RANKED: The 23 most powerful nations on Earth

Russian military parade soldiers

REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square May 9, 2014.

The United States has retained its position as the most powerful nation on Earth, despite declining respect for its leadership.

That’s according to U.S. News and World Report, which has released its annual “2017 Best Countries” study.

The media organisation evaluated 80 countries across a range of criteria, from cultural history to citizenship and quality of life.

Another key measure was “power,” which determined how economically and politically influential a country is and how strong its international alliances and military are.

More than 21,000 business leaders, informed elites, and general citizens were surveyed with the goal of discovering how nations are perceived on a global scale.

The US was perceived as the most powerful, followed closely by Russia, with the UK coming in fourth. Other countries to make the list include Pakistan, Turkey, and Israel.

Scroll down to see the 23 most powerful nations in the world.

23. Qatar — One of several Middle Eastern nations in the 23 most powerful nations, Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita thanks to its oil-rich surroundings. However, falling prices of oil have hit its economy, and income slowed in the past year.

22. Spain — “Ascension into the European Union in 1986 was a jump-start to the modernisation of Spain’s infrastructure, industry, and economic policy,” according to US News.

21. Netherlands — Home to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands plays an important role on the world stage.

20. Pakistan — Political instability, corruption, and struggles with extremism have hindered Pakistan’s standing in the power ranking. In turn, the nation’s growth has been stunted as its export-driven economy “falls short in attracting foreign investment,” according to US News.

19. Sweden — Despite militaristic roots, Sweden has decided against heavily investing in its armed forces in favour of a commitment to human rights and sustainability. Its approach to the wellbeing of its citizens has earned it respect on the global stage but could contribute to its lack of power.

18. Italy — Although Italy faced a tumultuous political year with the shock resignation of former Prime Minister Matteo de Renzi and the rebuilding of its government, the country has held onto its title as one of the most powerful nations while also boasting the third largest economy in the Eurozone.

17. Australia — Despite ranking 17th for its power and global influence, Australia’s highest place was in the quality of life category, where it came fourth.

16. India — For much of 2016, India, the world’s largest democracy, was also home to the world’s fastest-growing major economy. However, its recent cash crisis has been a blow to its economy, causing the country to lose 11 billionaires and 86% of its circulated cash.

Source: CNN Money

15. Switzerland — The small European nation was named the best place in the world to live. In terms of GDP per capita, it’s the 11th wealthiest nation and is extremely attractive to businesses thanks to its low corporate tax rates. The United Nations also has one of its main offices in the capital of Geneva.

14. Iran — Iran “has long been of interest to global powers because of its strategic location within the Middle East and its abundant supply of oil and other natural resources,” according to US News. The nation holds a whopping 9% of the world’s oil reserves.

13. Turkey — As the gateway between the Middle East and the European Union, the relationship between the two bodies is increasingly important on the global stage as conflict rages in nearby countries. In September, British Secretary of State Boris Johnson said Britain would support Turkey’s long-fought bid to join the EU, but an increasingly tense relationship between Turkey and several EU nations could hinder its progress.

Source: The Telegraph

12. Canada — Canada was named the second-best country in the world to live in by US News, but its power didn’t quite match, despite it being the largest trade partner of the United States.

11. South Korea — A contentious relationship with its isolated neighbour in the north means South Korea often receives military and political support from the world’s superpowers. It is one of the world’s largest reserves of foreign investment and is also the world’s sixth-largest exporter.

10. United Arab Emirates — The UAE is one of the world’s largest importers of arms and, after Saudi Arabia, has the second largest defence budget of any of the Arab states.

Source: Business Insider

9. Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves have allowed it to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the Middle East. The gulf state has long been viewed as a close ally of the US, UK, and other Western nations.

8. Israel — For a country with a population of just over eight million, Israel’s influence on the world stage is remarkably widespread. Despite ongoing conflict with neighbouring Palestine, the Jewish nation has a strong economy and a high level of education and per capita income for its citizens.

7. Japan — As one of the most technologically advanced nations, Japan boasts the world’s third-largest economy, having recovered from the 2011 tsunami that shattered its infrastructure and manufacturing.

6. France — With a GDP per capita of $42,384 (£34,581), France boasts one of the largest economies in Europe and is one of the world’s top exporters of weapons. Its influence extends around the world “through its science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture,” writes US News,

5. Germany — Often seen as the economic powerhouse of Europe, the continent’s most populous nation has seen its role on the world stage become increasingly important since reunification in 1990.

4. United Kingdom — “The United Kingdom is a highly developed nation that exerts considerable international economic, political, scientific and cultural influence,” writes US News. While it isn’t known how its exit from the European Union will affect the country’s standing, the nation seems to have so far withstood the shock of the referendum result.

3. China — The rise of China is quite remarkable. Home to 1.4 billion people, the country already has the world’s largest military, and experts predict it will be the world’s largest economy by 2050.

Source: Business Insider

2. Russia — Russia capitalised on its natural resources to become one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Its military spending as a percentage of its GDP continues to outstrip that of countries within NATO by a considerable distance. It currently spends 5.4% of its annual GDP on defence — the closest a NATO country comes by comparison is the United States, which spends just 3.3%.

1. United States — Nearly 75% of respondents said they lost “some respect” for US leadership after the presidential election, but the country is still ranked the most powerful. Its economic, political, cultural, and artistic influence shapes the world and a mammoth defence budget of around $600 (£494) billion and its leading economy put it at the top.

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