12 August 2016

The Best Places To Live

Top 5 Happiest Countries

Have you ever wondered where the happiest people on Earth live? We've got the top five as ranked by the UN. So what countries are they? And where does Ireland fare in comparison? Read on to find out - and prepare for some surprises! 

Top 5 Happiest Countries

Each year the United Nations publishes a 'world happiness report' in which it ranks every country on earth based on 6 different factors:

  • GDP per capita;
  • Social support;
  • Healthy life expectancy;
  • Freedom to make life choices;
  • Generosity;
  • Trust / absence of corruption.

With that in mind, which countries come out best in these rankings?

5 Happiest Countries

5. Finland

We kick start our list with Finland, the 8th biggest country in Europe and the 5th happiest country in the world. What makes the Finns so happy? A great education system and factors such as civil liberties mean that it often tops various polls on pleasant places to reside. In 2015 it was declared the country with the freest press.

4. Norway

In at number four we have Norway, the land of fjords, glaciers and mountain ranges. It's population of around 5.5 million are the 4th happiest group of people on the planet.

It's strong economy, boosted by the fact it's the largest oil producer in the world outside of the Middle East, means citizens enjoy a very high standard of living. While money can't buy you happiness, it's certainly given the residents of Norway a boost.

3. Iceland

With a population of just over 330,000, and a large landmass, Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Is that the reason it's the 3rd happiest place on Earth? After all, we all enjoy a bit of time to ourselves once in a while.

Other potential factors include low taxes, free healthcare, free education and of course their heated pavements. Because nobody enjoys slipping and falling on their backsides in winter.

Bolstering their happiness, surely, is their recent Euro 2016 performance, which made them the beloved underdogs of the competition – with a cool chant to boot!

2.  Switzerland

Lake Geneva, the Alps, Swiss chocolate and wealth, abundant wealth. It's not hard to see why Switzerland takes the 2nd spot on the list, although it's not just nice views and Rolex watches that make the Swiss a contented bunch.

Excellent health and healthcare combined with a national feeling of safety added to the sense of satisfaction that comes with inhabiting Switzerland.

1. Denmark

We don't hear an awful lot about Denmark, but it turns out its 5.7 million inhabitants are quietly having a whale of a time down there.

High incomes combined with ease of social mobility and excellent healthcare all contribute to the Danes overall happiness. They also enjoy living in the least corrupt nation in the world, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index.

How Happy Is Ireland?

So these are the happiest countries on Earth? You can keep 'em! Bit too bland and chilly for my liking – and just try ordering a pint in Geneva, Copenhagen or Oslo.

Bad enough here but with prices like that I couldn't share their happiness!

Which brings me to my next point; we're not always about happiness in Ireland, we prefer a balance. We like to have the craic but we also like a good moan – crappy weather, late buses, the price of things… nothing wrong with a good aul moan!

We've had a tough few years of it, that's sure, which is probably why we've dropped down to 19th overall, just behind Belgium and just ahead of Luxemboug. But take heart – we also beat the UK by four places.

To be fair coming 19th out of 157 countries is an excellent result. In most cases we fare very well; economic factors, public services, life expectancy, social mobility and, in generosity terms, as you might expect, we perform well. Where we fall, however, is with our trust in our government and institutions – but again this should be no surprise to any of us either. Plenty of moan-worthy material there.

Paradoxically our national export is craic, a funny little word known throughout the world as a euphemism for fun and merriment. We have a well-earned reputation for being a fun-loving people, which is why every year millions of foreigners adopt our nationality and celebrate our national holiday.

Ever been to a Swiss bar? Or a Danish bar? Me neither. If you saw one would you even want to? Irish bars, on the other hand – just try and find a city that doesn't have an Irish bar these days. And, of course, they're always packed.

The Land of Happiness

If money doesn't buy happiness how come the happiest countries in the world are all rich ones?

The answer is simple; freedom from financial makes us happy. Getting up at all hours to battle your way into a job that makes you miserable, stressing yourself out, running yourself ragged, eating out of petrol station deli counters, coming home too shattered to do anything other than collapse on the couch…

The lottery is the magic genie that can make all of that disappear, replacing it with whatever your dreams desire. Always dreamed of owning a Lamborghini? Here's the keys. Want to donate a million to cancer research? You could easily set up your own charity trust.

And it's for reasons like this that Lottoland is the happiest land of all – but of course Ban Ki Moon and the rest of the UN lot haven't quite gotten around to putting us on the official list yet.

So, while we're waiting for that to be processed you can take a look at our biggest jackpot this week, our €492 million Special Jackpot for American super-lottery PowerBall – money like that won't just change your life, with it you could easily change the world!