It’s not easy to measure happiness and rank countries based on how happy their citizens are. The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Networks publishes an annual World Happiness Report. The 2019 report will be released sometime in March in honor of the International Day of Happiness of March 20. For now, let’s take a look at the top 10 happiest countries on the planet as per the 2018 World Happiness Report.
Ranking the top 10 happiest countries in the world
The UN assesses happiness based on six different parameters – Life expectancy, GDP per-capita, trust and corruption, social support, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity. The 2018 report ranked 156 countries based on their happiness levels. It also took into account the happiness of immigrants. All the top 10 happiest countries have high values for the six parameters. They are progressive, stable, and safe, with little corruption.
The wealthiest countries are not necessarily the happiest, even though they have high per-capita GDP and some of the best healthcare facilities. For instance, the US was ranked 18th in the World Happiness Report, lower than other wealthy nations. It’s because the country performed poorly on social measures. Inequality in the US has become a major concern and life expectancy has declined. The US also happens to be one of the world’s most obese nations. It also has the highest rate of antidepressant use on the planet, with 110 out of every 1,000 people using antidepressants.
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These are the top 10 happiest countries in the world, according to the United Nations:
Australia has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the world’s largest coral reef system. The temperatures remain consistently warm throughout the year. It has slipped one place compared to the previous ranking, but it remains among the world’s happiest countries. No wonder Australia is on the bucket list of many travelers. Its citizens enjoy a healthy work-life balance and low stress levels. Australia also has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
Sweden has the best of almost everything – the Scandinavian cool, beautiful lakes, hip cities, forests, a high per-capita GDP, an excellent healthcare system, and of course Stockholm. Locals as well as tourists can enjoy a vast number of outdoor adventures such as kayaking, horse riding, and ice skating. The country emphasizes education, work-life balance, and social equality. According to several other reports, Sweden is the best country for women.
8- New Zealand
Thanks to its beaches, adventure sports, natural beauty, and relaxed life, New Zealand is one of the hottest tourist destinations. It’s a country where locals as well as visitors are brimming with happiness. Another factor that helps keep them happy is a healthy work-life balance. New Zealand is one of the world’s least corrupt countries.
No matter what Americans tell you, Canadians are far happier than people in the US. Canada has high life expectancy, a world-class education system, excellent healthcare facilities, and a small population. Canadians can enjoy everything from bustling urban centers to absolute wildlife to extraordinary landscapes and natural wonders. The country gives its citizens as well as immigrants little reason to feel unhappy or depressed.
6- The Netherlands
The Netherlands is known for its easygoing and liberal approach to life. In the past, Dutch children have been ranked the happiest in the world. The Netherlands has a low unemployment rate of just 3.7%. The country ranks well on several important metrics such as health, education, safety, and corruption. This happy nation has windmill laden landscapes, the iconic fields of tulips, pretty aesthetics, and a thriving cycling culture.
Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest and healthiest nations. It was ranked the happiest country in the world in 2015. The country has a direct democracy system where everything is voted on, allowing citizens to actively participate in every big and small decision of the government. On top of that, the alpine landscapes, the majestic architecture, phenomenal infrastructure, high life expectancy, and an advanced education system can help you understand why it’s one of the world’s top 10 happiest countries.
Iceland’s ranking near the top of the world’s happiest nations is a bit intriguing. According to the UN, 106 out of every 1,000 Icelanders use antidepressants, the second highest in the world after the United States (110 out of 1,000). However, Iceland more than makes up for it due to the natural wonders, a healthy work-life balance, and an advanced healthcare system. People can easily escape the city life to go to the countryside, which gives an entirely different feeling.
Though it has slipped one spot from the previous year, Denmark continues to rank near the top in all the six metrics the World Happiness Report is based on. Denmark has one of the smallest wealth gaps in the world. The Danes enjoy high standards of living and have an efficient education, health, and public welfare system. About half of its energy is produced through renewable energy sources.
Norway is the second happiest country in the world. It is one of the best places to see the white night of summer and the Northern Lights. The welfare system, healthcare facilities, education system, social equality, natural beauty, trust in the government, and a thriving economy all contribute to the overall happiness of Norwegians.
Finland is the happiest nation in the world. The Finnish people are a joyful lot. It has one of the world’s best education systems. Finland also has the happiest immigrants on the planet. The country deeply cares about its environment and wildlife, which is evident from the fact that it has more forest per square mile than any other European nation.
If you are not lucky enough to live in any of the top 10 happiest countries, you may consider moving there if you can afford it. However, the World Happiness Report suggests an even better option – learn and apply the lessons, habits, and inspirations that are at the root of happiness in the above countries. Happiness is subjective. You can create it and share it with your loved ones.