In Brief

The happiest (and unhappiest) countries in the world

Finland tops the list for the second year in a row, with South Sudan coming last in UN rankings

South Sudan has been officially ranked as the unhappiest place in the world by the United Nations.

The annual World Happiness Report, which analyses countries and ranks them in order of happiness, attempts to “survey the scientific underpinnings of measuring and understanding subjective well-being”, according to the UN.

It uses six components: per capita gross domestic product (GDP); healthy years of life expectancy; social support, as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble; trust, as measured by perceived absence of corruption in government and business; perceived freedom to make life decisions; and generosity as measured by recent donations.

For the second year, Finland has beaten its Nordic rivals to top the charts, followed by Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

The study reveals that superpowers performed poorly this year, with the US slipping to 19th place, one place down from last year and five places down on 2016.

Japan came in 58th place (down from 54th), Russia came in 68th place (down from 59th) and China came in 93rd place (down from 86th).

The UK, however, has improved its standing in the list, hopping up from 19th last year to 15th in 2019.

The report sees South Sudan replacing Burundi as the least happy country, ahead of the Central African Republic and Afghanistan. Thrillist notes that other countries at the bottom of the list include places like Yemen, Syria, and Haiti - all nations that are “currently, or have recently been, caught in the midst of great tragedy”.

“This report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It's time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let's hold our leaders to this fact,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which produced the report in association with the UN.

Ten happiest nations

1. Finland2. Denmark3. Norway4. Iceland5. Netherlands6. Switzerland7. Sweden8. New Zealand9. Canada10. Austria

Ten unhappiest nations

1. South Sudan2. Central African Republic3. Afghanistan4. Tanzania5. Rwanda6. Yemen7. Malawi8. Syria9. Botswana10. Haiti

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