Finland crowned world’s happiest country for third year running

It feels like we could all do with a little more happiness right now, but one country may need less help than the rest.

For the third year in a row, Finland has been named the world’s happiest country.

The annual United Nations World Happiness Report released its 2020 edition today, revealing that the Nordic country is number one once again.

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Since the first report in 2012, only four countries have claimed the top spot: Denmark in 2012, 2013 and 2016, Switzerland in 2015, Norway in 2017, and now Finland in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The 2020 report ranked 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, based on their evaluations of their own lives.

Finland came top by some margin, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.

All the Nordic countries appeared in the top 10.

The UK missed out on the top 10, coming in 13th place, while the US came in at number 18.

“The World Happiness Report has proven to be an indispensable tool for policymakers looking to better understand what makes people happy and thereby to promote the wellbeing of their citizenry,” said Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s editors. 

“Time and again we see the reasons for wellbeing include good social support networks, social trust, honest governments, safe environments and healthy lives.”

The least happy countries as perceived by residents were Afghanistan, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Central African Republic.

The 2020 report also ranked individual cities by residents’ perception of their own well-being for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, Finland’s capital Helsinki was in the top spot, followed by Aarhus, Denmark; Wellington, New Zealand; Zurich, Switzerland; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

London was the UK’s happiest city, coming in at number 36.

The least happy of the 186 cities ranked were Kabul, Afghanistan; Sanaa, Yemen; Gaza, Palestine; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Juba, South Sudan.

Comparing rural and urban environments, the study found that city dwellers tended to be happier than the average citizen, but that having friends and community was one of the strongest factors in determining happiness.

“A happy social environment, whether urban or rural, is one where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions,” said another of the study’s editors, John Helliwell. 

“There is also more resilience, because shared trust reduces the burden of hardships, and thereby lessens the inequality of well-being.”

10 happiest countries

10 least happy countries

10 happiest cities

10 least happy cities


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