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February 16, 2007

The World Map of Happiness


Adrian G. White, a psychologist at the University of Leicester, produced a “world map of happiness.” The study reflects data from UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR.

The twenty happiest countries are:

  1. Denmark

  2. Switzerland

  3. Austria

  4. Iceland

  5. The Bahamas

  6. Finland

  7. Sweden

  8. Bhutan

  9. Brunei

  10. Canada

  11. Ireland

  12. Luxembourg

  13. Costa Rica

  14. Malta

  15. The Netherlands

  16. Antigua and Barbuda

  17. Malaysia

  18. New Zealand

  19. Norway

  20. The Seychelles

Other rankings: USA (23), France (62), China (82) Japan (90), India (125). Fortunately, I am married to a Danish woman.


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ha ha! France is # 62? Paris should be last on the list, ha ha ha!

Hey where is South America! Damn! We are happy here also

I don't want to sound negative, but this is a perfect example that ignorance is a bliss. I lived in Denmark for past three years, I have a Danish girlfriend and live currently in Japan (number 90 on the list). I would say that despite the fact that I love Denmark, most Danes are happy because they are ignorant of the problems of the world and of their own society. They live in their little country, preserving the "danish lifestyle" and "hygge" and they are happy. I say cheers to that! But I have to disagree with Lovendahl's post. Non-existent poverty? Well functioning society? I call that Danish dream. Sorry.

Donde esta the U.S.

Good use for the American's tax money again.

If the Finnish people are so happy, why do they do so many suicides?
And if they are so happy, why don't you ever see any happy Finnish people in Finland? All the happy people you ever see in that country are the Americans.

Here you can find the complete list. I found it searching for Italy ranking (#50).

NEF has a similar list, which is based on a less documented calculation, but takes account into Ecological Footprint, a detail often forgotten, and not just by Adrian.

Isn't happiness more personal than about a state? What happens if in a state of a hundred people, 50 are happy for half a year and unhappy for the rest? Or if they were millionares at the beginning of the year and then lost their wealth somewhere along the line? Or fell sick for a 4th of the year? How would that be measured?

I think I am happy most of the time. And that's got nothing to do with geography I might be at!

Here is a some inside information about Danes and why they are so happy. Not only is it a very well functioning country, where poverty is non-existing, but also a small country, where expectation are equally low. And since things tends to always go well, we keep getting pleasantly surprised. In business terms Danes under forecast and over deliver = happiest people. Or an Olympic example - If Denmark wins 2 gold medals at the Olympics we are extremely satisfied. How many gold medals will it take for the US, China or India to be satisfied?

Norway, Iceland and Finnland, countries with highest suicide rates in the world among the 20 happiest? hm...

How did they measure this?
I guess a country with positive people like the filippines should have been in the front..

#13. Costa Rica...sounds about right...at least for me. :)

Regardless of where you are, I guess each individual has a lot of power to determine their own happiness.


You are an idiot.

Hi - I live in number 23.
No I am not happy.
I am not content, so how can I be happy?
I want to personally be more successful in all facets of my life AND make the world a better place.
I would go crazy living someplace where the general philosophy is "take it easy" and "relax and enjoy what you have".
That is what makes (IMO!) number 23 a great place to live: We are not happy simply existing, we want to do and be better.

"the list contains "countries" not races" good take, e.g. more than 20% of Swiss pop are foreigners.

This map isn't bad, but I think it would be better done as a Cartogram, where happiness is shown as the area of the polygon that represents each country. Right now it is a Choropleth map, where the color represents the value.

One major problem with the map is the legend, where it goes from Happy to Unhappy, but doesn't describe the levels at all. The reader knows that the happiest group is happy, but how much less happier are the countries in the second highest group in comparison with the top group?

I don't know, I live in Switzerland, where you don't often see people smiling while walking down the street. Are people that happy here?

I'm with the guy who was also shocked Thailand isn't on the list. I've spent time (more than a visit) in many of the top 20, and I can assure you Thais would rank in the top 5 and Costa Rica? -- maybe up until last year, man is that place turning sour overnight.

Hey Guy,
I am happy to see that Malaysia has been ranked among the top 20 countries to be happy to live in.
I think it is because of the mixed race, mixed religion, mixed tradition and mixed climate that made it ranked high.
Whatever it is, 2007 is VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR. Do try to visit MALAYSIA to witness the COLOUR OF ASIA.



Canada is a small country by population, if not area.

Most of these countries could be characterized as somewhat socialist in nature. At the very least, a streak of non-capitalism runs through the blood. Concern for the common good is a postive thing for happiness.

I'm frankly shocked Thailand, "land of a thousand smiles", isn't on there!

Well, I'm Swiss but left the country more than thirty years ago mainly because I wasn't too happy there as a young man with the ambition to discover what lies out there. I since lived in Japan, Canada, United Kingdom and the past thirteen years the U.S. Does that still qualify me a happy Swiss, I wonder!

Your blog is awesome. Your philosophy is really enlightening. Are you working on a book???? I think part of the key to happiness is making yourself believe that the world is indeed unfolding as it should.


My name is Daniel. I'm Austrian. Austria is ranked 3rd. And although our country has "created" Mozart and even Schwarzenegger - just to name the Good Guys -, I'll have to tell you this: This can't be true! Some Austrians must be the most complaining people on the planet, it seems. E.g. the weather (but you can also take politics, economy, etc.): We have the warmest winter ever. Still, the people complain about it and say it's still too cold! I think being "unhappy" somehow built into most of us.... Like a feature designed to be cool, but failing completely, like some kind of stomach muscle building device or so. ;)
But on the other hand the survey - if it's valid at all - may inspire us to live more happily. So let's see it that way....

Keep on Dreaming of Dakar!

Hint: Read the story linked in the first paragraph of Guy's post prior to posting a comment. Like all scientific studies, words are defined in specific ways. In this case, determining the "happiness" of a state is not an exact science, and "happiness" (or the satisfaction with life) is identified using three predictor variables of health, wealth, and education. Can you be happy and depressed? Yes. Happy and repressed? Yes. Happy and dead? No. Unless you are The Joker.

Canada is not a big country. Population wise.

Anybody for running a correlation with the Child Poverty Report released by UNICEF earlier this week?

Studies like that show up all the time, and they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Only the media take that stuff seriously.

Congratulations on being married to a danish woman though. (Am Danish myself :) )

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