Which country has been declared the happiest in the world?

UN International Day of Happiness logo (Juniperusco)UN International Day of Happiness logo (Juniperusco)Released to coincide with the UN International Day of Happiness on 20th March, the World Happiness Report measures how happy people are in different countries, and why. According to the report, Norway is officially the happiest country on Earth. Denmark (which was previously number one), Iceland, Switzerland and Finland are the next four happiest nations, while the Central African Republic is the least happy. The US came 14th and the UK 19th. Other countries in Western Europe and North America dominate the top of table. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well those torn by war, such as Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, have the lowest scores.

Happy Bangladeshi children (mahmud.rassel)Happy Bangladeshi children (mahmud.rassel)The World Happiness Report 2017The World Happiness Report 2017
The list was produced by asking more than 1000 people in 155 countries this simple question: "Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?" The average score (from 10, happiest, to 1, least happy) in each country ranged from Norway's 7.54 to the Central African Republic's 2.69. 

World Happiness Map 2016 (Tycragg)World Happiness Map 2016 (Tycragg)The report also tries to explain why one country is happier than another. It looks at several factors that contribute to happiness: caring, freedom to make choices in life, generosity, good governance (including freedom from corruption), honesty, health and income. A country’s economic strength (measured in Gross Domestic Product per head) is also a key measure.

Celebrating Norway's national day (I.H. Døskeland)Celebrating Norway's national day (I.H. Døskeland)Norway rose to the top of the rankings despite a decline in oil prices. The report says: "By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies."

Schoolchildren from Bhutan (ryanne lai)Schoolchildren from Bhutan (ryanne lai)
Credit for the idea of World Happiness Day goes to the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan. Its prime minister, Jigme Thinley, first proposed it to the United Nations in 2011. The first World Happiness Report was published in April 2012. Bhutan is the only country to have officially adopted “Gross National Happiness” instead of Gross Domestic Product as its main development indicator. The Bhutan GNH Index takes into account eight general contributors to happiness. They are: physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality.

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