Finland Has Been Named The Happiest Country On Earth
Finland has a lot going for it, despite being so far north that the winters must last a lifetime. The nation's lack of light clearly doesn't stop them finding their own rays of sunshine, though, as the Nordic nation has been named the happiest country on Earth.
The country pipped last year's winner Norway to came top of the World Happiness Report, which ranked 156 countries on their happiness levels considering factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.
Interestingly, Nordic countries dominated the top five with Norway, Denmark, and Iceland following just behind Finland according to the report, published every year since 2012 by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
The UK and US were nowhere near the top ten - the UK finished 19th, one place above the United Arab Emirates, while it seems America's actually getting less happy, dropping four places from 14th to 18th.
At least neither of those Western powerhouses is as unhappy as the East African nation of Burundi, which finished rock bottom of the happiness index.
Meik Wiking, CEO of the Denmark-based Happiness Research Institute, said the five Nordic nations reliably rank high in the index because they 'are doing something right in terms of creating good conditions for good lives'.
Wiking explained that while people in Nordic nations pay some of the highest taxes in the world, that price is well worth it for the levels of personal freedom and social security their countries give them.
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''Briefly put, (Nordic countries) are good at converting wealth into well-being," Wiking said, according to the Daily Mail. He added that the finding "shows the conditions that we live under matter greatly to our quality of life, that happiness is not only a matter of choice."
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Behind Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, the top ten of this year's ranking was rounded out by Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
Interestingly, unlike past years, this year's report also evaluated 117 countries based on the happiness and well-being of their immigrants as well as the happiness of their own citizens.
John Helliwell, co-editor of the World Happiness Report and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia, pointed out that all the top ten nations scored highest in both overall happiness and their immigrants' happiness - suggesting that happiness is infectious.
"The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born," Helliwell said. "Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose."
It's worth noting that the US has never been in the top ten of the index, even though the country is actually richer now than it was last year.
Researchers put the US' fall this year down to a 'public health crisis' caused by issues like obesity and depression. The country also has a socio-economic system which leads to more income equality - a major factor in unhappiness - than other high income nations.
Just goes to show that money does't buy you happiness. It's how you use it that counts - and looks like Finland are doing that pretty well.
Featured Image Credit: PA