Every year, the World Happiness Report is released, revealing the list of the happiest countries in the world. These are destinations where people feel safe and secure, there is a strong community spirit, and work and life are actually in balance. This year, the Nordic countries have dominated again, with Finland taking the lead for the third year in a row, followed by Denmark (land of Hygge) in second place. Read on to find out why the top five countries on the report are so joyous...
Coming in at number one in the list of the happiest countries in the world, is Finland. With its sparkling lakes, magical white winters and vibrant cities, it's no surprise that this Nordic country is a high ranker but what does it take to reach the top spot? There are a few reasons: good social support, honest governments, high-quality education and a strong connection to nature. The Finns are also known for prizing perseverance, so much so that they have a word to describe it - sisu - plus an International Day of Failure.
To understand why Danes are so happy, you have to understand the concept of hygge. In a nutshell, it's anything that brings you soul-warming pleasure: time spent with family and friends, a crackling wood fire, playing board games - the simpler and cosier the better. Beside their love for all things hyggeligt, Denmark is known for its excellent social welfare, a high level of equality, and strong community spirit.
Nabbing the third spot in the list of the happiest countries in the world, is Switzerland. This is a country with some of the prettiest landscapes, the most scenic train journeys (including the Glacier Express), and some of the best chocolate in the world. People here live longer (to the ripe age of 82 on average), enjoy excellent social support and get to live and work in cities that are right next to lakes.
Despite its harsh weather and long winters, Iceland ranks towards the top of the World Happiness Report time and time again. This is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, yet few people are lonely, with over 99% of the population feeling like they have someone they can count on. Iceland is also home to some of the world's most spectacular and otherworldly landscapes from the dramatic fjords and mighty volcanoes to the glittering glaciers and steaming hot springs; when Icelanders aren't spending time with loved ones they're enjoying the great outdoors.
Like its Scandinavian siblings, Norway's residents prize cosiness (or koselig) and social connection to get them through the cold, dark winters. When the weather warms up in the summer and the country is blessed with 24-hours of daylight for a few short weeks, there are endless adventures to enjoy from whale watching safaris and sea kayaking to boat cruises along fjords. With nature this good (not to mention Northern Light watching in the winter) it's no surprise that Norway swings in at number five in the list of the world's happiest countries.