Which Country is the Happiest?

Many countries claim to have happy citizens, but which country is rated the "happiest"? How do you even measure happiness?

According to the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the happiest country on the planet. Of course, when you have beaches like this, it's hard to argue with that. Beautiful beaches, though, weren't the only determining factor in the HPI's rankings.

HPI looks at the general well-being of a country and its citizens. This is built off the results from a Gallup World Poll that asks people to rate their overall happiness on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best. Denmark, Canada, and Norway rated the highest and Togo had the lowest score. Then, that number is multiplied by the life expectancy of the country, based on a 2011 United Nations study. That number is then divided by the country's ecological footprint. HPI wanted to take sustainability into account. After all, the happiest country in the world should be able to nourish and support its residents for many generations to come. The resulting equation looks like this:

(Happiness Rating x Life Expectancy) / Ecological Footprint = HPI Score

Is the HPI a definitive ranking? Clearly not. Measuring happiness is tricky and completely subjective. Other polls incorporate more economic data. After all, shouldn't happy countries have a sound economic support system? What about measuring political corruption? It's difficult to measure, but the United Nations believes it's incredibly important. March 20 is officially International Day of Happiness.

Learn More:
Happy Planet Index Data
“The new HPI results show the extent to which 151 countries across the globe produce long, happy and sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The overall index scores rank countries based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental output."

The Happy Planet Index: 2012 Report
“The Happy Planet Index is a new measure of progress that focusses on what matters: sustainable well-being for all. It tells us how well nations are doing in terms of supporting their inhabitants to live good lives now, while ensuring that others can do the same in the future.”

Want to live in the world's happiest place? This is where you should go... (via CNN)

Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country. You'll Never Guess Why. (via Huffington Post)

Happiness Should Have Greater Role in Development Policy – UN Member States

Human Development Report 2011: A Better Future for All
“This Report explores the integral links between environmental sustainability and equity and shows that these are critical to expanding human freedoms for people today and in generations to come.”