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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.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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)

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. No wonder the hygge trend has been so popular. We could and should learn a thing or two from these top listed countries from the way they live. I’ve never been to Finland, Denmark or Norway but I’m certainly curious what they’re like. An old friend of mine has been to Norway a couple of times now as he likes to ski there and he adores the place.

    Unsurprisingly our little UK doesn’t make it in the top 10 list! No 15 is still a lot higher than I’d expected. I think we’re lucky with things like the NHS and freedom of speech, but we know so many things in our country can and should be better than they are. We have high levels of crime, mental health problems, social inequality, and now Brexit is driving everyone mad. I imagine we’ll slide down the list by 2020. It’s interesting to see that most of these top 10 places have a far greater focus on green spaces, nature and outdoors pursuits and a calmer way of life in general. That definitely tells you something about the correlations between stress, nature and happiness.

  16. Finland definitely sounds like a fun and happy destination. Would love to visit the country someday!

    Bit surprised to see Nepal so low on the list but I hope Nepal makes a comeback next year.

  17. Keep on deceiving urseff. Anyways its ur opinion, same way I and every other persons have our personal opinions so ur opinion only matters for u and u alone

    1. No, it’s not my opinion. Perhaps you missed this paragraph:

      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.

  18. I’m visiting Canada in February. Very excited to face the negative degree temperature and snow :) Canada sounds like a fun and happy destination in the world. Would love to visit the country!

  19. The post includes some amazing countries in the world. But, what about Bhutan? I couldn’t believe Bhutan was ranked in the 95th position. Also, disappointed to see Nepal in the 100th position. Hope Nepal, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, will rise in the coming days in terms of happiness too.

  20. 1. Finland
    2. Denmark
    3. Norway

    Great to see top three of most happiest country. Hopefully the ranks of Bhutan “Land of Happiness” and Nepal “Birthplace of Gautam Buddha” improve. Nepal and Bhutan best known for Himalayas Nation, surely mesmerize travelers with great scenery and hospitality. And i pray the current scenario covad-19 end soon and everyone be healthy and explore freely.

  21. I had the best experience of exploring Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Culture, Himalayas and Peoples were alluring. I find the areas so peaceful and enchanting i was literally in tears boarding back to home.

  22. I’m from America, so this list is very enlightening to me. To show that what makes lasting happiness is a strong social safety net and a sense of community rather than just making money … is one of the most important lessons. That’s really learned from traveling to these places too!

  23. I am from Nepal and Nepali people are one of the happiest people in the world. Hope Nepal will increase in the list.

  24. Great article. I would like to know the parameters with which these conclusions were made because happiness is a varying attribute and it differs according to the people.

  25. Great to read this article. But, where is Japan, Bhutan and many other countries that are regarded to have the happiest people?

  26. Happiness is an internal state of mind. More we look with in the more authentic quality of experience we experience. There is a need to consider clarity of inner being for evaluation of happiness index.

  27. I thought Bhutan was the happiest country. But, surprised to see Bhutan out of the list. Apart from being a developing country, Nepal also has welcoming hearts for all travelers around the world. Nepalese will also include themselves in the list someday.

  28. Well written article. I am pretty sure that Nepal will improve it a lot in coming day. People are nice and friendly in here. Hope other indicator will radically improve soon

  29. Probably Bhutan is the most happiest country in the earth. Nepal a country with slogan “Guest like a god”.
    Amazing welcoming hospitality here. we will progress day by day.

  30. I thing Bhutan was the happiest country. but happy to see these list
    Thank You guys for the information

  31. Hey Paul, it’s great to see that Nepal has made it to the list of the top 100 happiest countries in the world. Personally I believe Nepal deserves an even higher position in the ranking. Despite facing numerous challenges, the people of Nepal exhibit remarkable tolerance and still in consistent state of happiness:)

  32. Hey Paul,
    I noticed that the list is from 2019. Could you please share the latest version? Also, I’m curious to know if Finland is still holding the top position on the current list.

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