Mapped: Global Happiness Levels in 2022
Check out the latest update of the World Happiness Report.
What really makes people happy? While countless academic researchers have tried to get to the bottom of this, the truth is, it’s a complicated question to answer.
Happiness levels depend on a number of factors, including one’s financial security, perceptions of social support, feelings of personal freedom, and much more.
This map pulls data from the World Happiness Report to uncover the average happiness scores of 146 countries. It shows average scores from 2019 to 2021, and highlights which countries are the happiest—or unhappiest—and why.
How is Happiness Measured?
Before diving in, let’s briefly touch on how happiness levels are measured in this report.
The numbers shown represent the survey data from thousands of respondents for each country, who are asked to rate their subjective well-being (happiness score) using the Cantril life ladder question. For more information on the methodology of this and technical notes, go here.
The report also does a regression analysis to look at how happiness scores could be explained, by looking at tangible and intangible factors that could factor in:
- Social support
- Life expectancy
- Freedom to make life choices
- GDP per capita
- Perceptions of corruption
- Positive and negative affects
Similar to last year, the report takes special considerations to track how COVID-19 has impacted aspects of our daily lives, and how it’s affected global happiness levels.
Editor’s note: there are several countries covered in last year’s report that were not included in this year’s dataset, including Haiti, Maldives, and Burundi.
Zooming in: Regional Happiness Levels
Worldwide happiness comes in at an average score of 5.6, which is a slight improvement since last year’s report. Below, we dive into each region’s happiness levels.
Current Mood: Happy (6.3)
Like last year, Canada ranks first as the happiest country in North America. However, it’s lost some ground on the global ranking, placing 15th this year compared to 14th the year prior. In contrast, the U.S. climbed three places in this year’s report and ranked just under Canada with a score of 6.97 (7.0 after rounding).
The Dominican Republic comes in last place in the region. While the Dominican Republic has experienced impressive economic growth over the last 25 years, the country was hit hard by the global pandemic—in 2020, approximately 270,000 people fell into poverty, and the economy is still struggling to reach its pre-pandemic levels.
Current Mood: Content (5.8)
Uruguay retains its top spot as the happiest country in South America. It continues to rank high on the list because of its high income per capita, relatively low levels of poverty, and strong middle class.
While Uruguay was not immune to the impacts of COVID-19, the country was able to transition smoothly to online learning and was the first country in the region to reopen schools.
In last year’s World Happiness Report, Colombia was the most improved country in the region. But this year, it’s dropped 14 places on the global ranking, making it the least improved country in this year’s report.
While Colombia has made significant strides towards elevating extreme poverty in the last few decades, it still has one of the highest levels of income inequality in Latin America. In 2020, its top 10% of workers took home more than 50% of national income.
Current Mood: Happy (6.5)
Finland is not only the happiest country in Europe, but it also takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world, for the fifth year in a row. Finland is one of five Nordic countries to place in the top 10. Denmark comes in second place, followed by Iceland in third.
Romania was the most improved country in Europe, climbing 18 spots on the global ranking since last year’s report. Over the last decade, the country has seen some of the most significant economic growth in the European Union and was able to bounce back quickly from its COVID-19- triggered slump.
Ukraine ranks in last place, making it the unhappiest country in Europe. Ukraine has experienced ongoing challenges since the Maidan Uprising peaked in 2014. Events in the country have recently taken a turn for the worse, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. As a result of the conflict, over 3 million people have fled the country.
Middle East and Central Asia
Current Mood: It’s Complicated (5.2)
Turkmenistan is the most improved country in the region, rising 19 places on the global ranking since last year’s report. The country’s boost could be explained by its rapid economic growth in recent years. In 2021, the country’s GDP grew by an estimated 6.3%.
For the last two years, Lebanon has been dealing with a slew of crises. In 2020, COVID-19 spurred an economic crisis that’s been ranked as one of the top 10 most severe economic crises since the mid-nineteenth century. And on August 4th, 2020, a massive ammonium nitrate explosion left the country’s capital city, Beirut, in shambles.
East Asia and Oceania
Current Mood: Neutral (5.6)
Note: As the report only covers 146 countries, “Oceania” only refers to Australia and New Zealand in this instance.
In this year’s report, China climbed 12 places on the global ranking, making it the most improved country in East Asia and Oceania. The Chinese government recently identified “common prosperity” as a top priority, and has made numerous policy shifts in an effort to combat inequality and eradicate poverty.
On the flipside, Thailand has improved the least in the region, likely because of the significant toll that COVID-19 had on the country’s economy. In 2020, economic growth shrunk by 6.1% in Thailand—the country’s worst contraction since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. Thailand’s economy is not expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.
Current Mood: Unhappy (4.5)
With a regional score of 4.5, Africa ranks as the unhappiest region worldwide. Zimbabwe remains the most unhappy country in the region, as it continues to struggle with high levels of poverty. In 2021, approximately 6.1 million people were living below the international poverty line.
Mauritius remains the happiest country in the region, likely because of its relatively high levels of income. It’s worth noting that Mauritius became a High-Income country in July 2020, but slipped back to its Upper-Middle-Income status in 2021 because of the global pandemic.
We’re into our third year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s clear that countries worldwide are still reeling from the pandemic’s devastating health, social, and economic impact. It’s unclear when things will fully return to normal—if ever. But on the bright side, countries are slowly showing signs of recovery.
Editor’s note: We’ve adjusted the “How is Happiness Measured” portion of this article to better reflect the methodology used in the World Happiness Report
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
In this visualization, we look at how international recognition of Israel and Palestine breaks down among the 193 UN member states.
Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
The modern-day conflict between Israel and Palestine emerged from the British Mandate for Palestine, which administered the former Ottoman Empire territory after World War I. But even after 75 years—and declarations of independence from each side—universal recognition eludes them.
In this visualization, we look at how Israel and Palestine recognition breaks down among the 193 UN member states as of November 14, 2023, using Wikpedia data for each state.
A Declaration of Independence
The Jewish People’s Council declared the foundation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (the same day that the last British forces left Haifa) on the basis of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which divided the Mandate territories between Jewish and Arab populations.
U.S. President Truman granted de-facto recognition 11 minutes after the Israeli declaration. Not to be outdone by their Cold War adversary, the U.S.S.R. followed suit three days later with de-jure recognition and was joined by Warsaw Pact allies Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland.
By the end of 1948, 21 countries recognized Israel.
A Second Declaration of Independence
A declaration of independence for the State of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, didn’t happen until 40 years later.
In the midst of the First Intifada, a five-year-long Palestinian uprising that began in 1987, the Palestine Liberation Organization proclaimed the new state in the city of Algiers on November 15, 1988.
A dozen countries, including 10 members of the Arab League along with Malaysia and Yemen, immediately recognized the new state. The Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and most of the Muslim world also joined in recognizing the State of Palestine.
Recognition of Israel and Palestine by Country
As of November 2023, 163 UN member states have recognized Israel, while 138 have recognized Palestine.
|UN Member State||Recognize Israel 🇮🇱||Recognize Palestine 🇵🇸|
|🇦🇬||Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||Yes|
|🇧🇦||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇫||Central African Republic||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇩||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇫🇲||Federated States of Micronesia||Yes||No|
|🇵🇬||Papua New Guinea||Yes||Yes|
|🇨🇬||Republic of the Congo||Yes||Yes|
|🇰🇳||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Yes||Yes|
|🇻🇨||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Yes||Yes|
|🇸🇹||São Tomé and Príncipe||Yes||Yes|
|🇹🇹||Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No|
|🇦🇪||United Arab Emirates||Yes||Yes|
Most of the countries that do not currently recognize Israel are Muslim-majority countries. However, some Muslim-majority countries have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, who specifically agreed to do so under peace treaties signed in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
Several conflicts have also resulted in some countries suspending relations with Israel. The 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars (also called the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War, respectively) all saw countries suspend diplomatic relations, including Mali and the Maldives. In the case of Eastern Bloc countries that did so in 1967 and 1973, many resumed relations after the fall of the Soviet Union.
On the other side, despite more countries recognizing the State of Palestine over time, none of the G7 and only nine of the G20 have recognized the state. Similarly, only a minority of the EU has endorsed the declaration.
Israel and Palestine continue to vie for recognition in the international arena, with the former gaining recognition from a few countries including Bhutan and the UAE in 2020, and the latter from Colombia in 2018 and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2019.
But universal recognition continues to elude both sides, with many countries awaiting a formal resolution to the conflict from the two sides.
It’s worth noting that both Israel and Palestine took steps towards recognition under the Oslo Accords, signed on September 13, 1993. The agreement saw Palestine recognize the State of Israel, put an end to the First Intifada, and allowed for limited self-government under a new Palestinian National Authority in Gaza and the West Bank. It promised to lay the groundwork for a two-state solution; a promise of peace that has yet to be realized.
Markets6 days ago
Charted: The Industries Where Asian Companies are the Strongest
Brands2 weeks ago
Ranked: Average Black Friday Discounts for Major Retailers
Brands2 weeks ago
Ranked: Fast Food Brands with the Most U.S. Locations
Markets2 weeks ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Imports from U.S. Trading Partners
Markets1 week ago
Ranked: The Biggest Retailers in the U.S. by Revenue
Globalization1 week ago
The Top 50 Largest Importers in the World
Maps1 week ago
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?
Education1 week ago
Ranked: America’s Best Universities