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Can You Guess the 20 Happiest Countries in the World? Hint: America Makes the List

The 2023 World Happiness Report has arrived, and some people won’t be surprised by where the rankings stand. We’re looking at you, Nordic countries. Despite the global impacts of the pandemic, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, happiness figures remained relatively similar to pre-pandemic data.

Rock Those Pearly Whites

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The World Happiness Report’s most recent data analyzed the three-year period from 2020 to 2022. Several variables were weighed in the rankings, including life expectancy, GDP, freedom, trust, social support, and generosity. These life evaluations were gathered from Gallup World Pull’s data.

#1 Finland

Snowboarding in Finland.
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Finland has spent six years as the number one happiest country in the world on the World Happiness Report. It earned a high index value of 7.8, placing it well before its fellow Nordic countries.

#2 Denmark

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Denmark came in second place, with a 7.59 happiness index value. As with Finland, Danish residents enjoy low crime and corruption. Other factors contributing to Demark’s high happiness rating include a strong sense of equality and social welfare.

#3 Iceland

Northern lights in Iceland.
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Iceland ranked a hair under Denmark as one of the happiest countries in the world, having an index value of 7.53. The Land of Fire and Ice may be a harsh place to live climate-wise, but its residents enjoy many factors like freedom and trust that keep them happier than average.

#4 Israel

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Israel has a 7.47 happiness index value. It may be a surprise to some, given the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Israel ranked especially strong in the social support category. Whereas many countries’ residents spend most of their social time with technology, Israelis have a strong face-to-face social culture with a large emphasis on family and religious bonding.

#5 Netherlands

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The Netherlands had a happiness index value of 7.4, making it a country that continues to enjoy a high ranking on the World Happiness Report. Residents reported good employee satisfaction in the Netherlands. The Dutch also indicated they have high levels of social, well-being, and mental health support.

#6 Sweden

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Sweden and the Netherlands were practically tied, with just a 0.008 difference in their happiness index values. Living in Sweden comes with perks that residents from many countries don’t have, including free education and healthcare. Furthermore, Swedes have a lot to be positive about for the future, for they’re making cutting-edge advances in technology and pharmacy.

#7 Norway

Fishing village in Norway.
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Norway’s happiness index value clocked in at 7.32. Norwegians have high life expectancies, large amounts of freedom, and a generous culture, all contributing to their happiness ranking. Furthermore, residents reported satisfaction with their social support systems and their country’s economic growth.

#8 Switzerland

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The land of chocolate and the Alps is notorious for its happy, friendly locals. It has a happiness index value of 7.24. Swiss residents often boast about their country’s high level of organization, cleanliness, and punctuality. They enjoy high levels of freedom, and many feel well-supported by their social circles.

#9 Luxembourg

View of downtown Luxembourg City.
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Luxembourg may be small by size, but its residents are bursting at the seams with happiness, according to the World Happiness Report, which gave it a 7.23 index rating. Material life conditions and financial satisfaction were some of the biggest contributors to Luxembourg enjoying a top ten spot on the list.

#10 New Zealand

Road through mountains of New Zealand.
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Move over Europe (and Israel); it’s time to give another world region some love. The World Happiness Report gave New Zealand a happiness index of 7.12, just above neighboring Australia. The feeling of social support, both on a government and personal level, is one of the categories that ranked high, helping to squeeze New Zealand into one of the coveted top ten happiest countries in the world.

#11 Austria

Mountains in Hallstatt Austria.
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Austria has a happiness index of 7.1. They have a great reputation for being a friendly, helpful culture, bringing joy to their lives. Perhaps a part of why Austrians are so happy is because of how much vacation time they receive. By law, full-time employees are granted five weeks of annual paid leave each year.

#12 Australia

Kangaroo sign in Australia.
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The Land Down Under has plenty to boast about, having a happiness index of only 0.002 less than Austria. As with Austria, Australians reported an excellent work-life balance, offering them more time to socialize with family and friends and to do the activities they love.

#13 Canada

Banff mountains and lake.
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The World Happiness Report ranked Canada in thirteenth place, with a happiness index of 6.96. Much of the reason for this high ranking is because Canada is a Common-Interest State. That means it does an excellent job of bringing its citizens together, contributing to high life satisfaction.

#14 Ireland

Castle ruins in Irish countryside.
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Ireland has a 6.91 ranking on the happiness index. While you might be inclined to contribute that to beer, the Irish’s satisfaction with their standard of living makes them stand out in the rankings. Strong family bonds are another reason Irish residents are jolly.

#15 United States

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The U.S. came in 15th place this year on the World Happiness Report, just 0.017 points away from tying with Ireland’s index ranking. Americans are notorious for having bubbling, outgoing personalities, something that’s a pet peeve to certain other cultures. The United States’ strong GDP and promotion of living the American dream have contributed to the States landing a spot in the top 20 happiest countries.

#16 Germany

Rothenburg Germany downtown.
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Germany is nearly tied with the U.S. for having the happiest residents, with a happiness index of only 0.002 lower. Some reasons for Germany’s ranking include access to health care, good education, and the option for people to participate in many different hobbies and sports groups.

#17 Belgium

Autumn in Bruges.
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Belgium is no stranger to being among the top 20 happiest countries in the world, with a happiness index of 6.86 this year. The data shows that Belgians are about as happy as before the pandemic. That said, there appears to be a growing generational gap in happiness, with people from 18 to 34 years old reporting lower happiness levels than Belgians outside that age group.

#18 Czechia

View of Prague.
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Czechia, which also goes by the Czech Republic, has a happiness index of 6.85. The country scores high for safety and emphasizes taking time to relax. Czechs also enjoy a high standard of living for a relatively affordable cost compared to many other countries on this list.

#19 United Kingdom

Big Ben Tower in London.
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The United Kingdom (UK) reached 19th place with a happiness index of 6.8. Although the British are notorious for being blunt, their straightforwardness could contribute to their mental well-being since there’s rarely second-guessing about what someone might be implying. UK residents also enjoy a universal healthcare system.

#20 Lithuania

Vilnius skyline.
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Lithuania squeezed into 20th place in the World Happiness Report this year with a happiness index of 6.8. A strong economic outlook and the country finding its pace of life after the post-1990 transition has helped give Lithuania a new identity. And luckily for Lithuanians, it appears to be a happy one.

Happiness Is Steady

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The 2023 World Happiness Report can be a trick of the eyes if you remember their 2022 data. Nineteen out of 20 countries remained in the top 20 this year, with Lithuania being the exception.

Lithuania made great strides in the happiness rankings, increasing from 52nd place in 2017 to 20th place this year. France got the boot from the top 20, ranking in 21st place.

The Most Unhappy Countries

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Afghanistan ranked in 137th place as the least happy country that the World Happiness Report analyzed. Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo were in 2nd to 5th places for being the most unhappy, respectively.

A lack of safety, distrust, low life expectancies, corruption, and low GDP numbers are some of the reasons these countries ranked so low.

Discrepancies in the Data

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Some people feel that the World Happiness Report’s results are misleading. Many of us view happiness as a feeling. Based on positive emotion alone, Latin American countries would have taken up many top spots, with Paraguay and Guatemala leading the way.

However, GDP per capita and freedom from oppression weighted down the ability of these countries to rank higher. Similarly, many African countries, including Togo and Senegal, would have ranked higher on this list had the feeling of living a meaningful life been given more weight as a happiness factor.

Spreading Kindness

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The fact that the World Happiness Report has been running its data for so many years makes it an excellent tool for noticing trends. One of the most notable is that many participants for the 2023 report indicated they experienced more acts of kindness than before the pandemic.

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Man holding gun in his back pocket in a city.
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11 Tips for Sleeping Like a Baby on Planes

Man sleeping on a plane.
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This data inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by A Piece of Travel.

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