The USA Is the Greatest Country in the World in Cheese Production and 23 Other Categories

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
July 3 2012 7:18 PM

The USA Is Number One (in Cheese Production)!

America is still the best in the world in these 24 weird, surprising, and inspiring categories.

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Worker productivity. Norway’s workers contribute more productivity per hour, but they also take more vacations, according to a 2008 report. On a per-year basis, our sweat and sleeplessness pay off—for our employers, anyway.

Research universities. Starting with Harvard, MIT, and Yale, the United States has 13 of the top 20 in U.S. News’ global rankings.

Rollercoasters. With 658 coasters, some 40 of which loop the loop, the United States leads China in both quantity and quality.

Marine protected areas. The United States has more than 225 areas under protection. Is that better than just having one or two gigantic areas under protection? Perhaps not for the fish, but if nothing else, it reflects a serious effort to balance the interests of conservation and commerce.

Cats and dogs. Americans own millions more of both than the residents of any other country. Second-place Brazil has fewer than half as many dogs.

Legal immigrants. A whopping 35.5 million as of 2005. Our immigration system may be broken, but it’s not as broken as a lot of other countries’ immigration systems.

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Generosity. What American decline? The United States jumped from fifth place to first in the U.K.-based Charity Aid Foundation’s latest World Giving Index, which grades countries on three metrics: volunteering, helping strangers, and donating money.

Patriotism. Even if the facts don't always bear us out, we’re still convinced that our country is tops. In a World Values Survey, 77 percent of Americans reported being "very proud of their nationality," more than any other country polled. Well, technically, we were tied for first with Ireland. And the survey in question is from the 1990s. But how else could you explain all those people still singing along with Lee Greenwood every Fourth of July?

Media. We have the most newspapers, radios, television broadcast stations, and hours of television watched per day. Oops, maybe that last one isn’t so inspiring. But hey, it’s a holiday. Go ahead and enjoy the fireworks on your boob tube. In the land of the 47th-most-free, no one’s going to stop you.

Thanks to Natasha Geiling for research assistance.