Finland is considered the happiest place to live. Image via Pixabay

Love where you live: The top ten happiest countries in the world

Crime, corruption, and COVID getting you down and making you want to live in a country that leaves you feeling happy?


Finland is considered the happiest place to live. Image via Pixabay

Every year, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network examines the connections between happiness and development in a study and publishes the results in its World Happiness Report.

People living in UN-member states rated their countries on their quality of life, social support, perceived freedom to make life decisions, trust and corruption, generosity, life expectancy, and GDP per capita.

The latest World Happiness Report 2020 was recently released.

The top 10 happiest countries in the world  

1. Finland

When it comes to happiness, Finland takes the top spot on the list for the third year in a row.

Ranked among the most peaceful countries in the world by the Global Peace Index, Europe’s eighth-largest country also consistently ranks among the top education systems in the world.

This success stems from a widespread reverence for teachers, who are required to have a master’s degree (state-funded), and a pedagogical system that focuses less on quantitative testing and more on experiential learning and equal opportunity.

2. Denmark

Denmark consistently ranks in the top three happiest countries in the world and rates near the top in all the metrics of life expectancy, social support, and generosity, as well as renewable energy production.

Copenhagen is the world’s most bike-friendly city, which shows respect for the planet it’s built on, and trust in the government, economic security, freedom, civil participation, and work-life balance are high on the list of contributing factors to the country’s happiness.

Hygge, meaning “cozy and comfortable” is in the hearts of the Danes, and you’ll feel this when you visit the country when they welcome you with unrivalled hospitality.

3. Switzerland

Glorious landscapes encompassing thick forests, extensive lakes, and handsome railway lines; a multilingual society, with most citizens understanding German, French, and English; and an average life expectancy of 82.8, Switzerland makes sit into the top five on the list once again.

In a country where everything is voted on, from how many vacation days workers should have to how many immigrants should be allowed into the country, Switzerland is also recognised for its “effective institutions; sound and healthy public finances; an attractive tax regime; excellent infrastructure and connectivity and world-class education system.”

The Swiss are thought to be insular, but it simply reflects a strong social fabric held together by a belief that every voice matters, which can go a long way toward feeling content.

4. Iceland

Rated to be the most peaceful nation on Earth on the Global Peace Index, Iceland offers a wonderfully low-income tax, free health care, and post-secondary education to its citizens. Iceland also ranks high in terms of the proportion of respondents who said they felt like they had a fellow citizen to count on when the going gets rough.

5. Norway

As the fifth-happiest country in the world, Norway saw 92% of respondents saying they were very satisfied with their standards of living.

The country boasts a combination of a well-integrated government welfare system and a thriving economy built on responsible management of its natural resources. Norwegians also feel that they have social support, trust in government, and economic well-being, all of which contribute to overall happiness.

6. Netherlands

Happiness levels have barely changed in the Netherlands since 2005 and is still renowned for is liberal policies and tasty beer. A UNICEF report shows that happiness starts young in the Netherlands and Dutch children the happiest in the world based on metrics related to educational well-being, safety, and health. 

7. Sweden

Home to some of the world’s happiest people, Western Europe’s third-largest country has an emphasis on social equality that is built into the education system starting in kindergarten.

Swedish residents enjoy 16 months of paid family leave that can be split between a couple after a new child is welcomed into a family, and free daycare also make Sweden the best country for women. Clearly, an emphasis on work-life balance leads to a happier populace.

8. New Zealand

Making it onto the happy list ahead of its Antipodean neighbour, Australia, New Zealand has been voted as one of the best countries to visit for its spectacular natural resources such as marine volcanoes, sperm whales, marvellous wines, warm hospitality, and one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys.

The country’s vast natural wealth is equalled by happiness in the workplace and satisfaction with the country’s leadership, which leads to one happy country.

9. Austria

Austria made it onto the top ten happiest countries list this year for with high scores in life expectancy and GDP per capita. Biking is also one of the favourite ways to get around, showing respect for the planet by focusing on sustainable and renewable energy.  

10. Luxembourg

Luxembourg leaped from 14th to 10th on the list this year, bumping favourites like Australia and Canada down a few places.

Boasting a fairly small population of just under 600,000, Luxembourg pays high salaries and has a strong social security system to help its citizens after retirement. Other non-monetary perks include a great healthcare system and excellent work-life balance like a mandatory five weeks of paid vacation time.