Finland has been named, on Friday, March 19 as the “happiest country in the world“ for the fourth consecutive year, ahead of Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands in the World Happiness Report compiled by United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, where the impact of Covid-19 was a major criteria.
Making up the other half of the top 10 were Sweden, Germany, Norway, New Zealand and Austria, as Europe swoop 90% of the accolades.
The authors of the United Nations-sponsored study, published since 2012, use Gallup polls asking residents about their own level of happiness. These answers are then crossed with the GDP and indices of solidarity, individual freedom and corruption, to arrive at a score out of 10.
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The United States and Canada were ranked consecutively in 14th and 15th, while Belgium, the United Kingdom and France were ranked 17th, 18th and 20th respectively.The only Asian country in the Top 20 was the tropical nation of Taiwan which is under the territorial control of China.
Sadly, no African country satisfied residents enough to make the top 20.
Nigeria Emerges Out of the Shadows
The only African country in the top 50 was the island of Mauritius (43), located in the Indian Ocean, making it the highest ranked African nation on the list.
Nigeria was however ranked 59th in the world, the highest position for any African country on the mainland, and the second highest on the continent overall. This meant that Nigeria had overcome several negative press, civil unrest and traducing reports of 2020 to rise by 56 places, usurping Libya who held the overall African record for the years between 2017 through 2019.
The major factor for this upward trajectory, was the country’s low mortality rate from Covid-19 complications, reporting 2,027 deaths as at Friday, in admirable proportion to its population of over 200 million, the most in Africa.
The closest African country to Nigeria were West African neighbours, Ghana, who were ranked 65th, trailed by Ivory Coast (70), Cameroon (71), South Africa (76), Zambia (79), Morocco (80), Tunisia (82), Uganda (83), Ethiopia (85) and Kenya (86) to make the continent’s top 10.
Nigeria were one of the countries to switch from face to face interviews to phone interviews in the fresh report.
Two notable absentees were Libya and Algeria, who were ranked 2nd and 4th respectively in Africa in 2020’s report, but missed out entirely in the new compilation.
The lowest ranked country was the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, along with four other African countries who made the bottom 10. Zimbabwe have now been ranked Africa’s worst for the second year running.
Shockingly, India were ranked 4th from bottom, despite promulgation that it was becoming one of the world’s fastest economies.
This year’s report focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on happiness and how countries have differed in their success in reducing the deaths and maintaining connected and healthy societies. The effects of the pandemic on happiness, mental health, social connections, and the workplace are covered in four chapters of the report.
Comparing data from 2020 to past years to identify the impact of the pandemic, the study authors found a “significantly higher frequency of negative emotions” in about a third of countries. But 22 countries have seen this indicator evolve positively and “surprisingly there has not been, on average, a decline in well-being in the assessment that people make of their own lives,” says John Helliwell, one of the co-authors cited in the study.
“One possible explanation is that people see Covid-19 as a common and external threat that harms everyone and that has resulted in a greater sense of solidarity and empathy,” judges the expert.
Despite its long winters and the reputation of its inhabitants, Nordic countries enjoy a very high standard of living, efficient public services, a vast nature of forests and lakes, and is also very well ranked in terms of solidarity and in the fight against poverty and inequalities.
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