The 10 most innovative countries, ranked by perception

At a steep $999, the iPhone X is sleek and advanced, and might just make you appear the most technologically savvy of your friends.

But while Apple, the creator of the iPhone, is headquartered in the U.S., it doesn't necessarily mean the country is the most innovative.

Japan takes the No. 1 spot among such countries, according to data from the 2017 Best Countries rankings, a characterization based on a survey of more than 21,000 global citizens. Respondents evaluated 80 countries to determine the "most innovative."

In the survey, respondents answered how closely they related each of the 80 countries to the term "innovative." Respondents were given no further specifications of the term, so interpretation of the word "innovative" was left to survey respondents.

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26. Mexico

Right track: 8%
Wrong direction: 92%

(Photo by Sergio Mendoza Hochmann via Getty Images)

25. South Africa

Right track: 9%
Wrong direction: 91%

(Photo via Getty Images)

24. Brazil 

Right track: 12%
Wrong direction: 88%

(Photo by Cesar Okada via Getty Images)

23. Italy

Right track: 14%
Wrong direction: 86%

(Photo via Getty Images)

22. Hungary

Right track: 21%
Wrong direction: 79%

(Photo via Getty Images)

21. Peru

Right track: 26%
Wrong direction: 74%

(Photo via Getty Images)

20. Spain

Right track: 27%
Wrong direction: 73%

(Photo via Getty Images)

19. Great Britain

Right track: 28%
Wrong direction: 72%

(Photo via Getty Images)

18. Sweden

Right track: 32%
Wrong direction: 68%

(Photo via Getty Images)

17. Belgium

Right track: 34%
Wrong direction: 66%

(Photo via Getty Images)

16. Poland

Right track: 35%
Wrong direction: 65%

(Photo via Getty Images)

15. France

Right track: 35%
Wrong direction: 65%

(Photo via Getty Images)

14. Turkey

Right track: 36%
Wrong direction: 64%

(Photo via Getty Images)

13. Japan

Right track: 37%
Wrong direction: 63%

(Photo by Yoshio Tomii via Getty Images)

12. Israel

Right track: 41%
Wrong direction: 59%

(Photo via Getty Images)

11. Germany

Right track: 42%
Wrong direction: 58%

(Photo via Getty Images)

10. United States

Right track: 43%
Wrong direction: 57%

(Photo via Getty Images)

9. Australia

Right track: 43%
Wrong direction: 57%

(Photo via Getty Images)

8. Argentina

Right track: 44%
Wrong direction: 56%

(Photo via Getty Images)

7. Serbia

Right track: 51%
Wrong direction: 49%

(Photo via Getty Images)

6. Russia

Right track: 57%
Wrong direction: 43%

(Photo via Getty Images)

5. Canada

Right track: 58%
Wrong direction: 42%

(Photo via Getty Images)

4. South Korea

Right track: 66%
Wrong direction: 34%

(Photo via Getty Images)

3. Saudi Arabia

Right track: 71%
Wrong direction: 29%

(Photo via Getty Images)

2. India

Right track: 74%
Wrong direction: 26%

(Photo via Getty Images)

1. China

Right track: 87%
Wrong direction: 13%

(Photo via Getty Images)

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Japan's innovation image was marred by Tokyo's stock market crash in the 1990s, but a resurgence of interest in "startup culture" among its corporations has reportedly shifted its technological image, according to a Stanford University expert.

South Korea and the U.S. followed Japan to round out the top three. Croatia, by contrast, ranked last.

Michael Sekora, a top technology adviser during the Reagan administration, suggested in 2015 that Japan unequivocally leads the world in serious technology, not the U.S. or any other country commonly thought of as "advanced."

"Those who think that America is doing better than Japan view things solely in financial terms," Sekora told Forbes at the time. "That is at best a very limited view and they are not looking at the substance of economic competition. What matters ultimately is technology. Japan has continued to perform superlatively on that measure. America's performance has been disastrous."

Japan contributes a number of multinational companies to the competitive global electronics landscape, including well-known corporations like Sony and Toshiba.

Here's a look at the 10 Most Innovative Countries, ranked by perception:

CountryInnovative Rank

Overall Best Country Rank

Japan15
South Korea223
United States37
China420
Germany54
Singapore615
Switzerland71
Sweden86
United Kingdom 93
Finland1013

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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