The 10 Happiest (and 5 Unhappiest) Countries

I don’t suppose that most travelers choose their trip destinations based on a country’s happiness index. On the other hand, if they knew that Country A scored near the top of the happiness index and Country B scored near the bottom, it seems probable they’d be inclined to book their flights to Country A. Who wants to spend their vacation among unhappy people?

So there could be a place for happiness among the factors to be considered when choosing where to travel.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network today released World Happiness Report 2018, which ranks 156 countries according to their relative levels of happiness. The results are based on Gallup World Poll data, in particular responses to the so-called main life evaluation question, where respondents self-assessed the quality of their own lives.

According to the report, these are the 10 happiest countries:

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

And the bottom five:

  1. Burundi
  2. Central African Republic
  3. South Sudan
  4. Tanzania
  5. Yemen

The U.S. ranked 18th of the 156 countries surveyed; it has lost ground in both the last two years.

While these are not the factors used to compile the rankings, the report cited six factors that combined to create a country’s overall happiness level: per-capita GDP, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make choices, generosity, and corruption levels.

Reader Reality Check

Is a country’s happiness something you would factor into your trip planning?

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, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.

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