Ireland has been named the best country in the world for business by U.S. financial magazine Forbes for the first time since the list began in 2006, it was learned on Thursday. Ireland moved up from number six last year, as a result of improved scores on monetary freedom and the high return from the Irish Stock Exchange Overall Index. A total of 145 countries were studied for the list which is compiled by grading 11 different factors including innovation, taxes, corruption, red tape and stock market performance. Ireland scored well across the board for business friendliness and very near the top for low tax burden, investor protection and personal freedom. Despite Ireland's recent economic problems it remained a pro-business country that continued to attract investments from some of the world's biggest companies over the last ten years, Forbes said. The U.S. magazine said that the economic downturn had made it more attractive for companies moving to Ireland as nominal wages fell by 17 percent between 2008 and 2011, which help keep labor costs in check. The fact that unemployment remains stubbornly high also means that companies have a large labor pool from which to pick from, it said. Forbes said there are now over 1,000 overseas companies with a presence in Ireland, adding that the country also serves as the European headquarters for a number of U.S. firms, including Google, Twitter and Facebook. The rest of the top five in the rankings are New Zealand, Hong Kong, Denmark and Sweden. The United States continued its four year slide and is now ranked at number 14 after sitting in second place in 2009. Ireland's Jobs Minister Richard Bruton welcomed the publication of the Forbes annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business. "Today's finding by Forbes that we are the best country in the world for business is above all a testament to the hard work and innovation of our businesses and workers," he said. "It is the latest in a range of indicators which shows that the environment for business here is steadily improving, and shows that the hard work and sacrifices of so many people are yielding tangible results in terms of international competitiveness and the jobs we so badly need," he added.