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Norway unseats Denmark as world's happiest country: report

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- Carrie Healey |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Norway displaced Denmark as the world's happiest country in a new report released on Monday that called on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the wellbeing of their citizens.

The Nordic nations are the most content, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.

Top 10 happiest countries:

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.

"Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government," Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.

The aim of the report, he added, is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.

South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.

See the top 10 unhappiest countries:

Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.

Sachs said the United States is falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump is trying to pursue, he added, will make things worse.

"They are all aimed at increasing inequality – tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction," he explained.

The rankings are based on six factors -- per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

"The lowest countries are typically marked by low values in all six variables," said the report, produced with the support of the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

Sachs would like nations to follow United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.

"I want governments to measure this, discuss it, analyze it and understand when they have been off on the wrong direction," he said.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Alistair Bell)

World's happiest countries 2017

  • Gamla Stan View, Stockholm, Sweden
    10. Sweden
  • Queenstown New Zealand
    9. New Zealand
  • Sydney Skyline at Night
    8. Australia
  • Vancouver skyline with mountains
    7. Canada
  • Row of Bicycles parked next to Amsterdam City Center (Centrum). Visible are typical Church and Dutch Houses in the background. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
    6. The Netherlands.
  • Helsinki, Finland
    5. Finland
  • Beautiful view of the water jet fountain with rainbow in the lake of Geneva and the cityscape of Geneva at sunset, Switzerland
    4. Switzerland
  • Reykjavik city (Smoky Bay in Icelandic) it is largest city in Iceland.
    3. Iceland
  • Nyhavn in Copenhagen
    2. Denmark
  • Harbor and color houses in Bergen, Norway
    1. Norway

World's unhappiest countries 2017

  • A view of the city of Sana'a, the Yemeni capital. The old city is famous for it's distinct ancient architecture and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Many of the old houses are neglected and are in dan

    10. Yemen

    (Photo via Getty Images)

  • People prepare collect water in refugee camp, Juba, South Sudan.

    9. South Sudan

    (Photo via Getty Images)

  • West African Village on a Hill

    8. Liberia

    (Photo via Getty Images)


    7. Guinea

    (Photo via REUTERS/Saliou Samb)

  • Traditional huts in the Tamberma Valley, Togo

    6. Togo

    (Photo via Getty Images)

  • Kigali, Rwanda: shantytown built on a slope - phot by M.Torres

    5. Rwanda

    (Photo via Getty Images)

  • Syria, Aleppo, rooftops of apartment buildings covered with satellite dishes, elevated view

    4. Syria

    (Photo by Lottie Davies vis Getty Images)

  • Africa, Tanzania, Cityscape View Of Dar Es Salaam (Year 2009)

    3. Tanzania

    (Photo via Getty Images)

  • Bujumbura; Burundi: Lake Tanganyika shore from the air

    2. Burundi

    (Photo via Getty Images)


    1. Central African Republic

    (Photo via REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

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