In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the disruption and suffering from a war raging in Europe, and climate change a huge ongoing global concern, fearful uncertainty about the future is understandable. So, it’s worth highlighting some of the good in the world, and which countries are the happiest.
Despite global divisions, some communities weather life’s storms with solidarity, mutual respect, and all-round contentment.
In this article, let’s explore the top five happiest countries in the world.
The World Happiness Report
Each year, the UN releases the World Happiness Report, which analyses certain factors to determine the happiest country in the world.
The survey measures happiness with people ranking their subjective well-being (aka happiness score) on a scale of 0 to 10 in various areas, including:
- Gross domestic product per capita
- Social support
- Healthy life expectancy
- Freedom to make one’s own life choices
- Generosity of the general public
- Perceptions of both internal and external corruption
We have selected the top five countries with happy citizens, and explored some of the reasons why their levels of contentment surpass the rest of the world.
5. The Netherlands
The Dutch are very tolerant and hospitable people, and thus the Netherlands – with a score of 7.415/10 – is a welcoming, open, and liberal country. The Netherland’s happiness is largely down to its citizens satisfaction with employment, social support, and mental health and well-being.
They prioritize a good balance between work and home life as essential for life, and they boast one of the shortest average work weeks in Europe. Many businesses offer flexibility on start and finish times to accommodate their employees, and with the average holiday allowance of 20 days per year, it’s no wonder why this is such a happy country.
Research also suggests that Dutch children are among the happiest in the world – partly because they grow up in a culture where diversity is valued, and differences celebrated.
Moreover, parents are less likely to be concerned about their children doing well in school, and far more concerned about their overall wellbeing and happiness. Happy children make for a happy future society.
Switzerland’s happiness score is 7.512/10. Whilst this beautiful Alpine country, home to the breathtaking Swiss Alps is one of the wealthiest in the world, money is not the only reason for the happiness of its residents.
Trust, fairness, honesty, and good health are what rank this nation in 4th place on the World Happiness Report – along with being a safe, clean country with a real sense of community and pride.
The Swiss spend their winters on ski slopes a stone’s throw from their front doors, and summers on the beaches and at the lakes, as well as cycling and mountain climbing. Each season brings a unique outdoor adventure, and with all that fresh air and natural beauty, there is always something fun to look forward to.
A generous welfare system provides basic living costs, housing, and health insurance with quality healthcare and universal coverage for all citizens with comparatively low appointment wait times.
A healthy diet and physical fitness are also known to contribute to wellbeing, and the Swiss are some of the slimmest in the world, with physical activity emphasised from a young age.
In third place, Iceland has a score of 7.557/10. Frequent storms and rain obviously don’t deter Icelandic people from feeling a great sense of contentment living here. But who doesn’t love a good storm?
Though you won’t find any residents basking in the blazing warmth of the sun here, its oceanic climate is otherwise not as bitter-cold as it gets in Greenland or Norway, for example, with temperatures between 26°- 37° [-3 to +3 Celsius] in January, and up to 60° [15 degrees Celsius] in July.
Icelanders are exceptionally happy and positive, and this may well have to do with their culture of equality and acceptance – having a reputation for the most advanced country in terms of gender equality.
Reykjavik Pride is the only Gay Pride parade which has never seen a protest, something the locals are very proud of. Iceland also has one of the highest life expectancies in the world as well as the lowest infant mortality rate. Along with a very athletic population that enjoys relishing in the country’s natural beauty.
Iceland is also the most sparsely populated country in Europe, home to just over 350,000 people. With that said, Icelanders do not report being lonely, with 99% saying they had someone they could count on. Living in a society which feels like one big family with a strong sense of community is bound to make the residents of Iceland happy.
Denmark comes in at second place with a score of 7.636/10. It rates nearly at the top in all reported metrics, with life expectancy, generosity and social support among them.
Denmark’s levels of social trust are super high, as people have faith not just in their fellow citizens, but in the government, monarchy, police and hospitals. Such trust and community values have a longstanding history in Danish society and culture.
Denmark is also one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, which helps contribute to the contentment of its citizens.
Perhaps it is the perfect combination of vibrant cosmopolitan cities with awe-inspiring landscapes of rolling hills and sand dunes, quaint villages, historic towns and Renaissance castles that inspires contentment in the hearts of Danes.
The happiness of Denmark’s citizens is unmarred by the fact they pay some of the world’s highest taxes – reportedly over half their income [56%]. Possibly because Danes have clear visibility of what their taxes are spent on and what they get in return – such as, university students do not pay any tuition fees, up to and including a Ph.D.
For the 5th year in a row, Finland is the world’s happiest country with a score of 7.821/10.
Finland’s citizens have a strong sense of trust in one another as well as civic duty. Compared with much of the rest of the western world, Finland is very laid back and more at peace with itself. Citizens are very warm and place importance on cooperation with one another, rather than competition.
Finnish people feel secure and have little concern about the outside world in the same way that many other nations do, giving them excellent resilience to deal with the ups and downs of life.
Despite its long, dark, and cold winters, Finland is one of the best places on the planet for natural beauty which makes it such a wonderful place to be. Being surrounded by nature has been proven to make people feel happier, and with so much to see and do in Finland, it’s no wonder its people are so content with life there.
Finland also has a high standard of living and is an incredibly safe country to live with very low crime levels. Their school system is one of the fairest in Europe producing some of the best results which lead to more opportunities for young people.
And there you have it, the top five happiest countries in the world. With the Netherlands and Nordic countries dominating these spots, they clearly have everything they need to be content, whatever storm (literally or figuratively) life throws their way.
Besides being Nordic states, another thing all of the happiest countries in the world have in common is a relationship with the European Union that allows for an open borders policy for EU nationals and legal residents.
Thus, by leveraging the power of the Maltese Citizenship by Investment program or the highly sought after Cyprus Golden Visa, as examples, Astons’ clients can decide whether to live in the island paradises of Malta or Cyprus – or elsewhere throughout the EU, including all of the happiest countries in the world.
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