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I had made a comment to Anders some time ago, that my VW Jetta seems to want to go around 140 k/h, and he agreed...his VW feels the same. He said it was because that is approximately the speed you drive on the autobahn and the cars seem to be engineered to that comfort zone. :)

During our road trip through Germany, I got to drive a couple of times on the autobahn, and I'll tell you what: I loved it. Drivers in Germany drive like you're SUPPOSED TO DRIVE. They go fast, they stay to the right except when passing and they pay attention to what they're doing. We never saw any accidents during our two days of driving, though I know they happen, and are often speed-related. According to Wikipedia, between 1970 and 2010, overall German road fatalities decreased by almost 80% from 19,193 to 3,648; over the same time period, autobahn deaths halved from 945 to 430 deaths. Statistics for 2013 show total German traffic deaths had declined to the lowest count ever recorded: 3340.

It got me thinking about things that work right in the country you live in. If you could take the best things about every country and put them together, what would the ideal country look like? Other people and sites on the Internet have, of course, tried to quantify and answer this question. Some of the things I found while Googling included:

Japan: longest life expectancy
Ireland: most globalized country
France: lowest obesity rate
Denmark: least corruption
Ireland: fewest divorces
UK: lowest homicide rate
Estonia: best air quality
Iceland: most peaceful
India: largest democracy
South Korea: lowest long-term unemployment
Canada: highest amount of opportunities
Bahamas: highest degree of economic and personal freedom
Belgium: most recycling
Switzerland: best quality of life
Sweden: most equal income distribution
China: most books published per year
Czech Republic: longest parental leave policy
USA: largest consumer market
Australia: highest voter turnout (because it's mandatory, but still)

I found this, too, which was fascinating: The Good Country
(Sweden was ranked 6th (all 4 Scandinavian countries were in the top 10), the US was ranked 21st, out of 125 countries)

Things that Sweden is good at
recycling, vacation time, Internet access, early adoption of technology, religious freedom, paid parental leave, school subsidies, speaking English, socialized healthcare, equality, free speech and press, inventing things, work/life balance, high standard of living, subtitles, dairy products, environmental consciousness, , consensus, free "mother tongue" language classes for children, making music

Things that America is good at
customer service, convenience, opening hours, work ethics, friendliness, free speech and press, religious freedom, volunteering, consumer choices, organized sports, iced drinks, high standard of living, meat, national parks, clean water, efficient infrastructure, individualism, political stability, inventing things, making movies

According to The Good Country, Ireland is best. According to Lifestyle9, Denmark is the best country to live in. Switzerland, as mentioned above, is ranked as having the best quality of life. Costa Rica placed first in the Happy Planet Index. Finland is the most stable country in the world, according to the Fragile States Index.

I was happy in the US when I lived there, though I suspect it would suffer by comparison now after nearly 20 years in Sweden. When I compare all the different indexes that try to quantify happiness, quality of life, economic and political, Sweden is almost always in the top ten. Despite its flaws and faults, which all countries have, Sweden is, overall, a pretty great place to live. Even if I can't drive 140 on the highway.
mood: thoughtful
music: Lenka—The Long Way Home


Even if I can't drive 140 on the highway. well, you CAN and a lot of people do. Just don't get caught :)

The speed on the autobahn scares me a bit, along with those dreadful chain collisions they have that seem to claim a lot of lives. Those road death stats were rather sobering reading.

I was very happy living in Australia and I often see various indexes of "the best place to live" variety and we seem to score fairly well in most of them, so it confirms my impressiopn of life there was not far from the truth.

I also like living in Sweden. Sure there are things that get up my nose (as there were in Australia) and no place is perfect, but I find I cope really well here as well. Perhaps I'm a gypsy at heart.

Road death stats anywhere are sobering reading, for sure. Part of why I DON'T drive 140 :)

I think of Australia, and Canada, and Sweden as similarly good places to live. :) Australia probably wins in the weather department, though!

I'm surprised by the Czech Republic stat, now I'll have to go check it out. I would have thought Sweden had that one locked up! The US is nearly dead last on the parental leave score, as we all know too well.

I am really starting to despair for my country. Probably if I stayed off the internet I'd be able to maintain a rosier glow about things but ... eesh. It's hard not to be cynical.

Well, now, of course when I try to find the link to the page that gave me that info, I can't find it...I think I'd better change it to *longest* and not *best*, since that is actually what it is. :)

on the news this morning was the fact that more people are leaving sweden now than in the famine years of the late 1800s. more than 50,000 a year. and most of them relocate to the states and the UK! huh...

I hadn't seen that! Crazy!! I bet a lot of them come back! :D

From Megsie

I love the optimism in this post. It is so much easier to see what is wrong with one's takes effort to focus on the good! I guess my go to answer for the US is that little "freedom" thing. I know we are not as free as we think we are, and if you have the right skin tones and more money than you have more of it than others, but freedom is not to be taken for granted. My students write about their lives when they lived in their home countries, it is hard to read.

I had to google what 140 kmh was in mph: 87! HOLY CATS! You are a speed-demon! I like 70 or 75 myself. That gets you in trouble here though!

I think Sweden sounds like a great place to live. You seem happy!

Re: From Megsie

There were plenty of sites listing what is wrong with the world, and the lists I found were kind of appalling if you read them the wrong way up. But there IS good stuff out there. Some countries work hard at getting it right. :)

And being a speed demon gets you in trouble here, too. I have to restrain myself all the time! :D


I often tell people here that Sweden and Germany are really great places to live- using examples about parental leave and health care. I personally don't think all the consumerism here is positive. You would be happy about that iced drinks made the list - I've given them up after long stretches in Germany without...better for our digestion. Love, Lizardmom

I don't think all the consumerism there is positive either, but customer service and long opening hours are something I miss! And since I made those lists, of course iced drinks would be included!

I love these facts! Interesting reading!

It was fun to research and write. So much interesting info out there!

I think the current state of politics being what it is, you would find American intolerance intolerable if you moved back. As e11en notes above, it's hard not to be cynical, these days.

I love my country. I'm just not so sure about my nation...

I like your last line... it's true. I can totally understand the difference between one's country and one's nation!

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