Every country is No. 1 at something (even if it's pizza eating)
From being great at playing Scrabble to leading the world in medical research, these 9 countries have unique calling cards.
Hometown pride can take on many shapes, whether it's rooting for the local sports team or enjoying a native delicacy. A new chart, produced by the website Information is Beautiful, highlights the No. 1 thing that countries around the world are best known for. Some seem simple (Greece is full of cheese lovers), while others are a little surprising. (Who knew Germany has the "best passport"?) Several countries are known for something related to the internet – the U.S. for its plethora of spam emails and Lithuania for having the fastest Wi-Fi.
The data is crowdsourced online (which may explain some of its eccentricities) and compiled by U.K.-based journalist David McCandless. Below, we highlight nine of our favorites...
Norway / Pizza eaters
Per capita, the country of Norway consumes the most pizza – about 11 pies per person per year – of any nation on Earth. Norwegians mostly eat frozen pizzas, with smaller percentages going to restaurants and cooking fresh pizza at home. As far as pizza consumption goes, the U.S. came in second place with, by some estimates, 350 slices being consumed every second.
Israel / Medical research
The Mediterranean Sea can be seen from the coast of Netanya, Israel (Photo: vvvita/Shutterstock)
Israel's hospitals are discovering medical breakthroughs – from treatments for multiple sclerosis and cancer to finding cures for rare blood diseases. That's above and beyond the top-ranked institutions of higher education which are constantly producing research on medical advancements. Just last week, two robots at a Jerusalem hospital helped a man walk again. The tiny Mediterranean country is home to the most Wolf, Nobel and Lasker prizes per capita – those are three of the most esteemed prizes in the medical research field.
Sweden / Pop music
Think of Sweden and think of pop music, and you'll most likely conjure up images of the 1970s-era rock band ABBA. But the Nordic country is more than just the sweet soothing sounds of that bygone quartet. Dozens of pop groups now hail from Sweden, and the song-streaming service Spotify was dreamt up in Stockholm. In 2011 the nation of 9.5 million people produced music exports worth more than $150 million – the largest per capita in the world.
Singapore / Healthiest people
Singapore, a bustling yet small island nation that boasts breathtaking architecture, has been named the world's healthiest country in a ranking that culls data from the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Health Organization. The Southeast Asia country excelled in factors such as low tobacco use, high life expectancy, low infant mortality and low percentage of underweight children.
Mongolia / Velociraptors
No, there aren't any dinosaurs living in Mongolia now. (At least none that we're aware of.) The East Asian country is home to the most number of velociraptor fossils discovered. In the 1920s, the American Museum of Natural History sent expeditions to the Gobi desert region of Mongolia. During the second expedition, paleontologists found one of the first-ever-located nests of dinosaur eggs. Maybe Jurassic Park should've been located there instead of in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica / Wellbeing
And speaking of Costa Rica, the central American nation comes out on top in many wellbeing indexes. With a low carbon footprint and investment in education and healthcare, Costa Rica ranks high with wellbeing, life expectancy and social equality. Costa Rica sealed first place with 99% of its electricity coming from renewable sources – meaning its population uses a fraction of the resources used by other countries in the West.
Nigeria / Scrabble players
First, competitive scrabble is a thing. Second, did you know that Nigerians dominate the tournaments? Citizens of this African nation have a surprising strategy: By relentlessly using short words, this country of 500 languages has risen to dominate English-speaking Scrabble. Their "Moneyball"-like analytical revolution ditches the long and fancy words instead for humble five-letter plays. Nigeria boasts more top-200 Scrabble players than any other country in the world.
Paraguay / Positivity
For the first time in Gallup's 10-year history of global tracking, all of the top 10 countries with the highest Positive Experience Index scores are in Latin America, with Paraguay coming comfortably in first place. According to a recent poll, at least 70% laugh and smile a lot, experience enjoyment, are treated with respect and are well-rested. And if you don't live in Paraguay, there's no need to worry. Scientists have found that our brains, for the most part, are wired to be optimistic.
Canada / Donuts
Donuts make the world go round. (Photo: KasperKay/Shutterstock)
Canada produces about a billion donuts a year. We eat more here in the U.S., but with Canada's lower population, it actually has the most donut shops per capita of any country. It's no surprise that Tim Hortons, one of the largest donut chains in the world, is based there. Looking for donuts outside of the Great White North? Check out our list of 7 donuts worth traveling around the world to eat.
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