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Ireland is officially the 'best country in the world', says study

Good Country Index: Kenya and Nordic countries also ranked highly in the survey

Ireland is the best country in the world because it has made the greatest contributions to humanity and the planet, according to a new survey.

The results were revealed as part of the first ever Good Country Index, which ranks countries by combining 35 separate indicators from the United Nations, the World Bank and other international institutions.

The UK came seventh overall in the poll, but in a sign Britain's booming tech industry is reaping rewards, it topped the list for the best contribution to science and technology.

Meanwhile, war-torn Iraq, Libya and Vietnam ranked joint bottom of the survey.

While Ireland topped the list, the Nordic region was regarded to have made a collective contribution to humanity and the planet - outdoing any other part of the world.

The US came 21st in a ranking that was dragged down by poor scores on international peace and security.

Outside of western Europe and the English-speaking world, Costa Rica ranked the highest, which came in at 22nd place, while Chile took 24th place.

Kenya was named best African nation which has contributed most to the planet, at 26th place, and was the only country on the continent to break into the top 30.

Researchers said Kenya was an “inspiring example” which showed that making a meaningful contribution to society is “by no means the exclusive province of rich 'first-world' nations”.

Nevertheless, nine of the top 10 countries are in Western Europe, making it the "most good" part of the world.

To create the list, researchers considered the size of a country's economy, and then assessed its global contributions to science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, the planet and climate, prosperity and equality, and the health and well-being of humanity.

Respected policy adviser Simon Anholt, who designed the survey, said he hopes it will change the way countries do business by encouraging them to think about the global impact of their actions, rather than cut throat self-interest.

He said: “The idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple; to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away.

“Using a wide range of data from the UN and other international organisations, we've given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it's a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.”

He added that the survey was not intended to “name and shame” or make moral judgements about countries, but rather to recognise the importance of contributing to the greater good in a globalised society and spark debate about what the purpose of a country is.

“Do they exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet?” he asked.

“The debate is a critical one, because if the first answer is the correct one, we're all in deep trouble.”

“The whole world is connected as never before, yet we still treat countries as if each one was located on its own private planet,” Mr Anholt argued.

“It's time countries started thinking much harder about the international consequences of their actions; if they don't, the global challenges like climate change, poverty, economic crises, terrorism, drugs and pandemics will only get worse," he added.