Before all you eager beavers out there dig any deeper into this article, take a moment and see if you can guess what the world’s happiest country is according to Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index for 2013. Here’s a hint, it has a canal and Van Halen once wrote a song named after it.
That’s right all you hard-rocking geography enthusiasts skulking at the back of the class, the answer is Panama. The southernmost country of Central America is the place to be if you’re a jovial sort of soul that wears their frowns upside down and just cannot abide miserable people or party poopers in any shape or form.
For years, Denmark was considered happiness central in the satisfaction stakes, but it would appear the Scandinavian nation’s mood has darkened somewhat in recent months, and Panama’s has just shone brighter.
How on earth does anybody calculate the overall happiness of a country you ask. Well, it’s pretty simply for the guys and gals at the Global Well-Being Index. They pick a country and gauge the inhabitant’s perceptions of their well-being, by looking at their financial status, their physical health, their love life, their social life and their sense of community.
And guess what? According to LiveScience, Panama has the highest scores in the world for four of the five well-being elements – purpose, social, community and physical well-being. The survey revealed that 61 percent of Panamanians were thriving in three or more elements.
“Panama’s strong and growing economy, an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in 2013, and national development may be the most significant factors contributing to its high thriving levels,” Gallup officials said.
Panama is unusual because according to Gallup officials only one in 16 adults (17 percent) worldwide were regarded as ‘thriving’ in at least three of the five elements of well-being.
“Each element of well-being is important on its own, but the elements are also interdependent and well-being is more than the sum of the elements. That only 17 percent of residents in the 135 countries and areas surveyed are thriving in three or more elements underscores how most of the world is struggling to achieve high well-being.”
Out of the 135 countries surveyed, conflict-afflicted countries such as Afghanistan and Syria showed the lowest rates of happiness. Surprisingly the United States didn’t even break into the top 10 and came in at a dour number 14 behind happy bedfellows such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Uruguay, Guatemala, Brazil, and dare we say it, Canada.
According to Gallup, in the United States just 33 percent of its residents are considered to be thriving.
“The U.S. in 2013 had good-but-not-great well-being compared with the rest of the world.”
Oh well! I hear Toronto is a nice place to live.