politcal party, no freedom of press, demonstration, association, unions,etc…). The torture is still used a lot, and it is so corrupt that if you have money you can buy everything (including judge, etc…). And furthermore the central government have lot of difficulty to control the local government.


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XL on September 16, 2006  · 

Piv, both countries must be quite down in the list, maybe Bulgaria goes a little bit over Rumania, but Since Simeon left the goverment…

I think tha Rumania will be the only country in the worls that returns an economic help from an international organism, because they don’t know what to do with them… I’m speacking about the help from the EU to develop the life of the farmers…

Anyway, this list is quite subjective as Martin said.

It’s more based in the quality of life than other think, and it’s true you have good quality of life when you have a good goverment, of course you have exceptions as Switzerland, that is more consequence of the swiss people than his governors…

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Jack on September 16, 2006  · 

I would be much more interested in reading what you consider a “well goverened” country to be,

Your criteria for judging a contry as well or poorly governed, however, is likely to be much more a reflection of your philosophy, character and integrity than your list.

All your list (subject to change) tells me about you is that you had several minutes to burn and started listing countries in order of preference.

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Ray on September 17, 2006  · 

It’s funny how Roumania gets so much attention. And it’s also funny how people know so much about how they do it there. I’m affraid there’s more to say about those people and I’m looking forward to the day when all this “Roumania should be on the bottom of the list” will be over. I’d check my arrogance level 😉

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Arturo Mesa on September 18, 2006  · 

Dear Martin
Although abstract I mostly agree with your ranking.

Why dont you make a ranking of the best countries where you would live?

I am sure that the comments will be very interesting.


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Larko on September 18, 2006  · 

May I just point out that there is a contradiction between your World and European rankings? In the World ranking you put the founding countries of EU on top but in the European ranking you have only Holland and Luxembourg on top while Germany, France, Belgium and Italy are on lower positions.

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XL on September 18, 2006  · 

ARTURO your idea sound’s good, but I’ll preffer cities or places more than countries.
Because for example US or Russia are so big that…

My first option Barcelona
And in second place I have a lot of candidates:
Shanghai, Hong Kong, Moscu, San Petersburg, Miami…

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Martin Varsavsky on September 18, 2006  · 


Best country in the world to live in for me, is Spain. Reasonably well governed, fast growing economy, great people and beautiful climate/geography.


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Martin Varsavsky on September 18, 2006  · 


And reading your comment and without knowing where you live something tells me that you must come from a country that somehow I don´t consider as well governed as you would like.

In any case this list is my own, subjective view of the best governed countries in the world and by that I mean the countries who make the largest group of citizens reasonably happy. For example countries in which the bottom 20% of the population does not have medical insurance could never make it to the top of this list because it´s hard to be happy knowing that if you get sick you can go bankrupt.


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jonpy on September 19, 2006  · 

Hi Martin,
In your opinion, China is best governed than China. As a criteria, you give the example of public health service.
Is it true for China and India ?
If not, what other criteria do you use to make your opinion ?

I think education and civil rights are also important to avoid bankruts.

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Jack on September 20, 2006  · 


FYI, I’m writing this from Chile in which I’ve been spending a lot of time. My “home” is Canada.

Without much knowlege of the various countries you’ve listed, I wouldn’t dare to argue about the rankings, however, I’d probably concede that the relative positions of Canada and Chile are appropriate.

What sparked my comment was your assertion: ” All of this information only helps you to know a person better”. I’d really like to know more about the way you think and the listing (without criteria) doesn’t contribute much to this.

How about writing an article or two on “what makes a contry well governed — according to MV”? That would be a real treat for me!


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Martin Varsavsky on September 22, 2006  · 

Thanks Jack. For me too. I need to find time to understand what exactly goes through my mind when I make these rankings.

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Tine on October 20, 2006  · 

Looks for me like your ranking very much correlates with employment percentage. Seems like people are happy workers (-;

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Anonymous on March 14, 2007  · 

I also think that cities might be a better thing to rank…

1. Barcelona
2. New York
3. San Francisco
5. Rome
6. Vancouver
7. Amsterdam
8. Tel Aviv
9. London

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Maryanne Barry on November 12, 2008  · 


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esther on April 16, 2009  · 

So, looking at the euro ranking, most of the countries in the top are very socialist countries.
Countries where everything is very well organized, but also, very high taxes (not CH and Lux), high cost of living, high standard of living but no one can ever get really rich. (and no ones is really poor)

I can hardly imagen but….
does that mean that that is your preferred way of governing a country?
By the way, that top exists of mostly my favorite countries.

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