Do you want to know which are the happiest countries in the world? Every year, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network publishes a statistics known as the World Happiness Report. First released in April 2012, the report is exactly what it sounds like – ranking of the happiest countries in the world based on how happy their inhabitants feel. The survey is based on several main factors including real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. Though some countries on the list may not be all that surprising, some might just take you by surprise. Furthermore, the rankings are quite surprising with some countries placing lower than you might expect and others placing higher. So, are you ready to find out which are the happiest countries in the world?
If you’re interested in learning about the happiness of countries, you might also be interested in learning about which countries are the most peaceful (two similar but not necessarily equal things).
Panama (score: 6.786)
Boasting one of the largest and fastest growing economies in Central America, Panama is a country where tourism is an important contributor to the GDP. Although the country’s economy has improved significantly, about 25% of the population still live in poverty. Nevertheless, Panama ranked as the 25th happiest country in the world.
Singapore (score: 6.798)
With one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the longest overall life expectancies in the world, Singapore places high in international rankings with regard to living standards and economic competitiveness. Excellent healthcare, education, infrastructure and low unemployment are among the reasons why Singapore is such a happy place to live in.
Venezuela (score: 6.810)
Rich in natural resources (particularly oil), Venezuela is among the most urbanized and developed countries in Latin America. Although – similarly to its southern neighbor Brazil – the country has been struggling with some serious problems such as high crime rate, drug trade etc., the Venezuelans are still the 23rd happiest nation in the world.
Oman (score: 6.853)
Oman is one of just two Arab countries that made it to the list. Despite not having as rich resources as its neighbors, Oman was ranked as the world´s most improved nation in terms of development during the preceding 40 years and is now categorized as one of the high-income economy countries, which also might be a reason why the Omani feel happy.
United Kingdom (score: 6.867)
Ranked on the top spots in most economy-related statistics, the United Kingdom is a country with one of the highest living standards in the world. A major world power with considerable economic, cultural, scientific, and political influence, it is a country where – despite the notoriously bad local weather and cuisine – people seem to live happy lives.
United Arab Emirates (score: 6.901)
With its enormous oil reserves, UAE is a rich Arab country known for its massive urbanization and opulent structures. Dubai and Abu Dhabi-capitals of two of its emirates of the same name-rank among the world´s most luxurious and expensive cities. Despite being criticized for its human rights record, UAE appears to be a happy country.
Belgium (score: 6.937)
One of the smallest countries on the list, Belgium is home to the EU capital and most of its institutions and bodies, making it an extremely important country. Characterized by a strongly globalized economy and urbanization (97% of Belgians live in cities), Belgium also boasts a great infrastructure, education, health and social system.
Ireland (score: 6.940)
Notable for its breathtaking natural beauties, picturesque landscape and renowned historical sites, Ireland was ranked as the seventh-most developed country in 2011 and 2013. Doing well in several other metrics of national performance, including freedom of the press, economic freedom and civil liberties, Ireland offers great conditions for a happy life.
Luxembourg (score: 6.946)
One of the smallest sovereign countries in the world, Luxembourg is famous for its stable high-income market economy, high standard of living, low inflation and low unemployment. Boasting the world´s highest GDP per capita, Luxembourg is a highly-developed and very safe country, which makes it a great place to live.
Brazil (score: 6.983)
The largest national economy in Latin America and the seventh largest in purchasing power parity in the world, Brazil is a vast country that also has some major social issues such as high crime rate, corruption and significant poverty. In spite of this, its more than 200 million inhabitants feel happy.
United States (score: 7.119)
The world’s largest economy by nominal and real GDP, the US is a major technological and political force. Famous for its affluence, liberal principles and consumerism, the US offers citizens the ability to obtain the “American Dream”.
Mexico (score: 7.187)
One of the world’s largest economies, Mexico is the world´s largest silver producer and tenth largest oil producer. With its beautiful beaches, renowned seaside resorts and sunny weather, the country also ranks among major tourist destinations. Despite the notorious criminality particularly related to the drug trade, the Mexicans are generally happy people.
Austria (score: 7.200)
One of the world´s richest and most developed countries, Austria has performed well in all economy-related statistics. Renowned for its amazing location within the spectacular panoramas of the Alps, Austria also offers its inhabitants fresh air and clean environment, which may also contribute to this nation´s happiness.
Costa Rica (score: 7.226)
Home to more than 4.5 million mostly happy people, Costa Rica is another Central American country that made it to the list. With a constantly good performance in human development, Costa Rica is known for its progressive environmental policies, being the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability.
Israel (score: 7.278)
Boasting the highest standard of living in the Middle East and one of the highest life expectancies in the world, Israel is a country of highly motivated and educated people who contribute to its strong and developed economy. Despite the recent conflicts in some parts of the country, most Israeli still consider their country a good place for a happy life
Australia (score: 7.284)
One of the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, including quality of life, health, education, protection of civil and political rights etc. Melbourne, one of Australia´s major cities, has been even named “the best city in the world to live in” several times.
New Zealand (score: 7.286)
Famous for its breathtaking landscape and natural landmarks, New Zealand is a highly developed country with an efficient infrastructure, modern and prosperous economy and a stable social system. Surrounded by the beautiful nature, local people are known to be very friendly, easy-going and relaxed so finding New Zealand on this list is no surprise.
Sweden (score: 7.364)
Apart from numerous economic and social privileges such as the world’s eighth-highest per capita income, top quality of life, excellent health and educational system, protection of civil liberties etc., Sweden can offer its inhabitants clean environment as well as astonishing cities packed with historic sites and unique architecture.
Netherlands (score: 7.378)
Famous for its benevolent attitude towards soft drugs, prostitution, euthanasia and gay marriages, Netherlands dropped from the last years´ fourth place but the Dutch still consider themselves happy. High quality of life, economic freedom as well as highly effective healthcare and social system are among the reasons why the Dutch enjoy living in their country.
Finland (score: 7.406)
Similarly to its neighbor Sweden, Finland is also a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, human development etc. In 2010, Newsweek chose Finland as the best country in the world. Finland is currently also the world´s fourth safest country according to the Global Peace Index.
Canada (score: 7.427)
The world´s second largest country by total area, Canada is a beautiful country with unspoiled natural features. With excellent results in government transparency, civil liberties, human rights, quality of life, economic freedom, and education, Canada is the fifth happiest country in the world.
Norway (score: 7.522)
Considered one of the most developed democracies and states of justice in the world, Norway regularly ranks among the best countries to live in. With the 4th-highest per capita income in the world, this country is also notable for its astonishing natural landmarks, well-preserved wildlife and clean environment. No wonder the Norwegians are happy people.
Denmark (score: 7.527)
Denmark slipped from number one to the third spot this year, but the country’s overall well-being is still very high. World’s highest social mobility, an outstanding level of income equality, prosperity, civil liberty and one of the world’s highest per capita incomes are just some of the reasons why the Danes are so happy about living in their country.
Iceland (score: 7.561)
Another Nordic country boasting incredible natural beauties and top quality of life, Iceland is particularly famous for its safeness. For many consecutive years, this isolated Northern-European country has been rated the most peaceful country in the world according to the Global Peace Index. Combined with their enormous well-being, the Icelanders seem destined for happiness.
Switzerland (score: 7.587)
To name at least some of the reasons why Switzerland is the world´s happiest country: the Swiss enjoy exceptional government transparency, civil liberties, economic competitiveness, human development, world´s highest nominal wealth per person etc. In addition to that, it is a beautiful and safe country and is considered to be one of the best places to live in.