By: Kate Peregrina
The European Union has 28 member countries. And kinda like Captain Planet, when their powers combine, they make for a pretty great place to live.
But that doesn't mean each country is without its flaws. It's like the Planeteer who controlled the element of Heart. Sure, he helped make Captain Planet. But he was the worst at getting haircuts.
Anyway, here's what every European country is the worst at.
Austria: Most youth smokers
For whatever reason, young Austrian people seem to think smoking is still cool, so they're sucking down cigarettes. A LOT of cigarettes. Every day, 29.4% of Austrians age 15-24 inhale coffin nails.
Belgium: Worst traffic congestion
In the time it takes to drive through a Belgian city, you could probably eat a dozen waffles. In fact, the two most traffic-congested cities in the world, Brussels and Antwerp, are both in Belgium. You thought Houston and Atlanta were bad -- now try navigating all that in Dutch and French.
Bulgaria: Least freedom of the press
According to Reporters without Borders, Bulgaria has the least freedom of the press in the European Union, and it ranked 87th on a list of 179 countries in the world. We'd badmouth Bulgaria more, but nobody there is probably reading this anyway.
The country with the most freedom of the press in the world? Finland, of course.
Croatia: Least Erasmus participation
Since 2000, Croatia has had the least participation in the Erasmus, Europe's university exchange program, compared to its total population. The country is the most recent addition to the European Union, having officially joined in July 2013. It's also really easy to spot on a map because it's shaped like the first letter in it's name (a big C), which is way cooler than the Italian boot shape. Italy should be named Bootaly. That'd be way better.
Cyprus: Least 18-year-olds in school
What are 18 year olds in Cyprus doing? Well, not smoking as many cigarettes as their Austrian peers, or being killed by cars while cycling like the Dutch. But they're definitely not going to school as much, either. But if you were surrounded by that Mediterranean climate, you probably wouldn't want to be in school, either.
Czech Republic: Worst modern slavery haven
The movie Taken should have taken place in the Czech Republic, end of story.
Denmark: Least Zaras per Capita
Life in Denmark is pretty great. But there are only two Zara stores in the entire country. God forbid you'd have to shop somewhere else. But really, if you're after reasonably priced Spanish clothes, you're going to have to fight for them against other Danes -- in fact, you'll have to fight with about 2.8 million other Danes per store. That's a lot of Danes.
Estonia: Biggest gender pay gap
In Estonia, women make 27.3% less than their male counterparts. Even in a place thought of as being really macho, like Italy, the difference is only 5.8%. Women's wages in Estonia are more unfair than the rules of Monopoly.
Finland: Highest depression rate
Finland is really good at a lot of things--like that "whole freedom of the press" deal. But depression is pretty prevalent; if you were that far north, you'd probably get depressed by all the cold weather, too. Fortunately, Finland's suicide rate is no where near Lithuania's.
France: Lowest English proficiency
To no one's surprise, France has Europe's lowest English proficiency. Somewhere, a guy eating soft cheese and a baguette is saying, "I don't care" in French.
Germany: Lowest homeownership rate
Germans aren't particularly interested in owning their own homes... probably because they already own most of Spain and Greece.
Greece: Highest foreign debt
This one just edged out "Country with hairiest arms". As of the end of 2013, Greece's foreign debt was 130.3% of its GDP. Translation: that's really bad.
Hungary: Highest VAT (value added tax)
Hungary has the highest value added tax, with the standard rate a whopping 27%. So if you're Hungary (get it?) for the government to take a high percentage of the money you spend on consumer goods, this should be your new home.
Ireland: Highest rate of cystic fibrosis
Ireland has the highest rate of cystic fibrosis, at a rate of 1 case per 1,800 births. You can't really joke about something like that.
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