The Happiest Places On Earth 2016

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The report, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, showed Syria, Afghanistan and eight sub-Saharan countries as the 10 least happy places on earth to live.

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The top 10 this year were Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. Denmark was in third place last year, behind Switzerland and Iceland. The bottom 10 were Madagascar, Tanzania, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi. The United States came in at 13, the United Kingdom at 23, France at 32, and Italy at 50.

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“There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier”, said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the SDSN and special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Aiming to “survey the scientific underpinnings of measuring and understanding subjective well-being”, the report, now in its fourth edition, ranks 157 countries by happiness levels using factors such as per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and healthy years of life expectancy. It also rates “having someone to count on in times of trouble” and freedom from corruption in government and business.

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The first report was issued in 2012 to support a U.N. meeting on happiness and well-being. Five countries – Bhutan, Ecuador, Scotland, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela – now have appointed Ministers of Happiness charged with promoting it as a goal of public policy. The 2016 survey showed that three countries in particular, Ireland, Iceland and Japan, were able to maintain their happiness levels despite external shocks such as the post-2007 economic crisis and the 2011 earthquake because of social support and solidarity. Sachs pointed to Costa Rica, which came in 14th and ahead of many wealthier countries, as an example of a healthy, happy society although it is not an economic powerhouse.

1. DENMARK
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People walk along an avenue of blossoming cherry trees at the cemetery of Bispebjerg in Copenhagen April 21, 2015. (Photo by Sophia Juliane Lydolph/Reuters/Scanpix Denmark)

2. SWITZERLAND
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Cheese maker and farmer Jacques Murith gathers his cows prior to their departure for the Proveta pasture on the first day of the season in Gruyeres, western Switzerland, May 8, 2013. (Photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

3. ICELAND
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People relax in one of the Blue Lagoon hot springs near the town of Grindavik February 14, 2013. (Photo by Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)

4. NORWAY
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A man cycles past a banner featuring the Norwegian flag and a rainbow hanging on a warehouse in Oslo, Norway June 20, 2012. (Photo by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

5. FINLAND
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Mire Ibrahim waves the Finnish flag during a demonstration against racism where an estimated 15,000 people attended in Helsinki, Finland July 28, 2015. (Photo by Vesa Moilanen/Reuters/Lehtikuva)

6. CANADA
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Youths play pond hockey on Pigeon Lake near the town of Bobcaygeon, in the Kawartha Lake region of central Ontario March 2, 2014. (Photo by Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

7. NETHERLANDS
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Cyclists visit a Dutch tulip field in Noordwijk April 24, 2010. (Photo by Michael Kooren/Reuters)

8. NEW ZEALAND
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A woman dives from a platform into a giant air bed at a park in Palmerston North September 29, 2011. (Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

9. AUSTRALIA
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A couple embrace on the water’s edge as they watch the first sunrise of the new year on Australia’s Bondi Beach in Sydney, January 1, 2016. (Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)

10. SWEDEN
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A skater speeds on rain-wet ice on lake Orlangen, south of Stockholm December 15, 2013. (Photo by Tobias Rostlund/Reuters/TT News Agency)

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