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Egypt 74 of 100 in world ranking for best countries to live in.

CAIRO: Egypt is the 74th best country to live in, according to a recent ranking by an American news magazine.

Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and Australia took the top fours spots; while Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria and Burkina Faso finished last.

Based on five categories of national well-being - education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment - Newsweek, an American weekly magazine, ranked the world's best 100 countries. The data came from sources such as the World Bank, the CIA Factbook, and Freedom House, an independent freedom watchdog organization.

Newsweek set out to answer a question "that is at once simple and incredibly complex

- if you were born today, which country would provide you the very best opportunity to live a healthy, safe, reasonably prosperous, and upwardly mobile life?" said Rana Foroohar, head of the Newsweek project.

Egypt got its best ranking in economic dynamism (61st), education (62nd), and quality of life (66th). In health, however, it ranked 75th in the world.

Egypt's worst ranking was in its political environment (83rd) putting the country just ahead of Qatar, Ethiopia, and Azerbaijan.

"Many contradictions exist between Egyptian law and its implementation in the field of political and civil rights," Amira El-Azhary Sonbol, a Georgetown University professor, said in a recent Freedom House special report on Egypt. "While in theory, Egyptians can freely elect their representatives, in practice, men and women have very limited access to the country's political process and structure."

With a healthy life expectancy of 60 years, a 9.7 percent unemployment rate, and 18.46 percent living on less than $2 a day (based on numbers collected in 2005), Egypt is ahead of only Syria, Algeria and Yemen in the Arab world.

According to the figures used by Newsweek, the literacy rate in Egypt is 71.7 percent, with an average of 12 years of schooling.

Eleven of the 22 Arab countries featured on the list, with Kuwait in the lead (40th) followed by the United Arab Emirates (43rd) and Yemen coming in last (92nd). Other Arab countries, such as Bahrain, Iraq, Libya and Sudan did not make it to Newsweek's list.

The regional leader was Israel, which took the 22nd spot.

While Finland is ranked as the best country in education, as well as best overall, Sweden was found to be the most politically free nation. Norway offered the best quality of life for its citizens, Singapore the most economically dynamic environment, and Japan the world's healthiest culture.

The United States, Newsweek's home country, just missed the top 10, ranking 11th overall, and 26th in the world for both health and education.

"America hasn't recovered from the serious blows to its stature delivered by nearly a decade of policy debacles," Michael Hirsh, a Newsweek columnist, wrote in reacting to the rankings.

"As Obama never tires of reminding the American public - he inherited a Herculean task: the Augean-stable-size mess left behind by George W. Bush. First, there was the diversion of military resources and attention from Afghanistan to Iraq. - Then there was the long period of fiscal, regulatory, and financial recklessness that contributed to the worst-ever downturn since the Great Depression. Finally, Washington squandered its chance to lead on climate change."

However, Hirsh continued, when it comes to geopolitical influence, the United States still reigns supreme.

"Looking again at the Newsweek list, the 'best' countries tend to be small, homogenous, and fairly harmless: Finland (No. 1), Switzerland, Sweden," Hirsh said.

"All [are] wonderful places - but they are nations that have almost no geopolitical role to speak of and never will. They're just too tiny. Yet in the category of 'large'-read significant - countries, the United States still finishes handily ahead of China in every major index, including economic dynamism, education, health, and "political environment."

The ranking's creators hope that a list like this will help shed some light on global disparity and effective ways of improving quality of life.

"The list tells us some important things about the world. For starters, smaller is often better", said Foroohar. "While there's no denying the vitality of emerging-market giants like China or Brazil or Turkey, they are often bested by tiny nations like Slovenia or Estonia, according to the data, simply because it takes less effort for these countries to improve their overall levels of well-being".

"The most important thing that this exercise has reinforced is that there is no one model for national success - The winners are quite a varied group, and have found myriad ways to create vibrant, healthy, and (dare we say) happy societies," Foroohar said.

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Aug 19, 2010
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