These are the World’s Happiest Countries in 2023

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Once again, the Nordic countries ranked highly in the latest edition of the World Happiness Report, including Norway. Find out the rankings and the reasons for them here.

It's that time of the year again! Finland has been ranked as the world's happiest country for the sixth consecutive year, according to the World Happiness Report. Norway scores well along with its Nordic neighbours.

Happy people in Finland drinking coffee by a lake.

The report mainly relies on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll to arrive at this conclusion. The report considers various factors such as healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, generosity in the community, and freedom to make important life decisions to explain its findings.

Finland and its neighbouring Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway, have scored very well on these measures. Keep reading to find out more.

The top 10 happiest countries

These were ranked the 10 happiest countries in the 2023 World Happiness Report. The five Nordic countries are highlighted in bold:

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

Canada was ranked 13th, the United States 15th and the United Kingdom 19th.

Finland: the world's happiest country

Finland stands out from the other Nordic countries due to its unique language and traditions. Although it may seem similar to the other Scandinavian countries at first glance, a closer look reveals several distinctive cultural elements.

The skyline of Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

One major difference is the Finnish language, which is completely different from the Scandinavian languages. Additionally, Finland's culture is adapted to its colder weather, which can be even more extreme than other parts of Scandinavia during the winter months.

Are Nordic people truly happy?

Many people argue that the survey is not measuring “happiness” at all, rather how content or comfortable someone is with their life situation. To get some insight, we can look back at the 2020 report which included a chapter on the Nordics.

“Through reviewing the existing studies, theories, and data behind the World Happiness Report, we find that the most prominent explanations include factors related to the quality of institutions, such as reliable and extensive welfare benefits, low corruption, and well-functioning democracy and state institutions,” explained the report.

“Furthermore, Nordic citizens experience a high sense of autonomy and freedom, as well as high levels of social trust towards each other, which play an important role in determining life satisfaction.”

Finland and the brand of happiness

Since 2018, Finland has been ranked the world's happiness country. Putting how true that is to one side for a moment, Visit Finland is choosing to embrace the concept.

It is offering to bring ten people to Finland to undertake a masterclass in Finnish happiness and help find there, ahem, “inner Finn.”

A Finnish cabin by a lake
A Finnish cabin by a lake.

Expert coaches will guide participants through four key themes during the event in the Finnish Lakeland region: nature and lifestyle, health and balance, design and everyday, and food and well-being. The course will become available virtually later this summer.

A surprisingly positive report

It might surprise you to hear that the outlook from the report is broadly positive, given world events over the past few years.

According to John Helliwell, one of the authors of the World Happiness Report, benevolence towards others has increased by about 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels. This includes helping strangers, which saw a significant rise in 2021 and has remained high in 2022.

Despite the three years of Covid-19 pandemic, global happiness levels have not taken a major hit. The report states that life evaluations from 2020 to 2022 have been quite resilient, with global averages similar to the three years before the pandemic.

The report also notes that positive emotions have been twice as prevalent as negative ones during these challenging times, and feelings of positive social support have been twice as strong as those of loneliness.

The report draws on global survey data from people in over 150 countries, and countries are ranked on happiness based on their average life evaluations over the three preceding years, which in this case is 2020 to 2022. The report is published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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