Located in the heart of the Middle East, Iran captivates with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and profound cultural heritage. Beyond its historical allure, Iran boasts a dynamic economy fueled by oil and gas resources, a growing tech sector, and a burgeoning film industry that garners international acclaim. However, the country faces many challenges, such as persistent economic sanctions and political tensions, requiring innovative solutions and resilience. The country ranks relatively low in many indices, reflecting these ongoing struggles.

But, what do global rankings and indices have to say about Iran – its sustainability, country brand strength, and reputation?

Let’s take a closer look at: 

  • Iran’s soft power and country brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labour, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and well-being
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Iran’s soft power and country brand strength

How does Iran compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally?

In the Global Soft Power Index 2024 by Brand Finance, Iran secures the 62nd spot, above Jordan (63rd) and Bulgaria (64th). Iran’s score has grown by +1.80, and the position improved from 77th place in 2023.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, Iran secured 87th, the last position in the ranking, just behind Belarus (86th). Its strongest ranking is in the area of Power (18th).

Appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of Iran as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, Iran ranks 19th, behind Kazakhstan (18th) and Taiwan (17th). Worldwide, Iran ranks 59th.

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places Iran at 37th position in Asia, dropping by twelve positions since last year’s ranking. Iran ranks behind Bhutan (36th) and Iraq (35th). Worldwide, Iran ranks 139th.

How “good” is Iran?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Iran ranked 40h, trailing behind the Dominican Republic (39th) and Thailand (38th). Notably, Iran performs best in the subfactor of helping a stranger, with 67% of the adult population partaking in such activity. Iran experiences an improvement from the 48th position in the Caf World Giving Index 2022

In the Good Country Index, Iran currently holds the 138th overall position, remaining in 130+ position in the past few years. Iran experienced the most significant improvements in Health and Well-Being (from 83rd place in 2022 to 38th place in 2023) and the most significant drop in Planet and Climate (from 128th place in 2022 to 168th place in 2023).

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Iran ranked poorly, in the dark red (1-2 range) at 2.00 out of 10. This is a similar score to other neighbouring countries, such as Turkmenistan (1.70), Azerbaijan (2.80), and Iraq (2.90).

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index ranks Iran 147th, tying Bangladesh and Guinea.

Peace and happiness 

Is Iran a happy and safe place?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Iran 147th, dropping by one position since last year’s edition. Iran now sits just ahead of North Korea (149th) and Burkina Faso (150th). It falls at the very high end of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum, as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Iran is positioned 16th regionally.

The Institute for Economics & Peace ranks Iran within the high zone regarding the ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2024 Global Terrorism Index.

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2024, which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year average (2021–2023), ranks Iran (100th) behind Senegal (99th) and ahead of Azerbaijan (101th). Iran climbed by one position since 2023. It ranked 96th for happiness amongst the Youth (age below 30) and 103rd for happiness amongst the old (age 60 and above).

Sustainability performance 

How well does Iran perform in terms of environmentally sustainable action-taking?

The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) edition ranks Iran 133rd. The EPI analyses the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available, as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. Iran has experienced a change in score of positive 6.90 in the past ten years.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Iran 86th. The Report highlights that Iran still faces significant challenges in certain SDGs (SDG 5 Gender Equality, SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities, SDG 15 Life on Land and SDG 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions). Iran is experiencing downward trends in SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

Talent attraction and competitiveness 

What are the conditions for talent attraction and retention in Iran?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 places Iran in 99th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past five years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

Iran, classified as a lower-middle-income country within the Central and Southern Asia regional group, currently holds the 116th overall position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Iran ranks below 70th in all pillars, with the ATTRACT pillar presenting its biggest challenge (ranking 134th).

In terms of education excellence, Iran does not have any universities within the top 100 worldwide, according to the World University Rankings 2024. However, the Amirkabir University of Technology ranked 68th in the Asia University Rankings 2024.

Last updated in June 2024. Explore more country profiles here

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