Which is the country you love the best?

SO THE readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine say that Australia is their favourite country in the world, followed narrowly by New Zealand. This is according to their readers' survey, published last week, detailing the favourite hotels, resorts, car rental agencies, airlines etc of that discerning kind of traveller who reads their magazine.

To quibble, I should say that what the survey really reveals is that people whose favourite country is Australia love it more fanatically than people whose favourite country is elsewhere (perhaps they are less discerning?). But I won't get bogged down in statistics. What catches my imagination is the very concept of a "top 25" list of countries.

Partly this is because the practice of rating countries according to their desirability as tourist commodities has such unfortunate connotations. We are all guilty: "Yeah, Greece was nice. But not as nice as my waterproof trekking boots." It is as though the unique combination of people, history, landscape, cuisine and climate that constitute a country are, in fact, the carefully nurtured formula of a committee of the local tourist board, originally set up in the seventh millennium BC. In the case of popular countries, it suggests that BSkyB might buy them - let that be a warning to Australia and New Zealand.

On the other hand, it makes a change from ranking countries according to their Gross Domestic Product. Germany and Japan fail to make the top 25 at all. Russia and China don't make it either, for all their population and land and nuclear weapons. Oddly enough, I am rather partial to all four of those unpopular giants, though this is nothing to do with their industrial might. Perhaps I just happen to like countries with long, horrible histories.

It is not that Conde Nast Traveller's list actually humiliates countries by publishing the bottom end of the table: the countries most disliked by travellers. If such a list were published, one assumes that the least fortunate countries in the world - Afghanistan, Algeria and Iraq spring to mind - would be near the top of it. Hardly fair game.

But even within the lucky top 25 best-loved countries, there are undoubtedly winners and losers. Australia and New Zealand may have pulled off an antipodean double, but what about the pre-election favourites such as France or the US?

Forget them. Thailand is our third favourite country. And of all the countries in Europe, clean but just-slightly-dull little Austria comes in highest, at number four, one spot ahead of South Africa. The US is nowhere, down at number 10, just behind Malaysia. Looking even further down the list, the former great powers of Europe have shrunk to the status of minnows: the UK is down to number 14, behind Zimbabwe and level with Ireland, while France, incredibly, does not even make the top 20.

What? France is less loved than, say, Argentina, which manages to sneak in at number 19? For some reason this gets my hackles up, which proves what a sensitive business rating countries can be. After all, I'm not even French, I just happen to live nearby. I can only assume that the people who selected France as their favourite country did not rave about it with the same mindless extravagance as those undiscerning beef-eaters who chose, say, Argentina.

Still, to each their taste. While travelling in China I discovered that the one country in the world which all Chinese particularly long to visit is Switzerland. For the sake of the Swiss, I hope they do not all travel at the same time.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London