Living in happy countries – The world Happiness Report

Finland was the happiest country in the world in 2020, the World Happiness Report has announced. The Report was released earlier this month in time for the International Day of Happiness which was on the 20th March.  

The report is based on the data from The Gallup World Survey and this was the second year in a row that Finland placed first in the gallup. 

The top 10 are all European countries except New Zealand where people are happy enough to get the ninth place. 

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

This year the gallup included 149 countries and the focus was on the pandemic and the effects it had on people. The report states that they noticed a decline in mental health in 2020, a direct result of the pandemic and lockdowns. A decrease in connectedness and an increase in loneliness affected the happiness of people. 

Finland was thought to have done well because of the strong “mutual trust” which is important in dealing with the pandemic. Finland has managed the pandemic pretty well as it has caused less havoc and disruptions than in many other countries around the world. 

I was looking at the data and noticed that all four countries I have lived in at some point place in the top 20 happiest countries.

  • Finland was first
  • Australia 11th
  • UK 17th
  • USA 19th

So the places that I have called home during my life are all pretty happy places. There are big differences amount the countries, especially social care, but in the end, they are all well-off western countries – although minority cultures play a role in each. 

The countries on my “someday I will visit and explore this country”- list are far further down on the happiness ranking according to the World Happiness Report. I doubt anyone would pick their bucket list based on the happiness or the lack of happiness of the destination, but seems like I, for one, am looking to visit places that are different from the ones I have lived in. So the wish list countries sit at the other end of the list. We’ll not all of them, but quite a few.

Finland might want to promote itself as the Happiest Country of 2020 but Botswana won’t probably want to advertise itself as the 4th least happy country. However, this will not change my plans to travel to Botswana someday in the far future.     


Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, Jeffrey Sachs, and Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, eds. 2021. World Happiness Report 2021. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

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