Top 10 happiest countries across the globe – World Happiness Index

happiness index happiest countries

How happy are you? Where is the world’s happiest place? The world’s happiest people aren’t in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren’t in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Surprisingly the citizens of the poorest countries have topped the list of world happiness index. What is the secret of their happiness?

According to scientists, people in poor countries can find joy in the moral satisfaction that often is not available to citizens of the developed countries.

Gallup, The American Institute of Public Opinion, conducted a study to find out which country had the happiest citizens. The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index 2013, surveyed 135 countries worldwide, 133,000 residents per country and assessed each nation’s happiness index across five categories: physical, financial, social, community and purpose.

People were asked five questions, all about the ways they spent the previous day. They were asked whether they felt joy, whether they felt rested and how often they laughed and smiled. In addition, the researchers asked whether their interviewees felt respected by their peers, as well as whether they learned something new the day before.

Here are the 10 happiest countries as per world happiness index report.


1. Panama (Happiness Index – 61%)


Positivity runs rampant in Panama. Even though Panama is one of the poorest countries in the world, it has a very high well-being score. Panama had the highest scores in the world in four of the five well-being elements- purpose, social, community and physical well-being. 61% percent of Panamanians were thriving in three or more elements, the survey found.

World analysts note that Panama is a country where people can be quite happy with their living conditions. Perhaps a rising standard of living and growing economy have something to do with it. Panama has a lot to offer to visitors too, including untrampled beaches and a festive cultural atmosphere filled with plenty of dances.


2. Costa Rica (Happiness Index – 44%)


A land of unparalleled beauty, this Central American gem came in second, with 44% of its people thriving in three or more elements of well-being. With an abundance of natural beauty- from beaches to volcanoes to rainforests, Costa Ricans appreciate their bounty.

The local saying ‘Pura vida’, loosely translates as ‘Life is good’. And here in Costa Rica, life is pure happiness too.


3. Denmark (Happiness Index- 40%)


It is no surprise that the small Scandinavian nation with a population of 5.5 million is one of  the world’s happiest country in this year’s World Happiness Index Report. Since 1973, the Danes have also topped the European Commission’s Eurobarometer scale, where member states are surveyed to measure the well-being and happiness of its citizens.

Again, its capital city Copenhagen was also named the ‘world’s most liveable city’ earlier this year by the international affairs magazine Monocle for its quality of life. A strong civil society with high level of trust among the citizens, a good work-life balance and a high level of social security are causes of happiness of the Danes.


4. Austria (Happiness Index- 39%)


The mountainous landlocked country of 8.47 million people, known for its rich music and arts scene, was also ranked among the happiest countries in the world. Between Alpine views, fairytale-like architecture and a lively cultural scene, Austria has got plenty to keep its residents chirpy.


5. Brazil (Happiness Index- 39%)


With phenomenal beaches, a vibrant soccer culture and some of the sexiest women on the planet, Brazil is among the world’s most attractive destinations. Brazil holds a charmed place in the public imagination; thanks to its unparalleled physical beauty, its rich art and culture and the incredible warmth with which Brazilians welcome visitors to the country.

Brazilians are world famous for their celebration of Carnival, the annual festival that precedes Lent. Between the larger than life costumes, infectiously dance-friendly music and joyful processions, it would be easy to think that the Brazil is the best place to celebrate holidays.


6. El Salvador (Happiness Index- 37%)

el salvador

Even though this country is overshadowed by neighbouring Guatemala and Mexico as hot tourist destinations, locals are content with what they have- friendly neighbours, hearty comfort food like yummy Pupusas and Chicharron and under-the-radar beaches.

Whether trekking through a cloud forest, surfing, soaking in the impressive architecture or wandering around San Salvador’s art galleries, there’s plenty to keep the residents smiling in this lively central American nation.


7. Uruguay (Happiness Index- 37%)


Expanses of serene nature, gorgeous sandy beaches, and natural thermal baths like the ones at Termas de Daymán make Uruguay one of the best places to relax in South America.


8. Sweden (Happiness Index- 36%)


A high level of interpersonal trust and an individualistic social culture contribute to this country’s overall level of happiness. Sweden, as in many other developed countries, has reached a critical level of the large-scale social factors that are important to happiness. Also, it is possible that the effective use of time explains why happiness levels in Sweden have been so stable. Without a doubt its natural scenery and Viking heritage is the icing on the cake.


9. Canada (Happiness Index- 34%)


With a high average life expectancy and average income, Canada ranked ninth in this year’s World Happiness Index Report. 94% of Canadians believe they know someone they could rely on in the time of need while 82% say they have more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones, according to the Better Life Index of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The polite behaviour of Canadians, the lovely weather and the income equality of its residents contribute to the happiness index of this country.


10. Guatemala (Happiness Index- 34%)


Its really surprising that Guatemala, a country torn by decades of civil war followed by waves of gang-driven criminality, ranked high on the list of the happiest countries in the world. Despite all their problems, Guatemalans are sustained by all the magical beauty that surrounds them-mountains, volcanoes and sacred Maya ruins.

Here is a table of top 10 happiest countries in the world with the percentage of people who are ‘thriving’ in three or more of the elements of well-being:

happiness index

Happiness is nothing but a state of mind. There is only one way to happiness and that is to stop worrying about things which are beyond the power of your will. Happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Similarly, happiness never decreases by being shared.


Image Credit: theprisma/ huffingtonpost/ travelnewsdigest / southupdates / axuedu.wordpress / topflight / reporting.waterforpeople / newcyprusmagazine

Kakoli Mahanta

A post graduate in Economics, Kakoli Partha Mahanta worked for corporate finance sector for about 7 years. Mother of a cute 2 year baby girl, Kakoli is currently located in Bangalore, India, flourishing her writing skill.

You may also like...