Canada ranks second best country in the world, while among nations leading disapproval of Donald Trump

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      Switzerland has been named the best country in the world for 2018, with Canada coming in as runner-up.

      Switzerland, thanks to high ratings in citizenship and business categories, retained its position at the top of 80 countries on the 2018 Best Countries ranking index. The results, based upon a global survey of 21,000 people, was released by the U.S. News and World Report on January 23.

      Canada also maintained its second place position. For a third year in a row, the Great White North also came first in the quality of life category, due to high ratings in education, health care, and public safety.

      Nordic countries topped categories such as Denmark being perceived as the best country for women and raising children, and Norway as the top country for citizenship, based on human rights, gender equality, and religious freedom.

      The overall top 10 countries are:

      1. Switzerland
      2. Canada
      3. Germany
      4. United Kingdom
      5. Japan
      6. Sweden
      7. Australia
      8. United States
      9. France
      10. Netherlands

      The U.S. has continued its slide on the overall index, dropping one spot to number eight. The survey analysts explain that this decrease is "fueled by the world's perceptions of the country becoming less progressive and trustworthy, more politically unstable, and a president who after just a year in office is far more unpopular than any other head of state or company CEO".

      Although the U.S. is still perceived as the most powerful nation in the world, the report authors point out that "America's perceived retreat from its traditional global leadership role is creating opportunities for other countries, particularly in the areas of 'soft power', arenas where economic and cultural influence drive opinions and policy-making".

      Soft-power countries include Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands, and Nordic countries.

      Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at the 2016 Toronto Pride parade
      Vividus/Getty Images

      In a comparison of approval ratings between heads of state and CEOs, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rated the highest of all national leaders, with a 52 percent approval rating. He tied with Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, and was a few percentage points behind the top ranked leader, Alphabet Inc. (Google) executive chairman Eric Schmidt (55 percent).  

      In comparison, among those who followed were Apple CEO Tim Cook (50 percent), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (47 percent), Germany's Angela Merkel (36 percent), France's Emmanuel Macron (34 percent), and the U.K.'s Theresa May (17 percent).

      At the bottom of the list were China's Xi Jingping (-1 percent), Russia's Vladimir Putin (-11 percent), the Phillipines' Rodrigo Duerte (-11 percent), and—ranked the lowest of all—U.S.A.'s Donald Trump (-33 percent).

      Delpixart/Getty Images

      Gallup poll results announced on January 18 revealed that approval of U.S. leadership in 134 countries in 2017 has sunk to a new low of only 30 percent, down 18 percentage points from 48 percent in the final year of President Barack Obama. The new rating is below George W. Bush's previous low of 34 percent.

      Belgium, Norway, and Portugal were among the countries leading the decline in approval, with drops of 40 percentage points or more.

      In Canada, approval of U.S. leadership plummeted 40 percent from 60 percent in 2016 to only 20 percent in 2017. In Mexico, approval plunged 44 percent from 44 percent in 2016 to a paltry 16 percent in 2017.

      Consequently, the average approval rating in the Americas now stands at 24 percent, half of what it was during the Obama administration's final year (49 percent).

      According to this poll, Germany has supplanted the U.S. as the top global power with an approval rating of 41 percent. The U.S. is now on par with China (31 percent) and only slightly ahead of Russia (27 percent).