Finland has edged out Norway as the world’s happiest country, according to the 2018 World Happiness Report, an annual global ranking of 156 countries by their happiness and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants
. The United Nations report released on Wednesday also found that Americans have gotten less happy even as the United States has grown in wealth. The report analyzes countries’ happiness by income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, generosity and absence of corruption.
he Finns are known for a seemingly happy outlook on life, embracing biking in the dead of winter and music festivals and national parks in summer. The country is also an international leader in providing education, has an economy that reflects engagement with the world community and ranks high for its performances in civil rights, press freedom and quality of life, according to the U.S. News 2018 Best Countries rankings.
Finland rose from No. 5 in last year’s ranking to usurp the top spot, knocking Norway to No. 2. The Nordic countries dominate the top of the ranking, and the same countries have ranked in the Top 10 over the past two years. Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia round out the top of the ranking.
The United States, it appears, is getting richer but not happier. America came in 18th, down four places from last year. It has never broken into the Top 10, ranking 11th in the first index. The United Kingdom trailed the U.S. this year at No. 19.
The report noted that the “sociopolitical system” in the U.S. produces greater income inequality than other rich countries. This, and other factors like health crises noted in the report, are major factors when it comes to reduced happiness.
“The U.S. is in the midst of a complex and worsening public health crisis, involving epidemics of obesity, opioid addiction, and major depressive disorder that are all remarkable by global standards,” the report also said.
Violence-stricken Burundi landed last in the ranking with Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and the Central African Republic joining the nation in the bottom five. Such nations are defined by low income, poor access to decent health care and political turmoil.
And that’s not forgetting other plentiful attractions like skiing and saunas and, for children of all ages, Santa Claus.
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“It’s a great thing to live in the happiest country although it’s snowing and we are walking in this wet snow,” said Helsinki resident Inari Lepisto, 28. “Yes, we have many things that make me happy.”
This year, the annual report published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network also evaluated 117 countries by the happiness and well-being of their immigrants.