Norway objectively seems like a pretty decent place. It has breathtakingly beautiful fjords, a school that wants everyone in Oslo to know your name, and bodybuilders with a sense of humor. What more could you possibly need?
Well, to be fair, only one of those might directly contribute to positive living, but it turns out Norway is at the forefront of several metrics when it comes to determining happiness and quality of life. The Human Development Index (HDI), released annually by the Unite Nations, is a measure of these basic needs across 188 of the world's countries, and its 2015 report has found Norway at the top of the list for the 12th year in a row.
The three main categories of human development focused on are a long and healthy lifestyle, access to knowledge, and decent standard of living. Norway scores at the top with 0.944, 0.935, and 0.930 in each respective category. That makes it the best country to live in for health, life expectancy, education, and high incomes.
The 188 countries scored are broken into four different categories: 1-49 are the "very high human development" group, 50-105 are the high group, 106-143 are the low, and 144-188 are the very low. That last category includes Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Eritrea, Central African Republic, and Niger at the very bottom. Niger has a 5.4 expected years of schooling (Australia, No. 2 overall, has the highest at 20.1), and Central African Republic's life expectancy is 50.7 years (Hong Kong, No. 12 overall, leads with 84.0).
Overall, it seems as though human development is improving around the word. This year's index shows that 2 billion people have moved out of the low categories in the last 25 years. Although 830 million people are still classified as "working poor," earning under $2 a day, the report's lead author Selim Jahan said, "Human process will accelerate when everyone who wants to work has the opportunity to do so under decent circumstance."
The short of it: quality of life isn't great everywhere, but it is getting better overall. Also, Norway is clearly a place to visit.
Cover image: Wikimedia