The Happy Planet Index measures what matters: sustainable wellbeing for all. It tells us how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives.
Every year the United Nations measures the quality of life for citizens around the world through surveys and data analysis.
But what makes these countries the happiest in the world? All possess a winning formula of good governance, strong sense of community, respect for fellow citizens, and general high quality of life.
This isn’t the first time that Denmark has been named the happiest country in the world. Denmark offers an abundance of free public services, such as health care and education, and it prides itself on its strong sense of social life and community.
Unemployment rates are low, with well-educated people (partially due to their free education system) and a 100% literacy rate.
The world’s happiest country in the 2015 rankings, Switzerland is known for being a prosperous nation with magnificent ski slopes and rich chocolate. Switzerland’s thriving outdoor spaces also afford a healthy lifestyle for its citizens.
Switzerland is simply stunning, with its towering snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, and environments that range from lush to frozen. Its people are also some of the happiest, with higher than average life expectancies, strong health rankings, plenty of community involvement, and great safety. Plus, in a place that’s known for its abundance of delectable chocolate, how could you ever be sad?
Iceland has a high employment rate and a very strong social network that promotes the relationship and support between people belonging to a community: even 96% of residents said they live in a close-knit community.
It’s not surprising that Norway tends to rank very high on world happiness reports and it’s one of the most prosperous countries in the world. It has the 2nd highest level of satisfaction with standards of living, and three quarters of its residents report that they have more positive than negative experiences each day. The country is also one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, with its gorgeous landscape, an abundance of fjords, glaciers, and mountains.
Finland is not just the traditional Finnish sauna, a revered custom throughout the nation. Despite a population of only 5.2 million people, there are some 3.3 million saunas found throughout the country.
Known for its great education system, this Nordic country also offers a high quality of life, low levels of corruption, high literacy rates, a small income gap, high life expectancy, and a great work-life balance.
Vast and expansive Canada is the second largest country in the world by total area, stretching northward into the Arctic Circle.
One of the largest countries in the world is also one of the happiest; Canadian people are incredibly content with their current lives and the direction that they’re heading in. Canadians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, live in one of the safest of all countries, and have a top performing education system. Plus, 80% of all residents say that they enjoy more positive experiences than negative in the average day.
7. THE NETHERLANDS
Citizens living in the Netherlands report the highest rates of physical activity in the world. The country takes pride in its 20,000 miles of bicycle lanes for safe travel, and the capital city of Amsterdam is considered to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
This European country isn’t all tulips, windmills, and clogs – Netherlanders rate themselves as some of the most satisfied people in the world. With their strong job market and great work-life balance, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. In their very free country, locals also get to enjoy plenty of personal choice, from religion to sexuality and everything in between.
8. NEW ZELAND
New Zeland has low levels of pollution and is known as one of the most biodiverse islands in the world. New Zealanders take pride in their local ecology and work hard to protect it.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world by area. It has very low levels of pollution, high levels of civic engagement, and tight-knit locals.
Not only do they live in one of the most adored spots on earth (who wouldn’t like sunny skies, coral reefs, and white sand beaches?), but they also rank high in many life-happiness categories; they have some of the highest scores for community engagement, health, environmental care, and employment.
Sweden is one of five Nordic countries that consistently sits near the top of the Happiness Report, highlighting the high level of satisfaction found in this region of the world. To experience what makes this country happy, simply visit a coffee shop: Sweden is one of the three biggest coffee consumers in the world. A sense of community is strengthened through the tradition known as fika, loosely translated into “break time,” when locals meet over coffee to catch up, discuss news, and eat pastries. Try taking a fika at historic Vete-Katten in Stockholm, a local sipping spot founded in 1928.
Sweden has both exciting big cities and stunning natural beauty, with thick green forests, rocky islands, and vast frozen landscapes. The country also scores high in areas of environmental quality, overall health, life satisfaction, and number of business opportunities.
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