--   Quality of Life   --
According to the latest research by the United Nations, Norway remains the best place in the world to live by the so-called quality-of-life index.  In fact, Norway has been in the top spot on the U.N.'s Human Development Index list since 1995.
The Human Development Index ranks 177 countries through a composite measurement of life expectancy, education, adult literacy rates, school enrollments, GDP and per capita income — to reflect the best place to live.  As you can see to the right, this report is quite consistent with many other previously published reports.
Norway scores very high on education and GDP, but is slightly beaten on life expectancy by Japan, Sweden, and Iceland.
Although Norway is known to be an expensive place to live, the compensation comes in the form of very high salaries — the GDP per capita is $36,600 in terms of purchasing power parity.  (A similar survey by the Mercer consulting group earlier in 2004 showed Tokyo as a clear leader in expenses, followed by London, Moscow, Osaka and Hong Kong.  Norway's capitol, Oslo, ranked just 15th.)
Also this year, Sweden ranks second, with Canada not far behind in fourth spot, but far outranking the United States, which is left in the 8th spot.  Australia is the only southern hemisphere nation to rank in the top 10.  Also worth noticing; Japan in the 9th spot, is the only Asian nation in this elite group.
The lowest placed nations are the African states of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Sierra Leone.
The U.N. writes in its 2004 Human Development Report, released in
Brussels on July 16th 2004, that "cultural freedoms should be
embraced as basic human rights and necessities for the development of
increasingly diverse societies in the 21st century."
The top rankings of countries by the UN's Human Development Index of 2004:
8. United States
12. United Kingdom
18. New Zealand