LIFE

Finland is again world’s happiest

‘People feel a sense of belonging, trust and enjoy each other’

Good cheer may feel in short supply as the world reels under a global pandemic, but experts at the UN on Friday declared Finland to be the world’s happiest nation for the third year running.

Researchers for the World Happiness Report asked people in 156 countries to evaluate their own levels of happiness, and took into account measures such as GDP, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption to give each nation a happiness score.

As in each of the previous seven reports, Nordic states dominated the top 10, along with countries such as Switzerland, New Zealand and Austria.

Luxembourg also edged into the 10th spot for the first time this year.

The happiest countries are those “where people feel a sense of belonging, where they trust and enjoy each other and their shared institutions,” John Helliwell, one of the report’s authors, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the countries at the bottom are those afflicted by violent conflicts and extreme poverty, with Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Afghanistan classified as the world’s least happy nations.

Finland’s top spot in the happiness list has previously been met with raised eyebrows in the country whose population of 5.5 million is said to shy away from spontaneous demonstrations of joy, valuing instead the quiet and solitude of the country’s vast forests and lakes.

The country’s long dark winters were reputed to be behind high levels of alcoholism and suicide, but a decade-long public health drive has helped cut rates by more than half.

Finland’s residents enjoy a high quality of life and security, with rates of inequality and poverty among the lowest of all OECD countries.

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