Which Country Has the Most Powerful Passport? (Hint: It’s Not an American or European Country!)

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Good Magazine recently released an infographic (pictured below) ranking the most powerful passports in the world. The list is based on the number of countries a passport holder can travel to without a visa.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. passport is not the strongest. Based on the list, the United Kingdom, Finland, and Sweden can travel to 173 countries without a visa, versus the U.S.’s 172. To all you hardcore Americans, we didn’t lose by much so your egos are saved.

However, a recent article by Shanghaiist brings up an interesting point. As mentioned before, the list is based off of the amount of countries you can travel to visa-free, but it doesn’t take into account the size of these countries and how big their populations are. With that being said, Shanghaiist argues that the most powerful passport on earth is actually *drum roll* the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport.

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Compared to the countries on top of the list, a HKSAR passport only allows you to travel to 152 countries visa-free. However, these countries make up a total of 79.5 million square kilometers and include 3.8 billion of the world’s population. If you compared these figures to Finland and Sweden, who are at the top of Good Magazine’s list, the countries they have access to only make up 52 million square kilometers with 2.1 billion of the world’s population.

Why is this so you ask? After Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 (Hong Kong used to be owned by the U.K. in case any of you failed world history), the country was still able to keep their own separate passport. Because of that, HKSAR passport holders received a lot of the same privileges U.K passport holders carry. These privileges include free access to Canada, New Zealand, and the European Schengen area. Other perks include unlimited access to mainland China thanks to the “Home Return Permit,” as well as visa-free traveling to Russia, Kazakhstan (shoutout to Borat!), and Mongolia.

With that being said. Hong Kong citizens rejoice! Your passports kicks everyone’s asses!

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