Good Health Index
Good Country
Ireland's national flag flies above a statue on O'Connell Street in Dublin December 5, 2011.
Ireland: Best place in the world.REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Ireland is the best country in the world, according to a new survey.

The Good Country Index ranks the Republic top of 125 nations based on its contribution to humanity.

The UK was ranked seventh but recognised as the best country in the world for its role in technology and science.

The survey was created by policy advisor, Simon Anholt, using 35 separate indicators from the United Nations, the World Bank and other institutions across seven categories, such as health and well-being and planet and climate.

Ireland scored the highest overall after reaching the top 10 for its contributions to culture, world order, prosperity and equality, and health and well-being.

Finland and Switzerland came second and third, the US reached 21st place whereas Libya, Vietnam and war-torn Iraq were joint bottom.

Anholt said the idea of the Good Country Index is a "pretty simple" method of measuring what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away.

"Using a wide range of data from the UN and other international organisations, we've given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it's a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.

"It's important to explain that we are not making any moral judgements about countries. What I mean by a Good Country is something much simpler: it's a country that contributes to the greater good."

He said the index is one of a series of projects he is launching over the coming months and years with the intention to start a global debate about what countries really represent.

"Do they exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one, because if the first answer is the correct one, we're all in deep trouble," he added.

Costa Rica ranked the highest in the index, outside of western Europe and the English-speaking world, coming in at 22nd place.

Kenya was the best African nation achieving 26th place, with researchers citing the country as an "inspiring example" of how making a meaningful contribution to society is "by no means the exclusive province of rich 'first-world' nations".