Top 10 happiest countries in the world


Perhaps your idea of happiness is a pristine beach off the Caribbean, a glass of vintage red on the French Riviera or an unexpected hotel upgrade, but what about the happiness of a nation? The winner of this year’s World Happiness Report may come as a surprise to some. For the second time in a row, Finland has been crowned the happiest nation on the planet.

Using data collected over the previous three years by independent poll group Gallup, the UN report ranks countries on “how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be” based on income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

2019 World Happiness Report top ten

1. Finland

Despite not having the highest GDP of the Nordic countries, Finland tops the happiness list. Its robust social safety net, personal freedoms and great work-life balance give it an edge on its Scandinavian neighbours. Others point to the nation’s fascination with nature and the outdoors, while some suggest its happiness lies in its culture of generosity to others.

2. Denmark

With its stable government, low levels of corruption, and high-quality education and healthcare, Denmark consistently ranks as a very happy nation. Many argue that it’s a more abstract Danish concept that gives it its edge, however. Sometimes translating as cosy, ‘hygge’ refers to harmonious shared experiences, such as family picnics or a glass of wine with friends.

3. Norway

With an equally generous welfare system and high levels of social equality, Norway comes in third place. Its majestic mountain ranges, spectacular glaciers and deep coastal fjords make the country an ideal setting for its popular pastimes of fishing, hiking and skiing.

4. Iceland

A magnificent land of volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields: Iceland is an impressive sight. It’s also one of the happiest. Alongside its striking nature, its space, cleanliness and social equality make it a great place to live.

5. Netherlands

There’s much more to the Netherlands than canals, tulips and windmills alone. It’s a progressive, eco-friendly nation sparkling with political freedom, high levels of social equality and modern creativity. The multicultural nation scored especially well in the category of immigrant happiness and also ranked very highly in terms of life expectancy.

6. Switzerland 

A holiday in Switzerland might be more about fondue, chocolate and alpine pursuits, but scratch beneath the touristy surface and you’ll find a strong community spirit, traditional family values and outdoorsy lifestyle. While foreigners might balk at the apparent obsession with rules and regulations, Switzerland’s uber efficient healthcare and public transport, as well as its low crime rate more than compensate.

7. Sweden

Sweden’s blue and yellow flag might recall flat packed furniture for some, but it also symbolises the best of Scandinavia: stylish design, crisp coastal air and a united community. Like its Nordic neighbours, Sweden also puts a strong emphasis on physical and mental well-being, with a public holiday dedicated to sporting activities.

8. New Zealand

With its dramatic ravines and lush wild pastures, New Zealand was the setting for mythical Middle Earth in the most famous “Lord of the Rings” films. But it’s not just its nature which makes it one of the happiest on the planet. The kiwi community is one of the most resilient and homogenous in the world, uniting in challenging times, for example after its 2011 earthquake and more recent terrorist attack.

9. Canada

Majestic valleys, glistening lakes and fresh pine forests. Life in Canada is as sweet as its maple syrup. While its beauty perhaps lies in its natural landscapes, even its urban populations are some of the happiest on the planet. The North American country boasts low unemployment, excellent healthcare, and great infrastructure.

10. Austria

Quaint mountain villages, baroque architecture, rich history and energising mountain air combine in the tenth happiest country. The birthplace of the waltz and many classical composers, over a half of the nation is covered by the Alps. On the whole, locals benefit from cultural richesse and a great social life in this European state.


Comments (21)

  1. Sajjan says:

    In a BBC program,it was told that most happiest country is Norway and Japan was also included in that list but not included here.

  2. Elizabeth Knowling says:

    It is interesting that there are four Nordic countries at the top of the league. On paper you would think that high taxes and freezing winters would depress people. After all cases of SAD must be high with little daylight in winter.

    I read “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” which gives a number of insights into the Nordic psyche. It is difficult to put your finger on it but my guess is that the Nordic people have more sense of community. They like their clubs and getting a sense of belonging. They probably have more people that they can interact with than in other countries.

    • Diana Presley says:

      I started that book but gave up about half-way through. I was just becoming disorientated from travelling from one country to the next.

      Far better, in my opinion, is “The Year Of Living Danishly” which is hilarious and full of insight at the same time. The couple who arrive in Denmark in the depths of winter slowly come to terms with the Danish ways and seem happily integrated into the Scandinavian way of life by the final chapter.

  3. Roger says:

    Many people dismiss the happiness league tables as quite superficial but at a time when mental health issues and depression are talked about so frequently I think we need to pay more attention to what makes us happy.

    Of course there is the inevitable danger of looking over the fence and believing that the grass is greener on the other side. But I believe it is good to have a comparative take on life and a global perspective to learn from what’s going on around the world.

  4. Sally Arnold says:

    This concept of Hygge has got a lot to do with the Scandinaians’ happiness. The idea of making yourself comfortable even when it’s dark and cold outside is useful. It’s the ability to look on the bright side and make the most of things. More importantly Hygge is inviting family and friends to come and share your den or refuge.

  5. Ben says:

    Great article Paul! Get me to Scandinavia now, preferably Norway! They quite literally have it so good over there. Keep up the good work.

  6. Ted says:

    An interesting League table but remember that this is taking data at a big country-wide level.

    I try to catch The Monocle edition which lists the world’s most lovable cities. The Canadian and Japanese cities do well as do some of the Scandinavian cities again but Melbourne is usually up there near the top too. Huge number of stats contribute to their ratings which makes for interesting reading in itself.

  7. Susan W. says:

    I just read somewhere that Finland is offering free summer vacations so other people can learn how to be happy, or happier. It seems legit and it looks like they’re also trying to attract more tourists, especially if you compare them to their more popular neighbours.

  8. Pradeep says:

    Thanks for the list, but surprised to see “Bhutan” missing here. I always wanted to visit this place. Will check out the other countries mentioned here. Would love to see India here in the list soon.

  9. John says:

    Hell yeah Finland is number one. We have free health care and our education system is very good.
    And btw guns are illegal in Finland.

  10. Paul Johnson says:

    For those who are interested in seeing where other countries are placed, here is the full list:

    1. Finland (7.769)
    2. Denmark (7.600)
    3. Norway (7.554)
    4. Iceland (7.494)
    5. Netherlands (7.488)
    6. Switzerland (7.480)
    7. Sweden (7.343)
    8. New Zealand (7.307)
    9. Canada (7.278)
    10. Austria (7.246)
    11. Australia (7.228)
    12. Costa Rica (7.167)
    13. Israel (7.139)
    14. Luxembourg (7.090)
    15. United Kingdom (7.054)
    16. Ireland (7.021)
    17. Germany (6.985)
    18. Belgium (6.923)
    19. United States (6.892)
    20. Czech Republic (6.852)
    21. United Arab Emirates (6.825)
    22. Malta (6.726)
    23. Mexico (6.595)
    24. France (6.592)
    25. Taiwan Province of China (6.446)
    26. Chile (6.444)
    27. Guatemala (6.436)
    28. Saudi Arabia (6.375)
    29. Qatar (6.374)
    30. Spain (6.354)
    31. Panama (6.321)
    32. Brazil (6.300)
    33. Uruguay (6.293)
    34. Singapore (6.262)
    35. El Salvador (6.253)
    36. Italy (6.223)
    37. Bahrain (6.199)
    38. Slovakia (6.198)
    39. Trinidad and Tobago (6.192)
    40. Poland (6.182)
    41. Uzbekistan (6.174)
    42. Lithuania (6.149)
    43. Colombia (6.125)
    44. Slovenia (6.118)
    45. Nicaragua (6.105)
    46. Kosovo (6.100)
    47. Argentina (6.086)
    48. Romania (6.070)
    49. Cyprus (6.046)
    50. Ecuador (6.028)
    51. Kuwait (6.021)
    52. Thailand (6.008)
    53. Latvia (5.940)
    54. South Korea (5.895)
    55. Estonia (5.893)
    56. Jamaica (5.890)
    57. Mauritius (5.888)
    58. Japan (5.886)
    59. Honduras (5.860)
    60. Kazakhstan (5.809)
    61. Bolivia (5.779)
    62. Hungary (5.758)
    63. Paraguay (5.743)
    64. North Cyprus (5.718)
    65. Peru (5.697)
    66. Portugal (5.693)
    67. Pakistan (5.653)
    68. Russia (5.648)
    69. Philippines (5.631)
    70. Serbia (5.603)
    71. Moldova (5.529)
    72. Libya (5.525)
    73. Montenegro (5.523)
    74. Tajikistan (5.467)
    75. Croatia (5.432)
    76. Hong Kong SAR, China (5.430)
    77. Dominican Republic (5.425)
    78. Bosnia and Herzegovina (5.386)
    79. Turkey (5.373)
    80. Malaysia (5.339)
    81. Belarus (5.323)
    82. Greece (5.287)
    83. Mongolia (5.285)
    84. Macedonia (5.274)
    85. Nigeria (5.265)
    86. Kyrgyzstan (5.261)
    87. Turkmenistan (5.247)
    88. Algeria (5.211)
    89. Morocco (5.208)
    90. Azerbaijan (5.208)
    91. Lebanon (5.197)
    92. Indonesia (5.192)
    93. China (5.191)
    94. Vietnam (5.175)
    95. Bhutan (5.082)
    96. Cameroon (5.044)
    97. Bulgaria (5.011)
    98. Ghana (4.996)
    99. Ivory Coast (4.944)
    100. Nepal (4.913)
    101. Jordan (4.906)
    102. Benin (4.883)
    103. Congo (Brazzaville) (4.812)
    104. Gabon (4.799)
    105. Laos (4.796)
    106. South Africa (4.722)
    107. Albania (4.719)
    108. Venezuela (4.707)
    109. Cambodia (4.700)
    110. Palestinian Territories (4.696)
    111. Senegal (4.681)
    112. Somalia (4.668)
    113. Namibia (4.639)
    114. Niger (4.628)
    115. Burkina Faso (4.587)
    116. Armenia (4.559)
    117. Iran (4.548)
    118. Guinea (4.534)
    119. Georgia (4.519)
    120. Gambia (4.516)
    121. Kenya (4.509)
    122. Mauritania (4.490)
    123. Mozambique (4.466)
    124. Tunisia (4.461)
    125. Bangladesh (4.456)
    126. Iraq (4.437)
    127. Congo (Kinshasa) (4.418)
    128. Mali (4.390)
    129. Sierra Leone (4.374)
    130. Sri Lanka (4.366)
    131. Myanmar (4.360)
    132. Chad (4.350)
    133. Ukraine (4.332)
    134. Ethiopia (4.286)
    135. Swaziland (4.212)
    136. Uganda (4.189)
    137. Egypt (4.166)
    138. Zambia (4.107)
    139. Togo (4.085)
    140. India (4.015)
    141. Liberia (3.975)
    142. Comoros (3.973)
    143. Madagascar (3.933)
    144. Lesotho (3.802)
    145. Burundi (3.775)
    146. Zimbabwe (3.663)
    147. Haiti (3.597)
    148. Botswana (3.488)
    149. Syria (3.462)
    150. Malawi (3.410)
    151. Yemen (3.380)
    152. Rwanda (3.334)
    153. Tanzania (3.231)
    154. Afghanistan (3.203)
    155. Central African Republic (3.083)
    156. South Sudan (2.853)

  11. Nir Karki says:

    I’m visiting the 2nd happiest country in the world in May. Very excited to meet the happy peoples :)

  12. Wow! The UK Suprises me it’s 15. As I’m from the UK and a lot of people just complain/moan all the time.

  13. Jonathan Olino says:

    I agree! I visited most of these countries already and I must say, the people are very kind and welcoming. I think that is the main reason why they are called the ‘happiest countries’. Their people are very friendly and you won’t experience any kind of negative feelings toward them. You won’t feel discriminated or ‘out of place’ because they treat you as if you are a local there. Great people and great places!

  14. John says:

    I noticed Nepal is at the position of 100. Thousands of foreigners come to Nepal to find out Peace and Happiness in the Himalayas of Nepal. Hope to see Nepal in a better position in the coming year.

  15. Subash KC says:

    My friend has just returned from Finland, I had coffee talk with him regarding this topic. He said, yes Finland deserves the top Position, People of Finland are awesome. But, as Nepalese it sad to see 100th position. Hope Nepal will rise.

  16. John W. says:

    Switzerland is the happiest countries of the world

  17. Pasang says:

    For me Nepal is a one of the most beautiful happiest country in the world. Do you guys know why??? Because I was born on the laps of GORGEOUS Langtang lirung and Dorji Lahkpa Himalaya.

  18. We do not publicity our country Nepal.We have famous of Mount Everest 8848m and The birth place of Gautam Buddha but travelers don’t know about Nepal.That’s why we are in now 100 th position but we will upgrade next year which is Tourism year 2020 we will celebrate.

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