The Richest, Happiest, and Most Crime-Free Countries in the World Are...

By Erika Owen |

© Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

You spend a lot of money on vacation—it only make sense that you put a good amount of research into your destination. Here's something that might help: The Legatum Institute, a think-tank in London, recently released the results from its annual Global Prosperity Index. For those not familiar with the report, it breaks down the healthiest, richest, and most crime-free countries in the world by giving each country a score for eight different categories: Economy, Entrepreneurship & Opportunity, Governance, Education, Health, Safety & Security, Personal Freedom, and Social Capital.

To save you the time of digging through the full data collection—although it's highly recommended!—we pulled out five facts that may have you re-thinking your vacation plans for the year.

Norway is the Place to Be

This year, Norway tops the overall list. The Scandinavian country came in No. 4 for Economy, No. 5 for Entrepreneurship, No. 8 for Governance, No. 5 for Education, No. 4 for Health, No. 8 for Safety & Security, No. 3 for Personal Freedom, and No. 2 for Social Capital. What that means: You might like it so much, you'll want to live there.

The United States is Getting More Dangerous

The U.S. has never really topped the list for crime-free destinations, but it's dropped to 33rd from last year's rank of 31st on the Safety & Security sub-index. A lot of this violence is cited as state-sponsored political violence. To put it in perspective: Amnesty International reports that the United States has the same level of political violence as Saudi Arabia. 

And It's Not Just the United States...

The Index shows that there have been dramatic declines in all areas of the world (aside from Europe) in the Safety & Security sub-index. The Legatum Institute credits this to increased tension, violence, and displaced people.

Indonesia is Becoming Richer Faster Than Any Other Country

In the last seven years, Indonesia has rocketed 21 spots on the Prosperity Index, thanks to its healthy movement up the Economy and Entrepreneurship & Opportunity sub-indexes. Start-up costs have decreased from 26 percent of the gross national income per capita to 21.1 percent, meaning it's much less risky to start a new endeavor in the country than in years past. The percent of people happy with their living standards has also hopped from 63 percent to 71 percent, which may be the ultimate indicator that things are going well.

Canada is the Freest Country in the World

Aside from ranking No. 1 in the Personal Freedom sub-index, Canada is also the most tolerant country of immigrants—92 percent of citizens agree it's a great place for foreigners. The country was also ranked the fifth most-tolerant of ethnic minorities. Sounds like the perfect place for a visit, eh?

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