Last updated: 02:31 PM ET, Fri March 20 2015

Ranking The Happiest Places on Earth

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | March 20, 2015

Ranking The Happiest Places on Earth

All photos courtesy their respective countries tourism bureaus unless otherwise noted.

In honor of World Happiness Day today, CNN recently recounted the Sustainable Development Solutions Network of the United States' World Happiness Report. The way the network determined their happiest places was by dividing the available measures of happiness into three main types: measures of positive emotions (positive affect) including happiness, usually asked about the day preceding the survey; measures of negative emotions (negative affect) again asked about the preceding day; and evaluations of life as a whole. With another report due out this year, let’s see who the top five favorites are going into this year.

5.  Sweden

Just because they are mostly blonde-haired and blue-eyed doesn’t mean they are always happy, or does it?  The land of Viking heritage and the birthplace of IKEA does have a lot going for it.  Even with the country being as far north as it is, the winters are typically milder than Russia, the United States and Canada.  Mostly this is because of the way the Gulf Stream flows.

Sweden ranks high in life expectancy and drinking water and low in infant mortality. All children are given school lunch for free, and there are subsidies for college tuition. For visitors to the country, there is an amazing amount of arts, history and culture to explore. Skiing is big in the winter, mountain biking in the summer and fishing, golf and spas are all traditional things to do when you are there on vacation.

4.  Netherlands

Tulips alone are one of the greatest things about the Netherlands and certainly a perfectly fine reason to be happy.  The Keukenhof Gardens are the place to go if you want to see them all in full bloom. And let’s be honest, for the younger kids, the Red Light District and the Hash Bars have a certain appeal and may be something to get happy about. 

The diet of the Dutch was typically high in carbohydrates and fat back in the day to support the laborers but nowadays has become much more cosmopolitan with influence of other ethnicities. They were even ranked as the country with the most nutritious, plentiful and healthy food.

3.  Switzerland

"Vals06" via Wikimedia Commons.

You may know the country for its cheese and chocolate, but it is so much more. Obviously, you have a ton of skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the winter, mountain biking in the winter. Music is a big part of their heritage and who doesn’t want to hear an Alphorn live and in person?  If you want to see the Alps at their finest, there is no better way than with a ride on the Bernina Express. Climb up some of the steepest slopes all the time gazing out oversized windows. 

2.  Norway

Are we noticing a northern European theme here? Apparently those folks know how to do it right. Oslo is the culinary capital of the country with many restaurants earning five Michelin Stars. Nature is the theme here with lots to do no matter what season you are visiting. Skiing trips, river cruises and wildlife safaris are all popular activities in the area. There are plenty of museums, galleries and shopping to keep you busy as well if you are not so much the outdoorsy type. 

1.   Denmark

They are the happiest place on Earth according to the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and they are proud of it!  Whether you are going to Tivoli Gardens amusement park or the Original LEGOLAND, you are going to have a great time.  They also have a great zoo and northern Europe’s largest aquarium. If you want to get some history at the same time as your amusement, go to Bakken, the oldest amusement park in the world.

So get out there and get happy!  There are so many reasons to be happy today, traveling is the best one of them!


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