What makes a country happy? The United Nations considers the answer with its annual World Happiness Report, ranking a total of 156 countries. Key ingredients for well-being include longer healthy years of life, more social support, trust in government, higher GDP per capita, and generosity.
This year’s list hosts the same top 10 countries as 2018; however, some managed to jump the ranks while others fell. Finland remained in the top spot, Australia dropped off the list to 11th, and Austria rose to 10th. Canada, the only top-10 country in the Americas, fell from seventh to ninth. The United States also dropped to 19th, down one spot from 2018. (Read more about the happiest cities in the United States.)
This year’s report focused on happiness and community, evaluating factors like technology, internet, big data, and addiction.
“We are in an era of rising tensions and negative emotions,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and study co-author in a press release. The goal of the World Happiness Report is to provide governments and individuals with a framework for promoting happiness.
To that end, the United Nations recognized March 20 as the International Day of Happiness in 2012 to highlight “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.”
While the experiences of tourists were not considered specifically, the report sets a standard for blissful places to visit. After all, aren't smiles contagious? Here are the happiest countries in the world and some of what makes them unique.
This article was updated from a previous version stating the 2018 rankings.