The world’s happiest country is Denmark, followed closely by Switzerland and Iceland, according to a March 2016 report from the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network. All of the top 10 happiest countries are highly developed countries, and most are in Northern or Western Europe. All are rather ethnically homogenous, with strong social support networks. Burundi, a landlocked country in East Africa, scored as the least happy country, coming in behind Syria, Togo, Afghanistan and Benin. Most of the lowest-scoring countries are found in subSaharan Africa, are poor, and many have been recently ravaged by war or disease (or both). Among the most populous countries, China came in at 83 (out of 157) on the list, India at 118, the United States at 13, Indonesia at 79 and Brazil at 17. Thailand was rated at number 33, not as happy as fellow ASEAN country Singapore (22); but happier than Malaysia (47), Philippines (82), Vietnam (96), Laos (102) and Cambodia (140).
The list was based on polls of people’s well-being in each country; the report’s creators talked to about 3,000 citizens in each. This was used to create a happiness score between zero and 10. Also factored into the final happiness score was real gross domestic product per capita; life expectancy; degree of social support; and perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity. The report was released ahead of the United Nations International Day of Happiness, on March 20th, which recognizes “happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world.”