Just Wanderlust Blog » A discerning, food-loving, & culturally curious road warrior seeks the world's beautiful and bizarre destinations.

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The Top 20 Happiest Countries In The World Are…

(Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark; photo credit)

The 2012 World Happiness Report, commissioned for the United Nations to understand the state of happiness in the world, was just released last week, and is it no wonder that the top spots are held by Nordic countries?

Having lived in Sweden, I got spend a lot of time learning about Scandinavian culture, government, and daily life… and I have to say, the worst thing about the region is probably its cold weather — if you can manage that, it’s pretty much as close to utopia as you can get!

Here are the top 20 Happiest Countries:

1. Denmark

2. Finland

3. Norway

4. Netherlands

5. Canada

6. Switzerland

7. Sweden

8. New Zealand

9. Australia

10. Ireland

11. USA

12. Costa Rica

13. Austria

14. Israel

15. Belgium

16. Luxembourg

17. United Arab Emirates

18. United Kingdom

19. Venezuela

20. Iceland

Incidentally, if you’re interested in the subject of happiness AND you love to travel, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search For The Happiest Places On Earth.  It was a hilarious and engaging read as you follow the author’s candid accounts as he talks to locals in the happiest countries on earth as well as in the saddest country on earth all with the intent of trying to figure out what makes a place happier than another — what a great excuse to travel, right?  I wish I had thought of that!

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Chris - January 20, 2013 - 9:49 am


Don’t you think it’s strange that every list I find, is different?? Most top twenty haven’t Belgium in their list, yours I see it on the fifteenth place. So I wonder how seriously these list can be believed, when they all differs.


Just Wanderlust - February 2, 2013 - 11:31 pm

I think the lists are different depending on the criteria they used to determine “happiness”. Some surveys go off of standard of living, others off of what people report is their level of happiness based on a scale, etc…. Also, as with any survey, there’s always statistical error and/or the possibility that their participants weren’t as “random” as they had hoped. Either way, the lists are interesting but I’d take it with a grain of salt. It’s entertaining to see the results and while they don’t always match, I have noticed that the countries up north tend to rank higher for some reason.

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