FINLAND (芬蘭) was ranked the world’s happiest country for the second year running while war-torn South Sudan (南蘇丹共和國) was listed the least contented in a just-released United Nations (聯合國) World Happiness Report.
The Nordic nation of 5.5 million people, known for their love of forests, lakes and saunas, topped the study, which used survey data asking citizens in 156 countries how happy they perceive themselves to be, as well as measurements such as life expectancy, income and social support.
The other Nordic countries, as well as the Netherlands (荷蘭), Switzerland (瑞士), Canada (加拿大), New Zealand (紐西蘭) and Austria (奧地利) also made the top ten.
As well as performing well on all the indicators, the most content countries all tended to have very stable societies, with happiness levels changing comparatively little since 2005.
Despite the political turmoil brought by Brexit, Britain rose four places in the rankings to 15th.
The United States, meanwhile, continued its slide of recent years, dropping one spot to 19th place.
Hong Kong ranked 76th, China 93rd and Taiwan 25th.
“This year’s report provides sobering evidence of how addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the US,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s authors.
The unhappiest nation was South Sudan, where the UN recently said 60 percent of people face food insecurity following a bloody civil war which has claimed the lives of an estimated 400,000 people.
Other conflict-ridden countries, such as Yemen (也門), Afghanistan (阿富汗) and the Central African Republic (中非共和國), also featured at the bottom of the table.
Released on the International Day of Happiness on 20 March, the report warned that world happiness has declined in recent years, driven by a sustained fall in India (印度), which this year ranked in 140th place.
This has coincided with a rise in negative feelings, “comprising worry, sadness and anger, especially marked in Asia (亞洲) and Africa (非洲), and more recently elsewhere,” it said.
This year’s publication also looked at how countries have performed in the happiness rankings since 2005.
“This gives us a better chance to see emerging happiness trends from 2005 through 2018, and to investigate what may have contributed to them,” said the report.
Of the 20 largest gainers, half are in Central and Eastern Europe, five are in sub-Saharan Africa, and three in Latin America.
The five largest declines since 2005 were in Yemen, India, Syria (敘利亞), Botswana (博茨瓦納) and Venezuela (委內瑞拉).
(This article is published on the Student Standard on 29 March 2019)