The World Happiness Report analyzes people’s quality of life self-assessments across the globe to determine worldwide happiness. Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s latest report reveals that Finland is the happiest nation in the world.

The report draws data from more than 150 countries, and considers multiple factors that tend to lead to greater happiness. The rankings are based on average life evaluations over the course of the three years. Some of the key factors in the survey include healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support and low corruption. Some of the other factors taken into account was the freedom to make life decisions and generosity in the community.

For the sixth year in a row, Finland takes the top spot as the happiest country. Its neighbors, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, also scored well on the happiness index within the top 10.

Where Did The Countries Rank?

The top ten countries in the 2023 report are:

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

Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom all landed in the top 20. Other popular expat countries, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala all made it into the top 50.

Why is Finland The World’s Happiest Country?

Whenever rankings like this come out, it pegs one question: what makes this country stand out above the rest?

“Are they doing things that we wish we’d seen before and we can start doing or is it something unique about their climate and history that make[s] them different?” said John Helliwell, one of the report’s authors. “Fortunately, at least from my perspective, the answer is the former.”

The key to a happy sentiment in a country is taking a holistic view of the well-being of every component of a society and its members. This focus makes life evaluations better and leads to happier countries. Other factors, like accounting for future generations and preserving basic human rights, are also important factors in happiness.

“The objective of every institution should be to contribute what it can to human well-being,” the report said. 

finland named world's happiest countries in 2023 - view of street in helsinki with tram cars in the at dusk in the afternoon
Photo Credit: Tapio Haaja

Who Ranked Low On Happiness?

The bottom two countries on the list are Lebanon and Afghanistan. Additional countries ranking on the lower end of the spectrum include Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The bottom 10 countries rank four or less (out of 10) in happiness, compared to the average of 7.46.

On The Future Of Happiness

The pandemic, and the disruptions that followed have prompted reflection for many people.

“People are rethinking their life objectives,” Helliwell said. “They’re saying, ‘I’m going back, but what am I going back to? What do I want to go back to? How do I want to spend the rest of my life?’”

He hopes that this move towards thinking about values will affect not just factors, such as the jobs or schools people choose, but also how they operate within those environments.

“It isn’t really about the grades or the salary,” he said. “It’s about cooperating with other people in a useful way, and, of course, that’s useful for the world, but the whole point of this happiness research is that it’s also good for the people doing it.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Happiness, a day designated by the United Nations in 2013. Commemorated annually on March 20, the celebration recognizes the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world.

For the ranking of all 150 countries, check out the full 2023 World Happiness Report.

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