Finland is the world's happiest country, according to the U.N.

March 14, 2018, 12:15 p.m.
Hiker sitting at Saana Fell and looking down at Lake Kilpisjarvi in Finland
Photo: ale_rizzo/Shutterstock

Move over, Norway. There's a new happiest place on Earth.

Finland is now the world's happiest country, according to an annual report issued by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Norway, last year's happiest place, moved down to the No. 2 spot. Indeed, the entire Nordic region performed admirably on the list:

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

The least happiest countries were:

  1. Burundi
  2. Central African Republic
  3. South Sudan
  4. Tanzania
  5. Yemen
  6. Rwanda
  7. Syria
  8. Liberia
  9. Haiti
  10. Malawi

The path to happiness

Respondents to the survey, about 2,000 to 3,000 people per the 156 countries analyzed, were asked to imagine a ladder. They were then asked to place their lives on this ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0. The average answer — 7.632 for Finland and 2.905 for Burundi — determined the country's happiness.

The report also evaluated six factors that might explain why people in the countries are happy (or not). So income, life expectancy, freedom, social support, trust and generosity were also analyzed. Countries at the top of the list generally exhibited lower wealth inequality, high taxes, good healthcare, long life expectancy, low corruption and a support system for those who need help.

Access to views like the one above of Lake Kilpisjarv in Finland probably didn't hurt, either.

The 2018 survey also includes results from polling in 117 countries regarding the happiness of immigrants in their new countries. Once again, Finland came out on top. Denmark was second, with Norway third.

"The attitude of immigrants is also important — if they are to find and accept opportunities to connect with the local populations, this is better for everyone," the report explained.

The United States fell from 14th place in 2017 to 18th place this year. A decline in trust of public institutions, corruption in business and government and a weakened support network were cited as likely reasons for Americans' declining happiness.

Related on MNN: What you don't know about happiness

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