Well outside of the top ten, the US came in at 18th spot with the UK one behind in 19th. But interestingly, national happiness seems to have little correlation with a country’s allure as a tourist destination – not one of the top 10 happiest countries made it into the list of top ten most visited countries in 2017.
In case you want to put a change to that, here’s your top ten.
Endless golden beaches, phenomenal year-round weather, a lot of room to escape the crowds and a world renowned lifestyle, Australia rightly sits high on most people’s travel bucket list. It’s dropped one place from last year though.
The lowliest of the Nordic top ten, Sweden has swapped with Australia to climb one place thanks to its combination of beautiful wilderness, hip cities and Scandi cool. For visitors, Stockholm is probably the most beautiful Scandinavian city of all.
8. New Zealand
Consistently sitting atop many a traveler’s wish list, New Zealand’s remote, relaxed and beatific way of life translates into serious happiness not just for its residents but also its visitors.
The US’s gargantuan neighbour always seems to nail the happiness metrics with its high life expectancy, small population and extraordinary landscape offering everything from absolute solitude to city living at its edgiest.
6. The Netherlands
Flat, easygoing Netherlands is world renowned for its liberal, laissez-faire approach to life. Do as the locals do and pedal a bike through its iconic tulip and windmill laden landscapes before rolling into Amsterdam and a taste of European culture at its finest.
Dropping from the top spot in 2015, Switzerland is still a pretty cheerful place to call home. Take into account its favorable tax regime, booming economy, phenomenal infrastructure and education services and you can understand the secret to its success. That’s before you consider the Alpine picture postcard landscapes and the kind of clean air that’s sent the average life expectancy into the mid eighties.
The most equal, peaceful and fair country in the world has always danced around the top spot thanks to its low tax and free health care and education. Enchanting and otherworldly, it’s also seen visitor numbers quadruple in recent years with a landscape that inspires everyone – Iceland is also the most published country per capita with one in ten residents writing a book.
Although they’ve seen a slide from first in 2016 to second in 2017 to third in 2018, I don’t think the Danes will be sobbing into their herring Smørrebrød any time soon. Typical Scandinavian attributes such as high living standards and a brilliant tax, health, education and welfare system mean it has one of the smallest wealth gaps in the world.
Last year’s winner has also been voted Europe’s most beautiful country, which no doubt helps with the smiles. As with its neighbours, social equality and welfare rank it high and it’s often found atop worldwide prosperity indexes – but forget all of that, book yourself a cruise through its majestic fjords and you’ll see why they’re really so at home in its incomparable landscapes.
A mighty leap over its Scandinavian neighbours from fifth to first, Finland’s 5.5 million residents enjoy more forest per square mile than any European country, extremely high environmental standards, and a very low threat level making it one of the most peaceful places on Earth. With a high ratio of immigrants now also calling Finland home, the World Happiness Report made particular mention of the consistency in happiness between them and local born residents.
In case you’re wondering, the world’s least happy country is Burundi, followed by Central African Republic, South Sudan and Tanzania, marking a sad indictment of life in Africa.