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The most powerful countries on earth in 2022, ranked

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The US, China, and Russia were the planet’s most powerful countries in 2022, a year marked by war and turbulent geopolitics.

The rankings, published by US News and World Report, look at how much influence countries have, as well as their political, economic, and military power.

It complied the rankings as part of its annual “Best Countries” study, which evaluates 85 countries based on responses from 17,000 people.

These are the world’s 25 most powerful nations, according to the 2022 rankings:

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25. Belgium

Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium.Photolibrary / Getty Images Plus

US News describes Belgium as “a small, highly developed and urbanized country.”

It was a founding member of  the EU, the eurozone, the World Trade Organization, NATO, and the OECD, US News noted.

It is also home to the headquarters of NATO and EU institutions like the European Council, US News added.

It fell one place compared to last year’s ranking.

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24. Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands.George Pachantouris/Getty Images

US News noted that the country has been a policy pioneer, including being the first in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

It noted that the headquarters of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are in The Netherlands, and that the country was a founding member of the EU and NATO.

“The country also boasts the highest concentration of museums in the world,” it added.

It was ranked one place higher, at 23rd, in last year’s power ranking.

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23. Qatar

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2022.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2022.Vyacheslav Prokofyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

“Now rich in oil and natural gas, Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” US News said.

It also noted that the country is the 2022 World Cup host and is a member of major international alliances.

It said that Qatar has “positioned itself as a research hub, and many prominent American universities have established satellite campuses on the outskirts of Doha.”

But it also noted the country’s human-rights record, including the deaths of migrant workers.

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It fell one place compared to last year’s ranking.

22. Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden.
Stockholm, Sweden.Mistervlad/Shutterstock

US News said of Sweden that its “commitment to human rights, public service and sustainability have helped to make it a respected leader in international affairs.

“Health care, as well as a college education, are free, and its people boast one of the longest life expectancies in the world,” it added.

It also noted that Sweden is one of the biggest EU countries by landmass.

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Sweden rose four places compared to the 2021 ranking.

21. Brazil

Supporters of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro wave a Brazilian flag during a campaign rally.
Supporters of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro wave a Brazilian flag during a campaign rally.Fred Magno/Getty Images

US News described the South American country as “the giant of the continent – both in size and in population.”

It noted that Brazil has a big tourism industry, has rich natural resources, and is one of the world’s top coffee producers.

US News added that Brazil “now has one of the world’s largest economies in terms of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund.”

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It also cited the Amazon rainforest and the country’s membership in international bodies, but noted that it battles poverty and allegations of corruption.

Brazil fell two places compared to last year’s ranking, when it was 19th.

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20. Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland.Boxun Liu / EyeEm / Getty Images

US noted that while Switzerland is a small country, it is also one of the world’s wealthiest.

It also said that Switzerland’s “cultural contributions are disproportionate to its small size. Swiss citizens have won more Nobel Prizes and registered more patents per capita than many other nations.”

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Switzerland is also home to the headquarters of organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, US News noted.

The country’s private banking sector, low unemployment and “high-tech manufacturing industry” were also cited by US News.

Switzerland was three places lower in this year’s ranking compared to last year.

 

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19. Spain

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia in Barcelona, Spain.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia in Barcelona, Spain.Pol Albarrán/Getty Images

US News noted Spain’s EU, UN, NATO, WTO, and OECD membership, and that the country’s economy is recovering from a major decline during the 2008 financial crisis.

It also noted the country’s colonial history.

Spain fell one place compared to last year’s ranking.

18. Iran

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Iranian flag waving with cityscape on background in Tehran, Iran
Iranian flag in Tehran, IranGetty Images

US News noted that Iran “has one of the largest economies in the Middle East and one of the largest populations, with about 86 million people.”

It said that the country “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.”

Iran has around 10% of the world’s oil reserves but  and is a founder member of OPEC, and “also has significant agricultural, industrial and service sectors,” US News added.

The country also has a nuclear program, it noted.

17. Turkey

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President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding a press conference during NATO Summit at the IFEMA congress centre in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

US News noted that “the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development expects Turkey to be one of its fastest growing members in coming years.”

Turkey, as well as being a NATO member, is a founding member of the UN and OECD, US News added.

But it also said that Turkey faces terrorism and political instability.

Turkey fell three places compared to 2021, when it was ranked 14th.

 

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16. Australia

sydney australia
Getty Images/James D. Morgan

US News said Australia is “a wealthy nation with a market-based economy that has a comparatively high gross domestic product and per capita income” and noted its international collaboration through global organizations like the G20 and the Commonwealth.

 

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15. Italy

Tourists visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.
Tourists visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.vvoe/Shutterstock

US News noted Italy’s big cultural influence, saying its “historical cities, world-renowned cuisine and geographic beauty make it a popular destination for more than 40 million tourists each year.”

Italy’s economy is the fourth-largest in the Eurozone, it noted.

 

14. Ukraine

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zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the press in the town of Bucha on April 4, 2022.Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia this year, is a member of major international organizations like the UN and World Trade Organization, US News noted.

“Services, industry and agriculture are Ukraine’s three largest economic sectors,” US News said.

It noted Ukraine’s long history of conflict with Russia, which had been attacking Ukraine in the east before its invasion, and the country’s history of corruption.

Ukraine’s position has leaped in the rankings compared to last year, when it was ranked 33rd.

The country is now receiving huge political and military support from nations including the US, as well as the EU and NATO, and has been widely celebrated for its resistance to Russia.

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On the other hand, its population, cities and industries have been ravaged by the invasion, leaving huge losses that will likely take decades to rebuild.

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13. India

mumbai
Mumbai, India.Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images

US News said that India, “the world’s largest democracy,” has “a fast-growing, diverse economy with a large, skilled workforce.”

It noted that India is the second-most-populous country, and is also one of the world’s poorest.

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It said India has become “an important center of information technology services, business outsourcing services and software workers.”

India rose six places compared to last year, when it was ranked 19th.

12. Canada

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 summit in Germany in June 2022.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 summit in Germany in June 2022.AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

US News called Canada a “high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living,” and noted its strong political and trading links with the US.

“Canada ranks third in the world in proven oil reserves and is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer,” it said.

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It also noted that Canada is the world’s second-largest country in the world by mass, even though it is not densely populated, and is a member of NATO and other international alliances.

11. Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, which has made its economy boom, US News noted.

It also noted that Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the OPEC oil alliance, and is a member of the World Trade Organization and other bodies.

The country’s human-rights abuses means it frequently clashes with the West.

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US News also noted the country’s importance to Muslims as the home of Mecca, calling it “the giant of the Middle East.”

Saudi Arabia fell two places compared to last year, when it was ranked ninth.

10. Israel

yair lapid
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.Sebastian Scheiner/AP Images

US News said that for “its relatively small size, the country has played a large role in global affairs.”

Its strong economy and its significance for Jewish people around the world were also cited.

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The country has ongoing boundary disputes around the occupied Palestinian territories and is accused of human-rights abuses, US News noted.

It added that Israel “has a technologically advanced market economy with cut diamonds, high-technology equipment and pharmaceuticals among its major exports.”

It was ranked 11th in last year’s list.

9. United Arab Emirates

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The Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residences (L) are seen from above on February 8, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Dubai Marina.Jumana Jolie for Getty Images

US News noted how the UAE transformed with the discovery of oil in the 20th century.

“Today, the UAE’s per capita gross domestic product is on par with those of leading Western European nations, according to the CIA’s World Factbook,” it said.

“And the World Economic Forum has named the country the most competitive economy in the Arab world.”

US News also noted the popularity of the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi with tourists, despite its poor human-rights record.

The UAE rose one place from last year’s ranking.

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8. Japan

Tokyo
Tokyo, Japan.Jackyenjoyphotography/ Getty Images

US News described Japan as one of the world’s “most literate and technically advanced nations.”

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It also noted Japan’s economy is the world’s third-largest, and said Japan is “among the world’s largest producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment and steel.”

Japan fell two places compared to last year, when it was ranked sixth.

 

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7. France

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 21: French President Emmanuel Macron talks to the media at the end of the second day of an EU Summit in the Europa building, the EU Council headquarter on October 21, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. The European Council addressed Russia's escalating war of aggression against Ukraine, which is putting European and global peace and security at risk. The European Council is determined to counter disinformation aimed at negating our collective efforts to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine and rules-based international order. It reiterates that Russia bears the sole responsibility for the current energy and economic crises. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron.Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

US News said that France is a “wealthy, high-income nation” and that its global influence is “difficult to overstate.”

“France is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its reach extends around the globe through science, politics, economics and perhaps above all, culture,” US News said.

The country is also one of the most-visited countries in the world, and one of the biggest weapons exporters, it added.

 

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6. South Korea

Seoul
Seoul, South Korea.Time, Life, Enjoy…/ Getty Images

US News noted the country’s large, “high-tech, service-based economy,” adding that it has “one of the world’s largest gross national savings and reserves of foreign investment.”

South Korea rose compared to last year, when it was ranked eighth.

5. United Kingdom

City of London financial district: the Bank of England and Royal Exchange
City of London financial district: the Bank of England and Royal ExchangeJeff Overs / Contributor/Getty Images

US News described the UK as “a highly developed nation that exerts considerable international economic, political, scientific and cultural influence.”

It noted that the UK is part of the world’s political and trade alliances, but that its decision to leave the EU means “the country’s role on the global stage faces new questions.”

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US News cited London’s major role in the global financial system, and the UK’s “long history of major contributions to the arts and sciences.”

It said that the legacy of the British Empire still boost’s the UK’s global influence today.

4. Germany

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz at an EU summit in Brussels on December 15, 2022.
Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz at an EU summit in Brussels on December 15, 2022.AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

US News said Germany is the “most populous nation in the European Union” and “possesses one of the largest economies in the world and has seen its role in the international community grow steadily since reunification” in 1990.

It noted that Germany has one of the world’s biggest populations and “is one of the globe’s leading importers and exporters,” as well as having culturally significant figures and membership of global bodies.

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3. Russia

putin military training
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets soldiers during a visit at a military training centre outside the town of Ryazan on October 20, 2022.Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The way that Russia is perceived globally has been dented by its invasion of Ukraine, and Western backlash has included global sanctions on the country’s leaders and businesses.

But US News still noted how the country is “the world’s largest country by land mass” and how it has one of the world’s largest economies thanks to its oil and gas production.

It also noted how the Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is part of other major international groups including the G20.

 

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2. China

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the podium during the meeting between members of the standing committee of the Political Bureau of the 20th CPC Central Committee and Chinese and foreign journalists at The Great Hall of People on October 23, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, in October 2022.Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

US News noted China’s huge size, that its economy is the second-largest in the world, and the dominance of the ruling Communist Party.

The outlet said the country has domestic struggles that come with its growing population and noted its deepening inequality and poor human-rights record.

However, it said, the country is hugely influential, is part of large international organizations, and has nuclear weapons.

1. United States

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Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden.Susan Walsh/AP

The US stays on top of the ranking for 2022.

US News called it “the world’s most dominant economic and military power” and noted that its “cultural imprint spans the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television.”

It noted economic woes and unrest in the country, including racial equality protests after the murder of George Floyd.

US News also cited the “leading role” the US often takes in international organizations, such as the UN and NATO.

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