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Top 10 happiest countries in the world 2019. What they have in common will surprise you.

7 min read

Better Society

The World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness, ranking 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. You’ll be surprised what most countries have in common.

The world’s top 10 happiest countries in 2019 all rank highly for the same criteria

The World Happiness Report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20, the date that the United Nations has declared to be the International Day of Happiness. The report ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. The top 10 countries tend to rank high in all six variables, as well as emotional measures of well-being.

Finland is the world’s happiest country in 2019

Finland has a lot to celebrate — reports CNN

Not only does it have a capital city bursting with gastronomic creativity, the spectacular Northern Lights and Santa Claus’s year-round home in Lapland. It’s also the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row, according to the latest World Happiness Report.

The report ranks countries on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity.

"The top 10 countries tend to rank high in all six variables, as well as emotional measures of well-being," says report co-editor John Helliwell, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia.

And that’s not just about the native-born residents of those countries.

"It’s true that last year all Finns were happier than rest of the countries’ residents, but their immigrants were also happiest immigrants in the world," Helliwell told CNN

"It’s not about Finnish DNA. It’s the way life is lived in those countries."

They pay high taxes for a social safety net, they trust their government, they live in freedom and they are generous with each other. 

"They do care about each other," he says. "That’s the kind of place people want to live."

Differences among the top eight countries are small enough that jostling among the top five is expected every year.

Source: CNN

The top 10 happiest countries in 2019

As in 2018, Finland again takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world according to three years of surveys taken by Gallup from 2016-2018. Rounding out the rest of the top ten are countries that have consistently ranked among the happiest. They are in order: Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria. The US ranked 19th dropping one spot from last year.

Austria nudged Australia out of the top 10 list this year.
#10 Austria ?? Austria nudged Australia out of the top 10 list this year. Source: NomadCapitalist.com

10 Austria ??

Austria is the country with one of the best qualities of life in the world, with its capital, Vienna, rated consistently in the top 10 most liveable cities in the past decade. In addition, there are benefits for those looking for safe banking options, viable property deals and beautiful views to top it all off. — NomadCapitalist.com

Canada is well known for having a great variety of seasons throughout the year, giving you the chance to experience an amazingly warm summer and then a deadly cold winter.
#9 Canada ?? Canada is well known for having a great variety of seasons throughout the year, giving you the chance to experience an amazingly warm summer and then a deadly cold winter. Source: Baronmag.com

#9 Canada ??

Canada is the only country in the Americas to feature in the Top 10. Canada is known as a very peaceful nation with a great worldwide reputation. It adopted a country-wide policy of multiculturalism and is regarded along with the UK as being one of the best places to study. — Baronmag.com

There are some of the most diverse environments on earth, from beaches and rainforests to mountains, lakes, glaciers and even volcanoes.
#8 New Zealand ?? There are some of the most diverse environments on earth, from beaches and rainforests to mountains, lakes, glaciers and even volcanoes. Source: NewZealand.com

#8 New Zealand ??

New Zealanders are naturally warm and friendly people. Although there are four distinct seasons in New Zealand there are not the extremes of hot and cold to be found in most other countries. Crime is low. Furthermore, there are virtually no lethal creatures amongst New Zealand’s wildlife so you can explore without concern for being bitten or eaten! — NewZealand.com

Parents in Sweden get a total of 480 parental days for each child. For most of those days you’ll earn 80% of a salary of up to roughly $45,000 per year, which in Sweden is very good money.
#7 Sweden ?? Parents in Sweden get a total of 480 parental days for each child. For most of those days you’ll earn 80% of a salary of up to roughly $45,000 per year, which in Sweden is very good money. Source: muchissaidinjest.com

#7 Sweden ??

There is universal healthcare in Sweden. You don’t pay anything unless you have to go to the doctor. In that case, you pay a small amount per visit. Daycare is heavily subsidized. It costs about $120 a month, but you get a monthly child benefit from the government which covers those costs. So basically daycare is free. So is university. — Muchissaidinjest.com

Swiss live until the ripe age of 82.8, on average, putting them 10th on that particular table
#6 Switzerland ?? Swiss live until the ripe age of 82.8, on average, putting them 10th on that particular table Source: TheTelegraph

#6 Switzerland ??

Switzerland has not been involved in a war since 1847, therefore doesn’t spend billions on the military. Switzerland is renowned for its healthcare system, Santésuisse, with appointment waiting times among the lowest in the world. Switzerland is widely considered the closest any nation has come to a direct democracy. Ordinary citizens can propose constitutional changes, referendums can be requested on any new law, and its 26 cantons enjoy a good deal of autonomy.— Telegraph

Dutch people are very friendly and you can speak English everywhere in the Netherlands. Cycling is practically a Dutch tradition.
#5 The Netherlands ?? Dutch people are very friendly and you can speak English everywhere in the Netherlands. Cycling is practically a Dutch tradition. Source: HousingAnywhere.com

#5 The Netherlands ??

The work life balance in the Netherlands is one of the best in the world, and the nation has great infrastructure. The Netherlands is known for its safety and tolerance; the Dutch welcome people of all races and cultural backgrounds. It’s easy to travel all round Europe from the Netherlands. It’s simple to find a job in the Netherlands as a foreigner. Additionally, workers also receive more time off, with an average of 20 vacation days every year — HousingAnywhere.com

One of the most special things about Iceland is its nature, with everything from volcanos to geysers.
#4 Iceland ?? One of the most special things about Iceland is its nature, with everything from volcanos to geysers. Source: extremeiceland.is

#4 Iceland ??

The world’s first parliament was founded in 930 at Thingvellir. Iceland is the most peaceful country on the planet, according to the Global Peace Index. Iceland has no army, navy, or air force, and Iceland’s police officers do not even carry guns. 

In a 2006 study of Icelandic people, 55,5% of participants said that elves either possibly exist, are likely to exist, or definitely exist. Even though many Icelandic people are not certain that elves exist, most people are not willing to deny the possibility of their existence. — ExtremeIceland.is

Breathtaking scenery of majestic mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and green hillsides—not to mention the wonderful fjords. Norway has a law called “allemannsrett” which gives you the right to put up a tent anywhere you like in Norway.
#3 Norway ?? Breathtaking scenery of majestic mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and green hillsides—not to mention the wonderful fjords. Norway has a law called “allemannsrett” which gives you the right to put up a tent anywhere you like in Norway. Source: Huffpost.com

#3 Norway ??

The online banking system is 2nd to none, and healthcare is more or less free for everybody. With a population of just 5 million, this works out at 14 people per square kilometre. Norway has the highest number of electric cars. It is estimated that the Norwegian government spends more than 6.6% of its GDP on education which is one of the highest in the world. —HuffPost.com

Short distances make it easy to get around and explore Denmark’s buzzing cities as well as beautiful forests and stunning coastline.
#2 Denmark ?? Short distances make it easy to get around and explore Denmark’s buzzing cities as well as beautiful forests and stunning coastline. Source: InvestDK.com

#2 Denmark ??

Danes benefit from a well-functioning welfare system, which provides free education and healthcare among other things. Danes have the shortest working week in the world, with the average expat working 39 hours per week. Still, the Danes are among the most productive and hardworking workforces in Europe. Hours are flexible, and all workers are statutorily entitled to 5 weeks vacation each year, making space for family and leisure time. — InvestDK.com

The Nordic country’s 5.5 million inhabitants are also the third most gender-equal in the world and have the fifth lowest income inequality. Their babies are the least underweight, their kids feel the most secure, and their teens perform the second best at reading.
#1 Finland ?? The Nordic country’s 5.5 million inhabitants are also the third most gender-equal in the world and have the fifth lowest income inequality. Their babies are the least underweight, their kids feel the most secure, and their teens perform the second best at reading. Source: Flickr – Visit LakeLand

#1 Finland ??

Finland’s judicial system is the most independent in the world, its police the most trusted, its banks the soundest, its companies the second most ethical, its elections the second freest, and its citizens enjoy the highest levels of personal freedom, choice and wellbeing. — The Guardian

It all began with Bhutan ??

The prime minister of the tiny country of Bhutan proposed a World Happiness Day to the United Nations in 2011, which brought international attention to happiness as a metric. Bhutan came in 95th place (up two spots from last year) in this year’s report. 

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly  declared March 20 as World Happiness Day, recognising "the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives."

This report is the seventh to come out since 2012. The rankings of the world’s happiest countries came from an analysis of data from surveys in 156 countries, including the Gallup World Poll starting in 2005-2006.

Remarkable Common Denominators

Of the top ten countries, nine actually have a wet and/or pretty cold climate. The only exception would be New Zealand, but given its highly diverse landscapes and corresponding climates, thanks to its Alpine areas, it also offers a fair share of snow in the winter. 

But besides its similarities in climate, all ten countries are also known for their relatively highly developed welfare state. In general (with some exceptions like e.g. Switzerland) people pay high income tax. However, as these countries tend to look after the more vulnerable groups and offer good health care, education, public transport etc, paying high taxes does not ruin their happiness. 

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