If you’re moving countries, you want to choose one that matches your worldview.

Liberal countries prioritise freedom and equality, and act to make those concepts a reality for their inhabitants. They actively work to fully accept and support everyone – to make you feel at home.

We’ll go into our methodology below, but let’s get to the results first. These are the nations which best reflect liberal values.

The Most Liberal Countries to Move to:

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Denmark
4. Finland
5. Iceland
6. New Zealand
7. Switzerland
8. Canada
9. Germany
10. Australia

Norway: 128 points

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friends sitting on Trolltunga in Norway

Norway is a liberal superstar

Scandinavian countries dominate the top of the table, starting with Norway’s liberal paradise. This will surprise very few people with their finger on the pulse – after all, Norway has been a pioneer of progress for decades.

Back in 1942, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt hailed the country’s resistance to its Nazi occupiers, saying: “If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway.

“If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.”

The country has come on leaps and bounds since then, promoting progressive social policies that have led to excellent levels of gender and LGBT equality, and the lowest amounts of undernourishment and unsafe water in the world.

Sweden: 124 points

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Sweden has long been a pioneer for the rights of all its citizens. Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised in 1944 – 23 years before England and Wales – and its citizens are some of the most tolerant around.

European Commission polling taken in 2019 found 98% of Swedes thought gay, lesbian, and bisexual people should have the same rights as straight people – the highest in the European Union (EU).

The country enjoys the best personal rights in the world (including freedom of expression and religion, and access to justice), 100% access to electricity, complete gender parity in secondary attainment, and air that is among the cleanest around.

However, it is – remarkably – the only country in the top seven without an elected female head of state.

Denmark: 123 points

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woman with reindeer in finland

Scandinavia is the most liberal region in the world by far

If every country followed Denmark’s lead, the future would look brighter – and much less pockmarked by catastrophic natural disasters.

The third Scandinavian nation in the top three ranks highest for fighting climate change, reducing pollution emissions, and protecting its species, according to Yale’s report.

Denmark helps its people in other ways too, for instance by providing the best-rated sanitation system, the most political power for the average citizen, and the least corruption globally.

The US may have coined the phrase, but Denmark is the true land of opportunity.

Finland: 113 points

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Finland has been the happiest nation on Earth for the past three consecutive years, and actually increased its lead over the competition in 2020.

The country has the lowest child mortality rate in the world, relatively low levels of air pollution, and the best inclusiveness ratings of any nation – apart from in one specific area.

Finland would’ve come joint-sixth in the LGBT-friendly category, and received 17.5 points – enough to win the title of most liberal country – but we decided against awarding them any points.

The country has not yet abolished a law forcing transgender people to be sterilised before they can change their legal gender, and until it does, it cannot be called LGBT-friendly.

Iceland: 105.5 points

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If you’re looking for gender equality, Iceland is the place for you.

In the World Economic Forum’s rankings, it now leads second-placed Norway by 10 percentage points, with a rating that’s around four times higher than the global average.

The country, which was the first to elect a female president in 1980, is also currently led – as seven of the top 10 are – by a woman: Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Under Jakobsdóttir, who is head of the eco-socialist Left-Green Movement, Iceland has the lowest rates of maternal mortality and discrimination and violence against minorities in the world – and an incredible 99% of people have access to the internet.

New Zealand: 103.5 points

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woman and daughter on Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

New Zealand is a perfect place to raise kids

The most liberal nation outside of Scandinavia is also the fourth-safest country in the world, and joint-best for gender equality in educational attainment.

New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is the third-happiest city on Earth, and the country comes in the top five for respecting its people's personal rights, providing shelter, and making access to information available.

When you leave the top five, each country seems to have at least one area it’s relatively weaker in, and the environment is that category for New Zealand – but the country nevertheless has the sixth-best air quality in the world.

Switzerland: 94 points

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Central Europe’s most liberal country ranks highly for its environmental performance and overall happiness.

Switzerland’s health and wellness score is also the second-best in the world, helped by its unmatched access to essential services and the lowest rate of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases on Earth.

The nation lets itself down when it comes to LGBT rights, coming 44th in the LGBTQ+ Danger Index, and failing to make the Nomadic Boys’ top 25 countries.

However, a bill to legalise same-sex marriage – along with access to fertility treatments for lesbian couples – has advanced through the Swiss parliament during 2020, and should be passed soon. When this happens, same-sex adoption will automatically become law too.

Canada: 90.5 points

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The most LGBT-friendly nation in the world is the only entrant in our top 10 from the Americas. It finished 24 places above its neighbour, the US.

Canada may have a relatively low gender equality ranking overall, but it comes fourth for equality of political power by gender, and women make up 48% of the workforce – the joint-highest in the world.

The country also maintains its people's personal freedoms better than all but eight other nations, and is the fifth-most inclusive nation out there.

100% of Canadians attend secondary school, with – logically – full gender parity in this area.

Germany: 83.5 points

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Germany is excellent at protecting your personal rights

Europe’s economic powerhouse achieved its ninth-place finish by being solid in all areas, but if we dig deeper into our criteria, we can identify some specific advantages of living in Germany.

The country is fifth in the world for access to advanced education, and sixth for access to quality healthcare – which are two extremely important parts of any successful liberal nation.

And Germany provides a high level of basic medical care and nutrition to its citizens too, with the country placing third worldwide in this category.

It’s also the second-best country for protecting people’s personal rights, and has made progress towards gender equality under Chancellor Angela Merkel, with women now constituting 40% of ministers.

Australia: 77 points

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If you want to enjoy the world’s second-best air quality and second-best access to higher education at the same time, Australia is the nation for you.

A country that tries to build a nurturing environment for its citizens will also engender respect towards their personal safety and personal rights, which Australia does, coming in the top six on both counts.

You’ll also benefit from the second-best access to essential health services, which makes life much easier for expats and home-grown citizens alike.

However, the country is 44th in the world for gender equality, so if there’s one reason to hesitate before moving to Australia, it’s that.

Our methodology

As mentioned above, we’ve prioritised freedom and equality, as any successful liberal country should.

In order to see which nations are fighting for equality for all their peoples, we looked at LGBT and gender equality rankings, courtesy of the LGBTQ+ Danger Index, Nomadic Boys’ annual ratings, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

The environment is also a key battlefront in the fight to create a liberal utopia, as climate change disproportionately affects deprived people. We’ve used Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index 2020 to rank this category.

And in a truly liberal country, everyone should have the same opportunities as everyone else. That means basic human needs like nutrition and shelter have to be met, healthcare and education is prioritised and widely available, and people have freedom of expression.

We’ve used data from the 2020 Social Progress Index, a yearly ranking system that judges countries against these principles. We’ve given this rating double the value of the other categories, since it covers so many areas of life.

If a country does well in all of these categories, it should result in widespread happiness – we’ve also been able to turn this into data, thanks to the 2020 World Happiness Report.

As you've seen above, under each country’s name, we’ve included tables that show its world ranking in all of these categories, as well as point scores.

These are out of 150, with a country getting 25 points in a category if it is the best in the world, 24 if it’s the second-best, and so on – apart from in the ‘human needs’ category, which is out of 50. If a nation doesn’t rank in the top 25 in a category, it gets zero.

The least liberal countries

The less liberal a country is, the less data is available for it, since authoritarian regimes are generally wary about negative information escaping their nation. This means countries like North Korea and Syria aren’t in most global rankings, making them difficult to quantify.

However, we’ve still managed to glean enough information from the aforementioned sources and the latest Democracy Index to draw some conclusions.

Here are the countries we don’t recommend you move to if you want to see liberal values brought to life.

1. Chad
2. Central African Republic
3. Yemen
4. Afghanistan
5. Democratic Republic of the Congo
6. South Sudan
7. Syria
8. Pakistan
9. Saudi Arabia
10. Iran