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LIVING IN GERMANY

Germany ranked ‘third best country in the world’

Germany has scored a top three spot in a ranking of countries across the world. Here's why.

Germany ranked 'third best country in the world'
Even amid the pandemic, cyclists make the best of spring in Dresden on Sunday. Photo: DPA

For the first time in four years, Switzerland has lost its spot as the number one country in the US News and World Report Best Countries. Falling to number four, it left room for a big shakeup in the top three spots.

And, for the first time ever, Canada took first place, closely followed by Japan and then Germany. All three countries jumped up  one place from last year’s ranking. 

According to US News, this dramatic shift reflects a world changed by Covid-19.

This year more than 17,000 people from 36 different countries participated in the digital survey. They were asked to rank 78 countries according to different qualities, including things like “heritage”, “power” and “quality of life”. 

This year the survey introduced two new categories: “agility” and “social purpose”.

Germany narrowly misses first spot for entrepreneurship 

Though entrepreneurship is Germany’s highest-scoring category, Japan has swooped into first place this year. 

Entrepreneurship is measured using 11 different subcategories. For example, the German population is seen as highly educated, and deeply connected to the rest of the world. 

READ ALSO: Germany named as best European country for startups for second year running

However, in categories like innovation and access to capital, the country is seen as lagging behind Japan. The general impression seems to be that running a German business is very productive – but starting a business is not.  

This is also reflected in the Best Countries ‘Open for Business’ category, which measures the ease of founding and operating a business, where Germany only ranks 18th. 

Though Germany was voted as “unbureaucratic”, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, an unfavourable tax environment and high manufacturing costs make running a business an expensive undertaking.

Germany the gymnast: praised for new ‘agility’ category 

Best Countries’ new category measures how well countries “adapt and respond to whatever obstacles they face,” according to the report. 

The category was created in response to an eventful year. From the pandemic to BLM protests, and increasing concerns over social justice and climate change, U.S. News sees governments under mounting pressure to act. 

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’: New project to uncover racism in everyday life

That’s why they’ve decided to make agility the most important category this year, accounting for over 14 percent of the overall ranking. 

Germany comes in at 4th place for this category. 

It scored a whopping 100 points for the sub-category responsiveness, probably thanks to the quick actions taken at the start of the pandemic in 2020. It’s also seen as particularly progressive and modern, according to the ranking. 

Unsexy but powerful 

As in previous years Germany’s lowest scores are in ‘adventure’. This category asks how attractive the country is for tourists, and the answer is: not very. 

Just as in 2020, Brazil, Italy and Spain are considered the most glamorous travel destinations. 

Meanwhile Germany scores a miserly 12 points out of a hundred in the subcategory “fun”, and worse than this: just one lonely point for the category “sexy”. 

While it’s not the go-to destination for holiday-makers, it’s an all the more attractive destination for diplomacy. The perception of Germany is of a powerful nation with blooming international alliances. 

It’s also considered a global leader, both politically and economically influential around the world. 

Overall, it comes in at number four in the power category, closely following Russia, China and the US.

US News organises the annual Best Countries ranking in partnership with BAV Group, VMLY&R and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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