What, for you, is happiness?
Let us look back at The World Happiness Report 2017 before the 2018 version comes up. This Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The World Happiness Report 2017, which ranked 155 countries by their happiness levels, was released at the United Nations at an event celebrating the International Day of Happiness, which is coming soon again on March 20.
This report, the fifth one to come out since 2012, continues to gain global recognition as governments, organizations and civil society increasingly use happiness indicators in their policy-making decisions.
In ranking the Happiness of each country, six variables are used: (1) GDP per capita; (2) healthy life expectancy at birth; (3) social support; (4) freedom to make life choices; (5) generosity, and (6) perceptions of corruption.
Listed below are the top 10 happiest countries in the world in 2017, with some of the reasons why.
In Sweden, the coffee break is sacred. Swedes carve out time each day to slow down and enjoy fika, a short beverage break that can be done solo or with company. This country also held onto its place from last year, with social support, high GDP per capita, and healthy life expectancy still earning it a place in the top 10.
From the packed shores of Bondi Beach to the quiet hideaways along the Great Ocean Road, Australia has a whopping 10,685 beaches.
Despite environmental threats to the survival of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s World Heritage Site remains a significant draw for domestic and international tourists alike.
Australia did well overall, but social issues like mental and physical illness kept it from earning a higher place on the list.
8 New Zealand
No part of this island nation is more than 79 miles (128km) from the sea. New Zealand is also home to unique penguin species, including the yellow-eyed penguin, the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin, and the little blue penguin – the world’s smallest.
Despite its remote location, this island nation has become a popular destination. Sailing and water sports are popular with the locals, who retained their eighth place title for another year, and visitors.
Though New Zealand has a slightly lower GDP per capita than Australia, the 2 countries rank almost identically on the list in terms of all 6 happiness factors except generosity, with Kiwis being slightly more generous than Aussies.
Canada’s forest cover represents 30 percent of the world’s boreal forest and 10 percent of the world’s overall forest cover. Unsurprisingly, Canada’s air quality is among the best in the world.
While Canada dropped one spot to seventh place this year, it still has much to celebrate on its 150th year as a nation. And much credit goes to Prince Edward Island, where a small group of elected officials gathered in 1864 to discuss joining the region’s independent provinces to create one nation.
The country swapped places with the Netherlands in this year’s ranking, but still achieved a high score, with social factors like diversity playing the strongest role. Highly diverse societies, such as Canada, have been able to achieve relatively high levels of social trust through programs aimed at promoting multiculturalism and inter-ethnic understanding.
It is the Dutch country famous for Van Gogh, tulips and canals – marked by illuminated bridges at Kaisersgracht and Leidsegracht in Amsterdam. Amsterdam actually has 1281 bridges, three times as many as Venice.
Netherlands and Canada have very similar happiness profiles, ranking neck-and-neck in terms of life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, and perceived freedom to make life choices. It moved up one spot to sixth place.
Finns take their soak time so seriously, there are an estimated two million saunas in the country with a population of 5.3 million.
Famous for its winter sports, Finland is also breathtakingly beautiful in summer, as can be seen in Lakeland. The country retained its fifth place spot on this year’s World Happiness Report list.
According to the International Cocoa Organization, the Swiss eat an estimated 25 pounds (11 kilograms) of chocolate a year.
While Switzerland dropped from second to fourth place this year, the competition between the top four countries was very close. The top 4 happiest countries on the list are clustered so tightly that the differences among them are not statistically significant.
This country is known as “The Land of Fire and Ice” because of the glaciers and volcanoes that make up the landscape. Iceland’s Vatnajökull – Europe’s largest glacier – is a piece of ice the size of Puerto Rico.
In addition, there is adventure to be had outside of the capital city of Reykjavik, whether it’s trying to spot the Northern Lights or visit any of the smaller towns around this tiny country. No matter how cold one gets outside, most towns have a hot, steaming tub or pool from which soakers can watch the snow fall.
Social support proved to be one of the most important factors considered in the rankings, and of all the nations surveyed by the Gallup World Poll, the percentage of people who reported having someone to count on in times of crisis, the highest was in Iceland.
Denmark, where Copenhagen is located, built a city for bicyclists. A third of Copenhageners commute to work daily on 217 miles (350 kilometers) of paths and lanes that stretch across the city.
Also, this country of very happy people has won the title of world’s happiest country three of the five times the report has been issued. The sailing boats at Nyhavn, a 17th Century waterfront canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen, are enough to make any visitor happy.
The country fell one place in the ranking, but retains a steady score based on all 6 of its happiness factors.
Norway is a premiere destination to view the dancing lights of the aurora borealis. In ancient times, people believed the glowing lights were sent from the gods.
Also, this Scandinavian country filled with hikers, fjord-explorers and coffee drinkers vaulted from fourth place to first place to become the world’s happiest country. Its Lofoten Islands are well known for their jagged mountains and red cabins.
Notably, on The Children’s Worlds index of material deprivation, Norwegian children lacked the least in the world.
You want to see for yourself the happiest people in the happiest places? Go add these countries to your bucket list!