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World’s Happiest Countries:

According to World Values Survey , the world’s happiest countries are:

1. Denmark

Population:
5,484,723
Life Expectancy: 78
GDP Per Capita: $37,400

The center of world happiness is neither an Alpine fantasy getaway nor a topaz Caribbean paradise. It’s a cold, windy, maritime nation on the North Sea that Vikings once called home and which was the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Danes proudly attribute their status as the world’s happiest country to a balance in managing a free and powerful economy, high standards in education, social safety nets, and wide acceptance of outsiders. Kate Vial, an American expat who has lived in Denmark for more than 30 years, says that the attitude among Danish people is summed up in one word—”hygge” (pronounced hooga). Difficult to translate and even harder to comprehend, hygge roughly describes a cozy, convivial sentiment that involves strong family bonds. “The gist of it is that you are not supposed to have anything to do except let go,” Vial says.

2. Puerto Rico

Population: 3,958,128
Life Expectancy: 79
GDP Per Capita: $19,600

With the U.S. rated at a disappointing 16th on the list of happiest countries, the World Values Survey saw fit to separate Puerto Rico, an American territory that’s culturally closer to its Latin American cousins. The result: The self-described “Island of Enchantment” ranked No. 2 in the world, despite having per capita income lower than Mississippi and receiving less than 15% of the Medicaid funding it would be allotted as a state. But Puerto Ricans, who enjoy permanent summer weather, a vibrant musical heritage, and idyllic emerald beaches, pay no federal income taxes.

3. Colombia

Population: 45,013,674
Life Expectancy: 73
GDP Per Capita: $6,700

Today it’s the world’s third happiest country, but “cocaine” and “cartel” are traditionally more easily associated with Colombia than “carefree” and “contented.” The change: Surging tourism and economic growth have accompanied the South American country’s efforts in recent years to reassert control over its decades-old rebel violence and lucrative drug operations. Even though per capita income is far lower than in the top 10 countries, Colombia’s literacy rate is 94%, well above the world average. And the ethnically tolerant country supports thriving coastal communities of Arabs, Jews, Italians, Germans, French, Portuguese, and Roma descendants.

4. Iceland

Population: 304,367
Life Expectancy: 81
GDP Per Capita: $38,800

It’s not as icy as its name suggests. No. 4-ranked Iceland, an island nation at the edge of the Arctic Circle, is home to a happy community of coastal residents who enjoy almost unparalleled economic and civic freedoms. Priding itself on egalitarian values, Iceland elected its first female head of state in 1980, and in 1996, Parliament passed legislation to create registered partnerships for same-sex couples, covering nearly all the rights and benefits of marriage. Additionally, with 99% fuel independence and no standing army, Icelanders appear confident about their future security.

5. Northern Ireland

Only 10 years ago, Northern Ireland was wracked by grisly religious violence known as “The Troubles” that killed thousands of Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists. Now, thanks to peace, Northern Ireland—officially a “constituent country” of Britain—has emerged just ahead of Ireland to occupy fifth place among the world’s happiest countries. Since the start of ceasefires in the 1990s, millions of British pounds have been invested in the regeneration of Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, and a newfound pride and optimism is keeping young talent from emigrating. Like Ireland, the strengthening economy also is attracting foreign labor.

6. Ireland

Population: 4,156,119
Life Expectancy: 78
GDP Per Capita: $43,100

“Luck o’ the Irish” aptly summarizes the surprising optimism that pervades life in this sixth-ranked country, where the pub lies at the heart of cultural, social, and political life. Ireland’s starkly beautiful maritime scenery and captivating, lyrical language may explain some of its happiness, but economics likely play an even bigger role. Only a century ago, the Irish were fleeing famine and poverty by the millions. But since the 1990s, the “Celtic Tiger” has roared to life, turning Ireland into the second wealthiest country per capita in the world, behind only Japan. The change has brought hundreds of thousands of new workers from Eastern Europe and Asia to a place that now offers relative political stability and free education at all levels, as well as a focus on traditional values.

7. Switzerland

Population:
7,581,520
Life Expectancy:
81
GDP Per Capita:
$41,100

A stable government and a tradition of neutrality in the historical wars of its neighbors have helped make Switzerland a stronghold of banking and one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Its fairy-tale alpine setting offers breathtaking views at the top of the world. And its mixed population is an accepted facet of life: German, French, and Italian are all national languages, and two women have been elected president there since 1998. The Swiss also enjoy an unmatched degree of “direct democracy,” whereby citizens are able to directly petition the government to hold referenda that can topple laws passed by parliament.

8. Netherlands

Population:
16,654,313
Life Expectancy:
79
GDP Per Capita:
$38,500

Europe’s most densely populated country, the Netherlands’ famously liberal approach to recreational drugs, prostitution, homosexuality, abortion, and euthanasia make it the most socially tolerant society in the world—a factor that may contribute to its ranking as the eighth-happiest. Religion, on the other hand, plays little role: Fewer than 20% of people go to church in what has become a largely secular country. Unemployment is the lowest in Europe, and the U.N. Children’s Fund ranks the Netherlands first in the world for child well-being.

9. Canada

Population: 33,212,696
Life Expectancy: 81
GDP Per Capita: $38,400

Hard winters and a mind-numbingly vast expanse of land don’t get the world’s ninth-happiest people down. A member of the Group of Eight industrialized countries, Canada has enjoyed a rapidly growing economy since the early 1990s. Equalization payments are spread among richer and poorer provinces to maintain a balance in federal administration. Strong nationalism, ethnic and religious tolerance, and a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants and refugees also factor into Canada’s status as one of the world’s happiest countries.

10. Austria

Population: 8,205,533
Life Expectancy: 79
GDP Per Capita: $38,400

With a high standard of living, first-rate schools, and some of the best alpine real estate in Europe, this home of musical talents ranging from Mozart to the Von Trapp Family ranks happily at No. 10 in the world. Once the seat of the Hapsburg Empire, which reached as far east as Ukraine and Transylvania and as far south as Bosnia, Austria today supports a heterogeneous mix of people. Thousands of Hungarians and Croats live within its borders, as well as Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Jews, making Austria one of the most pluralistic nations in Western Europe.

According to Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the world’s happiest countries are:

1. Denmark

Satisfaction With Present Life: 90.1*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 92.3*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $68,362**

Unemployment Rate: 2%***
2. Finland

Satisfaction With Present Life: 85.9*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 88.0*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $55,344**

Unemployment Rate: 6.4%***

3. Netherlands

Satisfaction With Present Life: 85.1*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 88.2*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $55,453**

Unemployment Rate: 4.5%***
4. Sweden

Satisfaction With Present Life: 82.7*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 85.6*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $54,908**

Unemployment Rate: 6.4%***

5. Ireland

Satisfaction With Present Life: 81.1*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 91.4*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $63,788**

Unemployment Rate: 6.2%***
6. Canada

Satisfaction With Present Life: 78.0*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 87.3*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $46,799**

Unemployment Rate: 6.1%***
7.  Switzerland

Satisfaction With Present Life: 77.4*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 80.9*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $65,563**

Unemployment Rate: 3%***
8. New Zealand

Satisfaction With Present Life: 76.7*

Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 85.5*

2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $30,556**

Unemployment Rate: 4%***
9. Norway

Satisfaction With Present Life: 76.5*
Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life:
84.3*
2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita:
$98,822**
Unemployment Rate:
2.6%***

10. Belgium

Satisfaction With Present Life: 76.3
Predicted Satisfaction With Future Life: 75.5
2009 Gross Domestic Product Per Capita: $49,888
Unemployment Rate: 6.5%

Absolute World’s Happiest Countries

So merging the two lists, the following countries are the “absolute world’s happiest countries” – these countries appears on both lists:
1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Ireland
4. Netherlands
5. Canada

And the following countries appear on one list or the other list:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Colombia
  • Iceland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Belgium
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