In spite of the tragic daily events occurring all over the world right now, from the war in Syria, instability in Iraq, ISIS war crimes in both Syria and Iraq, chaos in Libya, rising tension in Asia, the political situation in Ukraine, the Israeli war on Gaza, Obama ‘supposed war’ against terrorism, exorbitant spending on World Cup while millions are in need of food, to a misunderstood Ebola crisis, happiness is still found even in the most war-torn places. The only question is: how widespread is the happiness?

So, which countries are the happiest?

Columbia University’s Earth Institute released a U.N.-sponsored “World Happiness Report”, which ranks happiness based on many factors, especially social and economic ones. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden are at the top of the list of the happiest countries in the world.

According to the report, the “standards of happiness” are highest in the Western, developed world: North America, Western Europe and Australia.


The results of Columbia University’s World Happiness Report, mapped. (Max Fisher/The Washington Post)

The report was built on 3 “measures of happiness” appraised by Gallup polls, using a specific size of 3,000 people in each country.

The measures are:

1. Life satisfaction.

2. Positive emotional state the prior day.

3. Negative emotional state the prior day.

The following image shows comparing statistics of regional trends in happiness metrics between the years 2005-2007 and 2010-2012.


Technology was also considered as a contributor to happiness, plus more factors like the value of a person in the society they live in, economic productivity, and health standards. Their use of economic productivity as a standard of happiness may confuse the results a little. It would also be reasonable to question the validity of the data based on the limited sample size of 3,000 people per country.

Here is another map showing the highest and lowest ranked countries (Click to enlarge)


No matter where you live, there are practices you can use to help increase your basic level of satisfaction (aka happiness). Beyond a personal level, there are meaningful things you can do to improve general happiness where you are, like investing in your kids’ education, utilizing your rights to vote and to express political opinions, being tolerant of others’ viewpoints and different kinds of people, being aware of the environment, eating right and getting enough sleep, helping others, getting married, doing sports, volunteering, and donating to charities.

More Resources:

1. World Happiness Report 2013

2. The 40 Happiest and Saddest Countries in The World

3. The world’s happiest countries