Fast Facts

This guide was written by Francine Carrel, Assistant Editor at Guides.Global (francine.carrel@guides.global).

The different lists will be updated at different times - I will try to make a note above each one when relevant! Our guides are updated as frequently as possible, but may be out of date.

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Countries by continent

Countries ranked by size (km2):

Updated May 2015

Source: CIA World Factbook


The world has a happy abundance of experts ranking countries on vital subjects using statistics, surveys and reports. Here are a few.

Countries ranked on the Corruption Perceptions Index:

Where '1' is the least corrupt.

This 2015 version of the report was released in January 2016

Source: Transparency International

Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index lists countries on "how corrupt their public sectors are seen to be".

Read more about Global Crime, Justice & Corruption here .

Countries ranked on the WJP Rule of Law Index:

Where '1' has the strongest/fairest justice system.

This 2016 version of the report was released in October 2016

Source: World Justice Project

Derived from internationally accepted standards, the World Justice Project’s definition of the rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

  1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
  4. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

Read more about Global Crime, Justice & Corruption here .

Countries ranked on the Ease of Doing Business Index:

Where '1' is the easiest country in which to do business.

The World Bank ranks countries on factors such as starting a business, construction permits, registering property and getting credit. You can find out more from this PDF.

These results come from the 2016 version of the Index.

Source: The World Bank

Read more about doing business internationally here.

Countries ranked by the Human Development Index:

Where '1' has the highest 'human development'.

This version of the index was released on 14 December 2015

Source: United Nations Development Programme

Human development, as set out by the United Nations, comprises three core areas: leading a long and healthy life, receiving a good education and enjoying a decent standard of living (a high income per capita).

It goes without saying that a country that scores highly in these areas will be a more pleasant place to live in than one that scores poorly.

Read more about human development here.


Countries ranked by permanent population:

Countries ranked by the median age of the population:

Median age is a very interesting statistic to look at. It varies hugely across the world.

A low median age generally means a high birth rate - and a high median age means a low birth rate.

An extreme at either end can be a symptom of, or indeed cause, problems within a country.

At the very bottom of our drop-down list you will see the first extreme: a very young population. This is a combination of a high birth rate and a high adult mortality rate. Many of the very lowest median age countries are affected by AIDS epidemics. Countries with a low median age can also be more violent, as a young population is - often - a lot more rowdy.

At the other end of the scale you have the older populations. These countries have low birth rates and low adult mortality rates. Although, generally, you'll be better off in a country with a very high median age than a very low one, aging populations do have their own problems. A high population of retired adults can put a strain on the economy and on healthcare services.

The global median age is currently (2015) 29.6 years. This is up from 24 years in 1990.

Median age data was collected from the CIA World Factbook.

Countries ranked by life expectancy at birth:

Unsurprisingly, a high life expectancy says good things about a country. It usually means that healthcare is high quality, nutrition is plentiful and there are no horrendous diseases tearing through the area. It can also indicate a manageable level of pollution and a clean, reliable water supply.

The global average life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years.

Countries ranked by the percentage of the population living in poverty:

This is one of the less exact indicators of a country. The information is difficult to get hold of; some of these percentages are from well over a decade ago and many countries are missing.

The definition of 'poverty' is also different depending on which country you ask, with richer countries generally setting the bar higher up the economic ladder.

This information came mainly from the CIA World Factbook .


Countries ranked by hospital beds per thousand people

Countries ranked by physicians/doctors per thousand people


Countries ranked by GDP (in US$)

Countries ranked by GDP per capita (in US$)

Countries ranked by annual GDP growth (%)

A high percentage of GDP growth generally means an improving economy. This doesn't always mean that everyone in the country is better off - it's more of a general indicator of increased prosperity.

Countries ranked by annual inflation (%)

Countries ranked by debt percentage of GDP

Countries ranked by hours worked per year

This list is taken from 2016 OECD data, so it only includes OECD member states.

As you can see by the productivity list, below, "hours worked" does not positively correlate with productivity. Basically, just because the people of a country routinely work 50+ hour weeks, it doesn't mean that country is going to be more successful than its neighbour with the more palatable 38 hour work week.

Source: OECD