The UN’s Human Development Report 2008/2009, done annually, ranks Norway numero uno because of the country's human development index ratings, which evaluates certain criteria, including educational factors, gender equality, and life expectancy (Norway’s is a not-so-impressive 74).
Australia comes in number two this year, followed by Iceland (last year's number one), Canada, and Ireland. The U.S. is relaxing at spot 13, one bump down from 2007/2008, with a life expectancy of 72—not too shabby considering Zimbabwe’s heartrending 38.
And, perhaps prophetically, we featured Norway as one of our Best New Trips in the World in our November issue (on newsstands October 20), complete with an adventure guide. —Michelle Faber; Photograph by Steve Casimiro