In South America Brazil loses to Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica and Argentina when the matter is prosperity. Uruguay tops the 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index in that part of the world and is only second to Costa Rica in Latin America.
However Latin America's best placed countries in the index which defines prosperity as wealth and well being are in the thirties out of a total list of 104.
Legatum Prosperity points out that the most prosperous nations in the world are not necessarily those that have only a high GDP, "but are those that also have happy, healthy, and free citizens".
According to the ranking Costa Rica figures in position 32, Uruguay, 33, Chile, 36 and Argentina, 38. Others in Latin America include Brazil, 41; Panama, 42; Mexico, 43; Dominican Republic, 54; Paraguay, 57; El Salvador, 60; Peru, 64; Colombia, 65; Honduras, 66 and Guatemala, 67. Bottom of the region's list are Ecuador, 71; Nicaragua, 72; Bolivia, 73 and Venezuela, 74.
Finland tops this year's Index, with the United States ranking ninth, ahead of large European nations such as Britain, Germany and France, which all still make the top 20. Finland is narrowly ahead of Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark. Zimbabwe ranks last, following Yemen and Sudan.
Behind Denmark come Norway, Australia, Canada, Holland, US and New Zealand, followed by Ireland, UK; Belgium, Germany, Austria, Japan, France, Hong Kong, Spain and Slovenia.
The Legatum Prosperity Index accounts for 90% of the world's population and is based on years of statistical analysis and research of objective data and subjective responses to surveys. The data comprises 79 different variables organized into nine sub indexes – each identified as a foundation of long-term prosperity.
The nine sub-indexes are: Economic Fundamentals – a growing, sound economy that provides opportunities for wealth creation; Entrepreneurship and Innovation – an environment friendly to new enterprises and the commercialization of new ideas; Democratic Institutions – transparent and accountable governing institutions that promote economic growth; Education – an accessible, high-quality educational system that fosters human development; Health – the physical well being of the populace; Safety and Security – a safe environment in which people can pursue opportunity; Governance – an honest and effective government that preserves order and encourages productive citizenship; Personal Freedom – the degree to which individuals can choose the course of their lives; Social Capital – trustworthiness in relationships and strong communities.