There’s no denying that Finland is a happy place. For the sixth year in a row, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world in the annual World Happiness Report, which ranks global happiness in more than 150 countries around the world.
Overseen by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the report is released every year in honor of the International Day of Happiness on March 20. The ranking of the countries is based on data from sources like the Gallup World Poll, leveraging six key factors: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.
This year’s list is similar to past rankings in 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019, with many of the same Nordic countries in the top spots. As with 2022, Denmark once again comes in at number two, followed by Iceland at number three.
“The Nordic countries merit special attention in light of their generally high levels of both personal and institutional trust,” writes the authors of the report. “They also had COVID-19 death rates only one-third as high as elsewhere in Western Europe during 2020 and 2021—27 per 100,000 in the Nordic countries compared to 80 in the rest of Western Europe.”
But Finland is the clear winner—by a long shot. “Finland continues to occupy the top spot, for the sixth year in a row, with a score that is significantly ahead of all other countries,” the authors of the report say.
What makes Finland so happy? According to the experts from Aalto University in Finland, there are several key factors. “Finland seems to excel here because of the Finnish welfare system’s ability to help its citizens feel taken care of,” says Aalto University lecturer Frank Martela. “Things like relatively generous unemployment benefits and nearly free healthcare help mitigate sources of unhappiness, ensuring that there are fewer people in Finland who are highly unsatisfied with their lives.’’
Finland’s urban planning also makes people feel healthy and safe. “A person’s environment plays a big role in their happiness which makes the topic of health promotion in cities very important,” says Aalto University professor Marketta Kyttä. “It’s closely related to social sustainability and whether you feel connected to your community.”
Where did other countries fall on the list? Israel has gone up five points to bump Switzerland out of the number four spot. (Switzerland ranks number eight this year.) The Netherlands once again come in at number five. Some other positive movers in this year’s report include Sweden (up one point to number six) and Norway (up one spot to number seven). Canada is at number 13—a two point increase from last year. The U.S. is also up one spot from last year, coming in at number 15. Belgium is up two spots to number 17. New to this year’s top 20: Lithuania, which is up more than 30 spots since 2017.
A few countries dropped in their ranking for 2023, including Luxembourg (down three spots to number nine), Ireland (down one spot to number 14), Germany (down two spots to number 16) and the United Kingdom (down two to number 19). France fell off the list of the top 20.
Besides the happiest countries in the world, the report also looks at the places where people are the unhappiest. The lowest ranking countries on the report also happen to be war-torn: Afghanistan and Lebanon. According to the report, these places also have an average life evaluation that’s more than five points lower (on a scale running from 0 to 10) than in the 10 happiest countries.
Rounding out the list of the five unhappiest countries in the world: Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Congo.
Besides ranking the countries, the report looks at the state of the world in 2023. And the results are promising, according to Lara Aknin, one of the coauthors of the report. “This year’s report features many interesting insights,” Aknin said in a release. “But one that I find particularly interesting and heartening has to do with pro-sociality. For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels.”
Read on for the top 20 happiest countries in the world in 2023, as well as the 20 unhappiest countries.
World’s 20 Happiest Countries in 2023
- New Zealand
- United States
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
World’s 20 Unhappiest Countries in 2023
- Sierra Leone
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