Where Are the World’s Happiest Countries?

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If you’re happy and you know it, you probably live in one of these countries. The U.N. has released a new list ranking countries in terms of happiness, based on Gallup polls taken from 2005-2011.

The top 5 are:

  1. Denmark
  2. Finland
  3. Norway
  4. Netherlands
  5. Canada

There’s definitely a pattern here. Could it be free universal health care, pristine natural environs and generous paid maternity (and paternity) leave? No, it must be that these places are all kinds of cold. And Denmark wins because they have lots of sticky breakfast pastries.

So where does the U.S. place? Number 11, right below Ireland. Bhutan, which has championed the happiness index, was not included in the U.N. report.The unhappiest countries were Togo, Benin and Central African Republic.

The economists behind the U.N. report say our slavish dependence on Gross National Product (GNP) as an indicator of progress has got to stop. “GNP by itself does not promote happiness,” development economist Jeffrey Sachs told the U.N. conference, according to the Washington Post. “The U.S. has had a three time increase of GNP per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged. Other countries have pursued other policies and achieved much greater gains of happiness, even at much lower levels of per capita income.”

Apparently a new patio set from Walmart just isn’t doing it for us anymore. (Unless, of course, it’s bigger than the neighbors’.)

MORE: 20 Ways to Health and Happiness