The Cayman Islands is the easiest nation in the world to make friends, learn the language, integrate into the community and fit into the culture.
That makes it the world’s friendliest country, according to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, which surveyed 5,339 expatriates in almost 100 countries between May and June.
“I am delighted to learn that the Cayman Islands has earned the top spot and international recognition as being the No. 1 friendliest country in the world,” said Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush.
“[A]nd we are also impressed that this latest accolade came about via our dynamic expatriate community.”
Those responding to the survey gave ratings on various factors including how kid friendly the country was, how the economy was faring and how it was overall. The main four categories of the survey, which was published in Forbes magazine, were “ability to befriend locals, success in learning the local language, capacity for integrating themselves into the community, and ease in which they fit into the new culture”.
“With over 126 nationalities represented in the Cayman Islands, the survey results speak volumes about the willingness of our resident population to readily welcome expat peers to comfortably integrate into our community,” Mr. Bush said.
“It is commendable that 75 per cent of the expatriate respondents to the poll acknowledge the unique welcoming spirit of our people, a distinction we reference as being ‘Caymankind,’ as part of their positive experiences.”
Australia was second place on the list of friendliest countries and the United Kingdom was third. The United States was in seventh place.
In 2011, the top three were New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. According to Forbes, this was in part due to the fact that more than half the expatriates were English speakers and that language was spoken widely in those countries. For the 2012 survey the language question was taken off the survey.
In the UK, 73 per cent of expats reported integration was easy, with 72 per cent saying the same for Australia.
According to the survey, the least friendly country for expats was India and the most challenging was Kuwait. Hong Kong topped the survey overall but it was not deemed a place that was easy to integrate with the community or to befriend locals.
Jane van der Bol of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association said that the Cayman Islands had always been noted for the friendly people.
“We’ve won previous accolades from tourism entities on being the friendliest island. To gain the exposure of being the Friendliest Country in the World … takes our Islands to the next level of recognition.
“We live in paradise and it becomes evident daily in our lives as we interact with the diverse backgrounds of expats and locals on our Islands. We are proud [of this accolade] and I am proud to call Cayman my home,” said the executive director of the association, who added that she was ‘very excited’ about the news.
Premier Bush added a note of hope that the friendliness described in the survey would continue to permeate local attitudes.
“Although the survey has concluded, I encourage all of us to continue to demonstrate the traits of Caymankindness in our work and personal lives as we embrace our new neighbours, coworkers and friends from other countries when they embark on a new life here,” he added.