The World’s 10 Happiest Countries

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The International Day of Happiness is celebrated throughout the world on March 20. All members of the United Nations have decided that happiness should be given more importance as it is a “fundamental human goal”.

How do you measure happiness?

The first ever UN conference on happiness took place in 2012 when it was agreed that happiness can be measured by a scale, based on ten ‘keys’.

The first five keys are about interacting with the outside world. Giving - do things for other people. Relating – connect with other people. Exercising – take care of other people. Awareness – live life mindfully. Trying out – keep learning new things.

The next five keys are about looking inwards at our attitude to life. Direction – have goals to look forward to. Resilience – find ways to bounce back. Emotions – look for what’s good. Acceptance – be comfortable with who you are. Meaning – be part of something bigger.

What are the world’s happiest countries?

Every year the UN measures quality of life for people around the world using surveys and data. Since the first survey in 2013, the same 10 countries have always come out on top. Here they are, in reverse order:

10. Sweden which has an incredibly strong sense of community. ‘Fika’ which roughly translates as break-time, is a national pastime. Locals meet over coffee to catch up and discuss public and personal events.

9. Australia also has a strong sense of community. Combined with low levels of pollution, and lots of involvement in civic life, Australia ranks highly in the happiness stakes.

8. New Zealand, like Australia, has low levels of pollution and very diverse beautiful landscape. New Zealanders take pride in protecting nature in their local area and across the country.

7. People in the Netherlands are the most physically active in the world. Cyclists are particularly welcome, and there are 20,000 miles of bike lanes.

6. Canada is a liberal and welcoming country, and there is a lot of space for its citizens to spread out and enjoy the good life.

5. With a population of only 5.2 million, it’s easy in Finland for everyone to get along with each other. The national pastime of taking a sauna helps. There are 3.3 million saunas in the country.

4. The large amount of magnificent outdoor spaces in Norway keeps its population very happy. You are legally allowed to pitch your tent anywhere you like.

3. Iceland, despite the major recession of 2008, remains high up the happiness scale. The population enjoys living in the lively town of Reykjavík or in the countryside with its volcanoes and beaches.

2. Switzerland is a rich country which makes its inhabitants very happy, apparently. They enjoy the ski slopes, chocolate and many open spaces.

1. Denmark is named the world’s happiest country almost every year. Its citizens enjoy free public services like education and health care, and a close-knit sense of community.

Find out more about the International Day of Happiness.