In three of the past four years, Denmark has ranked first in the World Happiness Report, the index that lists 155 nations in order of happiness levels. This year, however, the Danes find themselves in second, left in the shadow of a new claimant to the throne, uncomfortably close to home.
Despite its astronomical prices and terrible football team, Norway has been ranked the happiest nation in the world by Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative for the UN.
“It’s a remarkable case in point. By choosing to produce oil deliberately and investing the proceeds for the benefit of future generations, Norway has protected itself from the volatile ups and downs of many other oil-rich economies,” commented Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, one of the report’s editors.
“This emphasis on the future over the present is made easier by high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance. All of these are found in Norway, as well as in the other top countries.”
The top five on the index are mostly an all-Nordic affair, with Iceland, Switzerland and Finland taking the rest of the places. The Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden completed the top 10.
Other notables included Costa Rica (12), the US (14), Germany (16), the UK (19), Brazil (22), France (31), Russia (49), Japan (51), South Korea (56), China (79) and India (122).
As expected, the nations at the opposite end of the spectrum were those plagued by poverty and conflict. Central African Republic ranked last and was preceded by Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda.