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Why Portugal is considered the friendliest country in the world

There are many indexes to rank countries by different criteria and there’s a ranking for friendliest for ex-pats as well. The ranking is an attempt to measure how friendly people are in different countries to foreign residents. What makes a country friendly is different from what makes a country happy.

Making friends in foreign countries is normally one of the greatest priorities and struggles for ex-pats around the world. How closed people are in those countries to making new friends from the outside is often one of the biggest complaints of ex-pats. Keep in mind the survey is a generalization and there are many more things in real life to consider. Eg. some people will be more open to ex-pats from certain countries than others.

Not To Be Confused With The Happiness Index

The friendliness index should not be confused with the happiness index. In the happiness index, Nordic countries tend to be the happiest – with Finland polling as the happiest country in the world for a fifth time in a row according to World Happiness Report rankings.

Finland’s other Nordic countries, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland also all score very well on the measure. The happiness index uses healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support in times of trouble, low corruption, high social trust, generosity, and freedom to aid in making the ranking.

The friendliest ranking, on the other hand, is based on a survey that gauges the local population’s attitudes towards foreign residents. Many ex-pats do not find Nordic countries particularly welcoming.

The friendliness survey measured the friendly attitude toward ex-pats, ease of making local friends, and if ex-pats were likely to stay forever.

The Friendliest Countries In The World

The friendliest country in the world doesn’t need to be the happiest. As it turns out the happiest country in the world is Portugal with Taiwan coming in second. Note that ranks change year on year.

This is the first time that Portugal has claimed the top spot as the world’s friendliest country. The runners-up were Taiwan and Mexico and following that were Cambodia, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Oman, Colombia, Vietnam, and Canada.

Portugal got a score of 94% while Canada at the bottom of the top ten got 81%. For reference, the global average was 67%.

Least Friendly Countries On The List

On the other end of the spectrum, ex-pats can expect more of a frosty welcome in Switzerland, Austria, and Kuwait. While these three countries were reported to be the least friendly, Switzerland and Austria were still considerably more friendly than Kuwait.

It should be noted that this list was based on a survey and only measured attitudes to ex-pats. This does not mean that people in those countries are unfriendly to each other, that they are rude to ex-pats, that they are unhappy, or that ex-pats can’t make friends there.

Portugal – The Friendliest Country In The World

Portugal managed to climb nine places to take the top spot. So if one would like to become an ex-pat or to “slow travel” spending months in a destination at a time, consider moving to friendly Portugal.

It seems that Portugal is a country where the sunny weather matches the warm welcomes by the populous. Some of Portugal’s cities have even been described as “Heaven on Earth” – what more does one need?

Some 36% of respondents reported feeling a home right away – almost double the global average. Almost half (47%) of them answered that they would possibly stay in Portugal forever. A globally disproportionate amount of respondents reported that local residents make up a majority of their friends in the country (generally ex-pats are better friends with other ex-pats).


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