San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica is still the happiest country in the world

A new report released Thursday finds that Costa Rica and Vietnam are the ‘happiest’ countries in the world based upon the health and happiness produced per unit of environmental output.

These findings come from the Happy Planet Index compiled by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which ranks 151 countries around the world based upon their “efficiency [and] how many long and happy lives each country produces per unit of environmental output.”

The Happy Planet Index rank is based upon global data of life expectancy, happiness and environmental sustainability and is calculated as follows (Experienced well-being X Life expectancy) / Ecological Footprint.

The data for well-being is taken from the Gallup World Poll, ‘life expectancy’ is based upon the 2011 United Nations Human Development Report and ‘ecological footprint’ is calculated from data provided by the WWF.

For Costa Rica, this is the second year in a row at top of the list. The list seems to have be slanted toward Central America countries. Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua all made the list. El Salvador, ranked 5th, has the second highest murder rate in the world.

Typically the report found that high-income countries, such as the UK (ranked 41st) and the US (ranked 105th), received a low overall score due to the large per-capita ecological footprint. Norway placed in 29th position while Japan came in 45th.

The unhappiest places in the world were Botswana, Chad and Qatar.

According to the Happy Planet Index the top ten ‘happiest countries’ are:

01. Costa Rica
02. Vietnam
03. Colombia
04. Belize
05. El Salvador
06. Jamaica
07. Panama
08. Nicaragua
09. Venezuela
10. Guatemala

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