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Mapped: The highs and lows of the world’s happiness landscape

The Gallup World Poll reveals regional peaks and valleys of happiness across all of the continents.
World map illustrating various countries color-coded by their happiness levels with symbols indicating the most and least happy countries in each region.
This world map shows the happiness level of countries around the world, from happiest (yellow), via meh (purple) to unhappiest (blue). (Credit: Visual Capitalist)

Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden. As usual, the country ranking in the annual World Happiness Report is topped by Nordic countries. This map does something extra: It shows happiness levels in their regional and global context.

At a glance, we see that happiness levels are relatively high across the Americas, in Europe and Oceania, and generally lowest across Africa and South Asia. In North America, Canada (6.9) came out on top, happier than the U.S. and Mexico (both 6.7). The least happy country in North America is the Dominican Republic (5.8) — perhaps unfairly, as its bad-to-worse neighbor Haiti wasn’t surveyed.

World map depicting global happiness levels by country, with a color gradient scale from least happy in purple to most happy in red.
Remarkably, Greeks and Libyans are about as (un)happy as each other, as are Venezuelans and Colombians. For huge happiness gaps between neighbors, see Saudia Arabia and Yemen, or Israel and Lebanon. (Credit: Visual Capitalist)

Almost on par with the U.S., Uruguay (6.6) is the happiest country in South America, and Venezuela (5.6) is the unhappiest. All in all, 1.3 points is not a huge delta between the happiest and unhappiest countries in the Americas.

In Europe, the difference is 2.8 points, between Finland (happiest, 7.7) and, unsurprisingly, Ukraine (unhappiest, 4.9). The Turks (5.0), however, are barely happier than the Ukrainians. The Greeks (5.9) and the Portuguese (6.0) stand out as the most miserable countries in the rest of Europe.

Happiness is very relative in Africa, where civil-war-torn Libya (5.9) tops the continent’s happy list. Still, that’s massively better than its huge neighbor Egypt (4.0), and even they are well ahead of the happiness levels in DR Congo (3.3). Most of Africa’s countries report happiness levels in the fours and threes.

Lesotho (3.2), landlocked inside South Africa, is this survey’s unhappiest African country (other likely candidates such as Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia, were not surveyed).

Afghanistan (1.7) is the unhappiest country on Earth, making its neighbors Iran (4.9) and Pakistan (4.7) look like oases of joy. In the Middle East, Israel (7.3) had the highest score, creating a remarkable happiness fault line with its neighbor Lebanon (2.7), even bigger than with Palestine (4.9) — it should be noted that the survey was completed before October 7th, 2023.

In East Asia, China (6.0) is on par with Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Japan and South Korea (both 6.1) are only marginally happier. India (4.1) is doing a lot worse, and only a bit better than Bangladesh (3.9), which has the region’s lowest happiness score. Singapore tops that list, with 6.5. That’s slightly less happy than that notoriously cheerful bunch, the French. Did we say happiness is relative?

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