What the world's nations are best at, revealed in one map

From Argentina’s horse meat to Papua New Guinea’s diversity; from Nigeria's scrabble players to Paraguay's positivity — map pinpoints every nation to be the best at something

May Bulman
Thursday 08 December 2016 19:24 GMT

The world can seem like a gloomy place at times, and it can be easy to criticise countries for those things they do not seem to be getting right.

But every nation, it would seem, is the best at something.

Whether it be Lithuania’s speedy Wifi, Sweden’s high calibre of pop music or Malaysia’s little known penchant for top quality rubber gloves, they all have something to celebrate.

And now an intriguing new data map has endeavoured to pinpoint where each nation's strengths lie.

From Papua New Guinea’s diversity to Argentina’s excellent horse meat, data journalist and information designer David McCandless has researched which countries do what best, based on statistics gathered from sources across the internet.

The 'International Number Ones' map shows that top medical research goes to Israel, while Paraguay wins out for positivity; Morocco is the place to go for Argan oil, while Rwanda – perhaps surprisingly – is top for women in parliament.

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Chad is ranked highest for healthiest diets, while Belgium is top for cashless payments; UAE is top for men — meaning it has the most men per 100 women — while Latvia is ranked number one for most women per 100 men (118).

Mr McCandless told The Independent it took three weeks of solid work to complete the map, a process that required "roving news articles, rifling big databanks (UN, World Bank, CIA World Factbook) and doing specific Google searches."

He added: “Where there were multiple options for some countries, we chose the most interesting or entertaining possibility - and kept the alternatives in the datasheet.

"We tried to have really good quality sources for each entry. But we bent our own 'information is beautiful' rules a little to include the occasional lower quality secondary source just to try to hit our goal and finding something for every country. It’s meant as a light-hearted graphic."

According to the data, Nigeria has the best scrabble players, and Italy are top for kiwi fruit, while Brazil has a sweet tooth with best sugar, and Panama wins out for best retirement.

But it isn't all cause for celebration. Through clever colour-coding, the less favourable qualities are marked with a black ‘Nasty’ tag. The recipients of this tag may or may not surprise you.

The US is trumped as being best for spam emails, while Yemen’s gender inequality is classed above the rest; data breaches are most common in Australia, and Honduras — in perhaps the most morbid ranking — is the number one country for murder.

Saudi Arabia has the most arms imports, while the UK is top for billionaires; El Salvador has the least police and Iraq the highest oil wealth.

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In more uplifting news, LGBT tolerance is highest in Spain and - in what may be a surprise revelation - happiness is highest in Colombia. Indonesia has global pre-eminence in quality of coconuts and Greece, with its love for feta and halloumi — tops the rest of the globe for cheese eaters.

In a demonstration of its environmental efforts, Denmark has the best wind power, while Jordan deserves recognition for having the most refugees.

The country with the healthiest people is Singapore, and the world’s best haute cuisine – perhaps the most crucial ranking of them all – is awarded to sushi-loving Japan.

Mr McCandless said he found some surprises in his research. He said: "One anomaly was Bolivia being ranked as the best for Brazil Nuts.

"I also think it’s great that many great African nations like Uganda, Rwanda Zambia are hitting the leaderboards for business and enterpreneurism, and female representation in parliaments."

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