Where to Go: The World’s 10 Happiest (and Unhappiest) Countries

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, you would choose to visit a country with happy inhabitants over a country whose citizens were morose and grouchy, right?

For anyone factoring happiness into their travel planning, there’s the annual World Happiness Report to consider. The 2017 edition of the report, the fifth, was published this week, ranking 155 countries according to their levels of happiness.

The report aspires to be more than a novelty exercise, noting that, “Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy.”

The main ingredients of happiness, according to the report’s authors, are caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income, and good governance. And by those standards, the 10 happiest countries are as follows:

1. Norway
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Switzerland
5. Finland
6. Netherlands
7. Canada
8. New Zealand
9. Australia
10. Sweden

The U.S. was ranked fourteenth, behind Austria and ahead of Ireland.

Handily from a travel-planning standpoint, seven of the top 10 are in northern Europe, making it relatively easy to fit a handful of them into a single trip.

The bottom 10, with the worst listed first, were:

1. Central African Republic
2. Burundi
3. Tanzania
4. Syria
5. Rwanda
6. Togo
7. Guinea
8. Liberia
9. South Sudan
10. Yemen

As with the happiest countries, the unhappiest tend to be closely clustered, in this case in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Even more than personality, it seems, geography is destiny.

Reader Reality Check

Do you consider a country’s happiness quotient when deciding where to travel?

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.

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  1. Maptrekking says

    I’m really surprised that Ireland isn’t higher on the list. I thought I had seen somewhere that Ireland is supposed to be ranked one of the happiest countries in the world.

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