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Switzerland remains the best country in the world » Canada has moved up to the second spot » U.S. News 2020 Best Countries rankings

For Switzerland, the 2020 ranking is the the fourth consecutive yearhas been judged No. 1 by residents of 36 countries. Canada was chosen second, overtaking Japan in the U.S. News’ fifth annual survey.

The Best Countries report, produced from an annual global survey of more than 20,000 people in 36 countries including the United States, reflects increasingly negative views of the world and within countries. Nearly half of survey respondents say conditions around the world have worsened in the past year. Likewise, an increased percentage of people say the gap between the rich and poor has grown and that nationalism is increasing.

According to the ranking, here are the Top 25 Countries in the World

  1. Switzerland
  2. Canada
  3. Japan
  4. Germany
  5. Australia
  6. United Kingdom
  7. United States
  8. Sweden
  9. Netherlands
  10. Norway
  11. New Zealand
  12. France
  13. Denmark
  14. Finland
  15. China
  16. Singapore
  17. Italy
  18. Austria
  19. Spain
  20. South Korea
  21. Luxembourg
  22. United Arab Emirates
  23. Russia
  24. Portugal
  25. India

The Bottom 5 of the U.S. News 2020 Best Countries rankings are

  • Lebanon
  • Serbia
  • Oman
  • Belarus
  • Tunisia

See the full report.

 

 

Oskar Speck, the man who paddled a kayak from Germany to Australia starting in 1932, and Sandy Robson, the woman who recreated the adventure some 80 years later

Justin Housman, writing in The Adventure Journal »

In a span of seven years, he paddled a series of 15-foot kayaks more than 30,000 miles from the Danube River in Europe to the tropical shores of far northern Australia. Even better, when he first set out, he was “merely” planning to paddle to Cyprus for work, with no intention of traveling by kayak to the other side of the world. But the paddling proved irresistible and Speck did not stop once he reached Cyprus.

[…]

Speck was 25 years old when he set out on his incredible journey. He was an unemployed electrician living in Hamburg. Work was scarce and prospects were dim after the 1929 stock market crash ripped through Germany, so Speck decided to seek work in the copper mines of Cyprus. With no other means to get there, and as a proud member of a kayaking club since his youth, Speck decided to paddle his way to, hopefully, a job.

In May, 1932, Speck shoved off from banks of the Danube in a collapsible and very much not seaworthy 15-foot kayak, and began paddling south. He arrived in the Balkans several weeks later and, lulled to boredom by the languid waters of the Danube, Speck made for the Vardar River, where soon fierce rapids dashed his boat nearly to splinters. While awaiting repairs, winter set in and the Vardar froze over, locking Speck in place for months.

Read the whole article in The Adventure Journal »

In November 2016, Western Australian woman Sandy Robson (aged 48), recreated Speck’s adventure, completed in some 5 years, having visited 20 countries and paddled some 23,000 kilometres.

Japan and Singapore top 2019 list of world’s most powerful passports

Euan McKirdy and Maureen O’Hare at CNN write »

Japan and Singapore have held onto their position as the world’s most travel-friendly passports.

That’s the view of the Henley Passport Index, which periodically measures the access each country’s travel document affords.

Singapore and Japan’s passports have topped the rankings thanks to both documents offering access to 190 countries each.

South Korea rubs shoulders with Finland and Germany in second place, with citizens of all three countries able to access 188 jurisdictions around the world without a prior visa.

Finland has benefited from recent changes to Pakistan‘s formerly highly restrictive visa policy. Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Spain, Malta, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — but not, notably, the United States or the UK.

Read more of this article at CNN »

The best passports in 2019 are:

1. Japan, Singapore (190 destinations)
2. Finland, Germany, South Korea (188)
3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (187)
4. France, Spain, Sweden (186)
5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal (185)
6. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland (184)
7. Malta, Czech Republic (183)
8. New Zealand (182)
9. Australia, Lithuania, Slovakia (181)
10. Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia (180)
More at the Henley Passport Index

Notes

» Canada has been ranked 6th four years in a row. They were ranked 2nd in 2014, then dropped to 4th in 2015, and have been holding steady in 6th since 2016.

» The USA been on a steady decline since 2014 when they were ranked 1st. They dropped to 2nd in 2015, 4th in 2016, 5th in 2017 and 2018, and to 6th this year.

» The UK has been on a steady decline in the rankings, dropping from 1st in 2015, to 3rd in 2016, to 4th in 2017, to 5th in 2018, to 6th this year.

World’s Most Powerful Passports as of Q3 2019

The Henley Passport Index has released its third quarter ranking of the world’s most powerful passports in 2019.

The index is compiled from data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and measures global mobility based on visa-free access to destinations. It also uses data from the index’s 14-year history, “to show how travel mobility has changed over the past decade, looking at which passports have gained in strength and which have fallen behind.”

Japan and Singapore hold the world’s strongest passports, with Visa-free access to 189 destinations. South Korea dropped to second place, joining Germany and Finland with Visa-free access to 187 destinations.

The United Arab Emirates entered the top 20 index for the first time in the list’s 14-year-history, moving up an astonishing 41 spots. Other countries that climbed standings include Taiwan, which climbed 24 places over the past ten years and ranks 30th.

The USA and the UK each dropped to the lowest position they’ve held since 2010, sharing the sixth spot with Canada, Greece, Norway, Belgium and Ireland.

Pakistan now offers an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) to citizens of 50 countries, including Finland, Japan, Malta, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates — but not, notably, the USA or the UK.

Afghanistan is once again at the other end of the rankings, with its citizens needing a prior visa for all but 25 destinations worldwide.

Most Powerful Passports of Q3 2019:
1. Japan, Singapore (189 Destinations)
2. South Korea, Germany, Finland (187)
3. Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg (186)
4. France, Sweden, Spain (185)
5. Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland (184)
6. Canada, Norway, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, UK, US (183)
7. Malta (182)
8. Czechia (181)
9. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Lithuania (180)
10. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (179)

The Least Powerful Passports of Q3 2019:

101. Bangladesh, Eritrea, Iran, Lebanon, North Korea (39 Destinations)
102. Nepal (38)
103. Libya, Palestinian, Sudan (37)
104. Yemen (33)
105. Somalia (31)
106. Pakistan (30)
107. Syria (29)
108. Iraq (27)
109. Afghanistan (25)

Source: Henley Passport Index

Best Countries for Quality of Life

Through all phases of life, Canada and Scandinavian countries treat their citizens well, according to US News.

  1. Canada
  2. Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Switzerland
  6. Finland
  7. Australia
  8. Netherlands
  9. New Zealand
  10. Germany
  11. Belgium
  12. United Kingdom
  13. Japan
  14. Luxemburg
  15. Ireland
  16. France
  17. USA
  18. Singapore
  19. Portugal
  20. China
  21. Spain
  22. Italy
  23. South Korea
  24. Poland
  25. Czech Republic

More info at US News

Reference: Living 2.0

The Worlds Most Powerful Passports, as of January 2019

  1. Japan (190 countries can be visited without a visa)
  2. Singapore, South Korea (189)
  3. Germany, France (188)
  4. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden (187)
  5. Luxembourg, Spain (186)
  6. Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, U.K., U.S. (185)
  7. Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland (184)
  8. Czech Republic (183)
  9. Malta (182)
  10. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand (181)

London-based consulting firm Henley & Partners, using data from the International Air Transport Association, compiles this index of passports that allow visa-free travel.

In the past, this was an annual list, released every January. The list is now being updated every few months.

Since January 2018, Germany has been knocked out of top spot, while both the U,K. and U.S. passports have dropped one place in the rankings.

More at Lonely PlanetTraveller,  CNN

These passports offer the most travel freedom

The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without first obtaining a visa.

Henley & Partners released this press release today:

Japan has overtaken Singapore to claim the top spot on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, having gained visa-free access to Myanmar this month. Japan now enjoys visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations, compared to Singapore’s total of 189. The countries have been neck and neck since they both climbed to 1st place in February, pushing Germany down to 2nd place for the first time since 2014.

Germany has now fallen further to 3rd place, which it shares with South Korea and France. Their nationals enjoy visa-free access to 188 countries. France moved up a place last Friday when it gained visa-free access to Uzbekistan. Iraq and Afghanistan continues to sit at the bottom (106th) of the Henley Passport Index — based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association(IATA).

The US and the UK, both with 186 destinations, have slid down yet another spot — from 4th to 5th place — with neither having gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of 2018. With stagnant outbound visa activity compared to Asian high-performers, it seems unlikely they will regain the number 1 spot they jointly held in 2015 any time soon.

In general, the UAE has made the most remarkable ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide currently, and looking ahead, the most dramatic climb might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council.

Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver, but the country has nonetheless fallen from 46th to 47th place due to movements higher up the ranking. The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places, to 71st overall.

Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs all fall within the top 50 of the Henley Passport Index. Newcomer Moldova, which is due to launch its CBI program in November, has climbed 20 places since 2008. “The travel freedom that comes with a second passport is significant, while the economic and societal value that CBI programs generate for host countries can be transformative,” says Dr. Kälin.

The top countries are:

1. Japan (190 countries)

2. Singapore (189 countries)

3. Germany (188 countries)

4. (Tied) France, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Spain (187 countries)

5. (Tied) Norway, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, USA (186 countries)

6. (Tied) Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland (185 countries)

7. (Tied) Australia, Greece, Malta (183 countries)

8. (Tied) New Zealand, Czech Republic (182 countries)

9. Iceland (181 countries)

10. (Tied) Hungary, Slovenia, Malaysia (180 countries)

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