How happy are you? What about the people around you — do they usually seem to have smiles on their faces? Your environment plays a role in your overall mood and your outlook on life. Thus, factors that can determine a country’s level of happiness include government, income, and mental health. Ready to find out if your country has made the list? Here’s the top 10 happiest countries.
1. Costa Rica
According to the Travel Channel, Costa Rica is the happiest country on Earth. It’s army-free, citizens have a life expectancy of 79.3, and they’re surrounded by a beautiful setting that’s sure to improve any mood. Expect beaches, volcanoes, rain forests, and pretty great weather most of the time. “Pura vida” is a local saying there, meaning “life is good.”
This Scandinavian nation ranked No. 1 overall on the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index for the fifth straight year in 2013, writes Forbes. It also had leading scores in the economy and social capital sub-indexes. What does it offer that makes citizens so happy? “The biggest bump comes from having the world’s highest per capita GDP of $53,000 a year. Norwegians have the second highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living; 95 percent say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives; an unparalleled 74 percent say other people can be trusted,” NBC News says.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released a survey in 2013, which took a look at happiness in countries, and Denmark was the winner. According to the Huffington Post, Denmark supports parents and families by allowing them additional time for parental leave. Danish citizens also receive healthcare as a basic right, gender equality is prioritized, biking is considered the norm, and citizens feel a responsibility toward one another. Add those together, and you have one happy country.
“Did you think Thailand, the Land of Smiles, might have the highest HPI score in Asia? According to the HPI, Vietnam is actually the happiest country in Asia. A resilient and growing nation, Vietnam has become a major tourist destination over the last 20 years,” says the Travel Channel. Vietnamese citizens appreciate what they have, leading to a high satisfaction level. The country also offers quiet beaches, booming cities, and great food.
This nation scores first in personal freedom and third in education, according to Forbes. What makes the country so happy? A long life expectancy, high average income, and robust social ties. Surprisingly, cold winter weather also helps bring smiles to Canadian faces.
Great coffee and the second highest number of national holidays leave Columbian citizens feeling pleased, the Travel Channel says. The country also has a lot of biodiversity, providing beautiful ecosystems thanks to its climate zones that include rain forests, savannas, steppe, deserts, and mountain climates.
7. The Netherlands
Due to a strong job market and good work-life balance, Dutch people rate themselves as some of the most satisfied in the world. According to Bloomberg, the country has a life satisfaction score of 9.
Wouldn’t you constantly be happy if you were surrounded by the largest barrier reef in the world, a relaxed Caribbean lifestyle, and a somewhat perfect climate? That’s what Belize citizens get to enjoy every day. On top of that, the country is known for its cultural diversity, making for a happy and harmonious place to live, Travel Channel says.
This nation leads in entrepreneurship and opportunity, writes Forbes, making for a great environment for those hoping to start their own business. Startup costs are typically low, and a high level of interpersonal trust and an individualistic social culture contribute to this country’s overall level of happiness.
10. El Salvador
“Even though this country is overshadowed by neighboring Guatemala and Mexico as a hot tourist destination, locals are content with what they have: friendly neighbors, hearty comfort food like yummy pupusas and chicharron, and under-the-radar beaches,” says the Travel Channel. As an added bonus, while El Salvador has a bad rap for gang violence, a truce has helped dropped the number of incidents.