The World Map of Happiness


Adrian G. White, a psychologist at the University of Leicester, produced a “world map of happiness.” The study reflects data from UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR.

The twenty happiest countries are:

  1. Denmark

  2. Switzerland

  3. Austria

  4. Iceland

  5. The Bahamas

  6. Finland

  7. Sweden

  8. Bhutan

  9. Brunei

  10. Canada

  11. Ireland

  12. Luxembourg

  13. Costa Rica

  14. Malta

  15. The Netherlands

  16. Antigua and Barbuda

  17. Malaysia

  18. New Zealand

  19. Norway

  20. The Seychelles

Other rankings: USA (23), France (62), China (82) Japan (90), India (125). Fortunately, I am married to a Danish woman.

By | 2016-10-24T14:22:21+00:00 February 16th, 2007|Categories: Cool Stuff|67 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. David Bach February 16, 2007 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Hear Hear! My wife is Norwegian.

  2. carl rahn griffith February 16, 2007 at 9:27 am - Reply

    having worked in/spent a lot of time in many of those counturies – in both a professional and personal context – i very much beg to differ!
    as ever, there are “lies, damn lies and statistics” …
    how can one apply binary metrics to subjective happiness? this listing clearly reflects the oxymoron therein.

  3. Aseem Bajaj February 16, 2007 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Interestingly most of the top 20 happy countries are small in size (except Canada that stands out, and Sweden and Finland to some extent).
    From a population stand point, all of them have relatively smaller populations.

  4. Abraham Sultan February 16, 2007 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Clearly there is one un-happy camper!
    Any idea as of where does Venezuela place on the list?

  5. Abraham Sultan February 16, 2007 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Hey Guy,
    I’m surprised that you implemented captcha comments after your post: “The Top Ten Stupid Ways to Hinder Market Adoption”
    Number 12: Unreadable confirmation codes, complains about this one but I must say that it was harder to read your captcha then the one you examplified on your post.
    I guess we’ll do anything to combat SPAM, even if it means hindering market adoption to some degree.

  6. let's be careful February 16, 2007 at 9:42 am - Reply

    the list contains “countries” not races, so please let’s not extrapolate and make statements about one’s wife being born in a particular country, I imagine that once one moves to another country, one is as happy as the local people are, happiness is not a race thing from this study, it is a time and space and geography phenomena. I would imagine that someone who is born in Denmark who moves to India would find themselves to be very unhappy

  7. Andy February 16, 2007 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Hmm, I dunno how that corelates to this. These are suicide rates per 100,000 according to World Health Org as of 1997. Maybe over the last 10 years they all got happier in Finland and Denmark? Maybe the ones who are left are happy?
    I dunno, seems weird to me
    Finland 26.4
    Denmark 20.4
    Austria 20.4
    France 19.8
    Switzerland 19.6
    Japan 15.1
    Sweden 14.7
    Germany 13.8
    Norway 13
    United States 11.8
    Netherlands 9.6

  8. HIMANSHU February 16, 2007 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Good Lord,India is at 125 !!!!

  9. Maki February 16, 2007 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I think Bhutan should be number one! Gorgeous place with incredible scenery. Loved the languid pace of life there.

  10. Paul February 16, 2007 at 10:12 am - Reply

    We also have to consider cultural-impact on the answers given. Some cultures such as the UK and Japan engender the response of ‘average’. This can mean that some nations score poorly because their culture means that when asked how good things are they do not like to ‘show off’ or ‘over estimate’ things thus creating a potential ‘average’ response.
    Personally the things I think make for happy people in a country:
    *Social mobility – far more important than money is the ability to move between social groups
    *Safety – low crime and stable finances will make it easier to concentrate on what makes you happy
    *A ‘can do’ culture – hard to measure but the ‘american dream’ long stood as a flag that said america was a land of opportunity and positive thinking (I think an amount of this has been lost to anti-americanism unfortunately)
    *Variety of experiences – the nations listed that jump out at me have varied climates, varied environments and so that constant change I believe makes things better than the feeling of ‘always the same’
    I think individual outlook plays a huge role, the old adage that “as one door closes another opens” may make some cynics kuffaw but I like its outlook

  11. Neuland February 16, 2007 at 10:43 am - Reply

    A Tale of Two Maps

    Maps can tell great stories in little time. So it is with two new visualizations I came across today — one the state-by-state and county-by-county breakdown of German patents in 2006, prepared by Der Spiegel. One look and you can

  12. Bow February 16, 2007 at 10:44 am - Reply

    I don’t agree with that. Many of that countries have high suicide rates… Where is Spain !?!?
    A spanish man married to a WONDERFUL spanish woman

  13. Peter February 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Studies like that show up all the time, and they need to be taken with a grain of salt. Only the media take that stuff seriously.
    Congratulations on being married to a danish woman though. (Am Danish myself ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  14. Shefaly February 16, 2007 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Anybody for running a correlation with the Child Poverty Report released by UNICEF earlier this week?

  15. brem February 16, 2007 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Canada is not a big country. Population wise.

  16. Morgan Ramsay February 16, 2007 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Hint: Read the story linked in the first paragraph of Guy’s post prior to posting a comment. Like all scientific studies, words are defined in specific ways. In this case, determining the “happiness” of a state is not an exact science, and “happiness” (or the satisfaction with life) is identified using three predictor variables of health, wealth, and education. Can you be happy and depressed? Yes. Happy and repressed? Yes. Happy and dead? No. Unless you are The Joker.

  17. Daniel February 16, 2007 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    My name is Daniel. I’m Austrian. Austria is ranked 3rd. And although our country has “created” Mozart and even Schwarzenegger – just to name the Good Guys -, I’ll have to tell you this: This can’t be true! Some Austrians must be the most complaining people on the planet, it seems. E.g. the weather (but you can also take politics, economy, etc.): We have the warmest winter ever. Still, the people complain about it and say it’s still too cold! I think being “unhappy” somehow built into most of us…. Like a feature designed to be cool, but failing completely, like some kind of stomach muscle building device or so. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    But on the other hand the survey – if it’s valid at all – may inspire us to live more happily. So let’s see it that way….
    Keep on Dreaming of Dakar!

  18. Change the World NOW February 16, 2007 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Your blog is awesome. Your philosophy is really enlightening. Are you working on a book???? I think part of the key to happiness is making yourself believe that the world is indeed unfolding as it should.

  19. Joe Buhler February 16, 2007 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Well, I’m Swiss but left the country more than thirty years ago mainly because I wasn’t too happy there as a young man with the ambition to discover what lies out there. I since lived in Japan, Canada, United Kingdom and the past thirteen years the U.S. Does that still qualify me a happy Swiss, I wonder!

  20. Torley February 16, 2007 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    I’m frankly shocked Thailand, “land of a thousand smiles”, isn’t on there!

  21. Skot Nelson February 16, 2007 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Canada is a small country by population, if not area.
    Most of these countries could be characterized as somewhat socialist in nature. At the very least, a streak of non-capitalism runs through the blood. Concern for the common good is a postive thing for happiness.

  22. SHAHRIR February 16, 2007 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Guy,
    I am happy to see that Malaysia has been ranked among the top 20 countries to be happy to live in.
    I think it is because of the mixed race, mixed religion, mixed tradition and mixed climate that made it ranked high.
    Whatever it is, 2007 is VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR. Do try to visit MALAYSIA to witness the COLOUR OF ASIA.

  23. Tyler February 16, 2007 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    I’m with the guy who was also shocked Thailand isn’t on the list. I’ve spent time (more than a visit) in many of the top 20, and I can assure you Thais would rank in the top 5 and Costa Rica? — maybe up until last year, man is that place turning sour overnight.

  24. Greg February 17, 2007 at 12:55 am - Reply

    This map isn’t bad, but I think it would be better done as a Cartogram, where happiness is shown as the area of the polygon that represents each country. Right now it is a Choropleth map, where the color represents the value.
    One major problem with the map is the legend, where it goes from Happy to Unhappy, but doesn’t describe the levels at all. The reader knows that the happiest group is happy, but how much less happier are the countries in the second highest group in comparison with the top group?
    I don’t know, I live in Switzerland, where you don’t often see people smiling while walking down the street. Are people that happy here?

  25. Hans Suter February 17, 2007 at 1:40 am - Reply

    “the list contains “countries” not races” good take, e.g. more than 20% of Swiss pop are foreigners.

  26. Jack February 17, 2007 at 4:58 am - Reply

    Hi – I live in number 23.
    No I am not happy.
    I am not content, so how can I be happy?
    I want to personally be more successful in all facets of my life AND make the world a better place.
    I would go crazy living someplace where the general philosophy is “take it easy” and “relax and enjoy what you have”.
    That is what makes (IMO!) number 23 a great place to live: We are not happy simply existing, we want to do and be better.

  27. Ed Bunderson February 17, 2007 at 8:38 am - Reply

    You are an idiot.

  28. Juan Araya February 17, 2007 at 9:04 am - Reply

    #13. Costa Rica…sounds about right…at least for me. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Regardless of where you are, I guess each individual has a lot of power to determine their own happiness.

  29. Zoltan February 17, 2007 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Norway, Iceland and Finnland, countries with highest suicide rates in the world among the 20 happiest? hm…
    How did they measure this?
    I guess a country with positive people like the filippines should have been in the front..

  30. Lovendahl February 17, 2007 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Here is a some inside information about Danes and why they are so happy. Not only is it a very well functioning country, where poverty is non-existing, but also a small country, where expectation are equally low. And since things tends to always go well, we keep getting pleasantly surprised. In business terms Danes under forecast and over deliver = happiest people. Or an Olympic example – If Denmark wins 2 gold medals at the Olympics we are extremely satisfied. How many gold medals will it take for the US, China or India to be satisfied?

  31. Ankur February 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Isn’t happiness more personal than about a state? What happens if in a state of a hundred people, 50 are happy for half a year and unhappy for the rest? Or if they were millionares at the beginning of the year and then lost their wealth somewhere along the line? Or fell sick for a 4th of the year? How would that be measured?
    I think I am happy most of the time. And that’s got nothing to do with geography I might be at!

  32. Decio February 17, 2007 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Here you can find the complete list. I found it searching for Italy ranking (#50).
    NEF has a similar list, which is based on a less documented calculation, but takes account into Ecological Footprint, a detail often forgotten, and not just by Adrian.

  33. anna February 17, 2007 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Good use for the American’s tax money again.
    If the Finnish people are so happy, why do they do so many suicides?
    And if they are so happy, why don’t you ever see any happy Finnish people in Finland? All the happy people you ever see in that country are the Americans.

  34. biu February 17, 2007 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Donde esta the U.S.

  35. Jakub Vajner February 17, 2007 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    I don’t want to sound negative, but this is a perfect example that ignorance is a bliss. I lived in Denmark for past three years, I have a Danish girlfriend and live currently in Japan (number 90 on the list). I would say that despite the fact that I love Denmark, most Danes are happy because they are ignorant of the problems of the world and of their own society. They live in their little country, preserving the “danish lifestyle” and “hygge” and they are happy. I say cheers to that! But I have to disagree with Lovendahl’s post. Non-existent poverty? Well functioning society? I call that Danish dream. Sorry.

  36. Yakito February 17, 2007 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Hey where is South America! Damn! We are happy here also

  37. Fluid February 17, 2007 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    ha ha! France is # 62? Paris should be last on the list, ha ha ha!

  38. Simon February 18, 2007 at 3:21 am - Reply

    being from Denmark, and having lived both in the US and India, I know that this study will only tell you this much. I love Denmark for all it is, but consider that Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland are located in cold and dark climates that causes winter-depression (SAD) 3-4 months a year. If Thailand is the country of a 1000 smiles, Denmark at this time of the year would be the country of a 1000 sad looks…

  39. franticindustries February 18, 2007 at 3:23 am - Reply

    I wouldn’t trust a guy who puts out a map which still has Yugoslavia instead of the new republics that formed after its fall 17 years ago.

  40. harleyghost February 18, 2007 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Happiness is pretty subjective, at least I think so. I’ve always been taught that happiness is contingent on your circumstances .. since those could change at any given moment in time … I suppose Denmark has less change associated with its population. But what do I know … very little. I live in the 23rd spot.

  41. aw February 18, 2007 at 7:39 am - Reply

    I’m Malaysian, have been here for over 20 years and I’m wondering: How did Malaysia get 17th?!
    Read any number of blogs at, a Malaysian blog aggregator, and you will find out about the blatant corruption, nepotism and institutionalized racism that a lot of people are unhappy about!
    All ethnicities except for the Malays have to pay 5-10% MORE for housing (that could be $20,000 if buying a $200,000 house), has close to zero chance of getting a government scholarship/loan/contract. That’s the tip of the iceberg. The government routinely rips off the public on highway tolls, public services, monopolized Internet services, and cars.
    Heard of the little car company that bought Lotus? Proton? Yeah, that’s us. We have to pay US$28K for the Proton Perdana, which is based on the 20-years-old Mitsubishi Eterna, has NO AIRBAGS and many technological generations behind an Accord that you can get for US$28K. (An mid-spec’ed 4-cyl Accord is US$40K here) Yeah, that’s where they get the profits to buy Lotus.

  42. blog of geewiz February 18, 2007 at 7:47 am - Reply

    Germany isn’t a very happy place

    ScienceDaily reports that a pychologist from the University of Leicester published the first world map of happiness.
    The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide.

  43. Webconomist February 18, 2007 at 8:03 am - Reply

    According to UN and other studies, the 5 best countries to live in are ALL Constitutional Monarchies: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Canada. None are republics. I live in Canada, and aside from January & February am rather happy, I’m also an ExPat Brit. As the Danes and the Dutch have their “dream”, so does Canada. Perhaps the mix is Socialism, Constutional Monarchism and Capitalism blended? I think these societies are more pluralist and liberal, therefore happier.

  44. Webconomist February 18, 2007 at 8:04 am - Reply

    According to UN and other studies, the 5 best countries to live in are ALL Constitutional Monarchies: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Canada. None are republics. I live in Canada, and aside from January & February am rather happy, I’m also an ExPat Brit. As the Danes and the Dutch have their “dream”, so does Canada. Perhaps the mix is Socialism, Constutional Monarchism and Capitalism blended? I think these societies are more pluralist and liberal, therefore happier.

  45. pickleshane February 18, 2007 at 11:29 am - Reply

    “Land of Thousand Smiles” is a tourism campaign, it does not mean Thais are generally happy.

  46. DunnoAboutThat February 18, 2007 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Bow, Out of all countries (9) we visited in Europe I reckon the spanish (well, I can only speak of northern Spain) were the rudest, sour, unfriendliest bunch!

  47. T-Shirts February 18, 2007 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Wow, I would have thought Japan would have been much lower on the list.

  48. creativecocktails February 18, 2007 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Very interesting..
    Disturbing though is Australia is’nt on the
    list! (My home country
    PS Great site !

  49. Aaron February 18, 2007 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    I’m definitely happy to be a Canadian. Sure, it’s cold for a few months of the year, and we’re responsible for Howie Mandel, but free health care, economic prosperity, and an enviable standard of living? Not bad, eh?

  50. TECH CRUNCH ME.COM February 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    These studies are a bunch of gar-bage(French)!
    No one came and asked if I was happy. How many of you were included in this survey? My point exactly. For unbiased technology news that’s not so serious and boring visit

  51. john harper February 19, 2007 at 5:51 am - Reply

    Someone needs to tell Bill O’Reilly

  52. Anders Riedel February 19, 2007 at 6:55 am - Reply

    I’m Danish and my girlfriend is Norwegian and I believe that there is a difference, just as the survey show. But you can’t see the difference in Oslo/Southern Norway Vs. Copenhagen. It’s because Norway is such a huge country with only 4.5 million people, that they’re #19. Some of them are more Russian than they are Scandinavian – It’s the same with countries like China, where much of the population is concentrated on the east coast – ask them alone and China wouldn’t be #82. My bet is that Oslo alone would definitely be in the top 5. As for the other countries, I’m puzzled about some of the them, but pretty sure it’s a good indicator all in all. Remember that Denmark is a small country (both in population and size) with aprox. 5.5 million people and we pretty much have the same opinions all the way round. We have the worlds best health and social system, so we really don’t have a lot of (major) stuff to think about in our everyday life. We worry about all the small things and we worry way to much about ’em. On top of that we have the money to buy a house that are too expensive, if just one thing goes wrong. We have the excess money to use on online poker with the risk of going broke and the money to buy crap we really don’t need even though we pay 50+ per cent in taxes and 280 per cent on our cars. So overall we’re happy, we worry only in short periods of time. The sad thing is that when we are worried it’s about stuff like >>why doesn’t he want to be with me< <, >>What if i don’t get that raise my neighbour got< < or >>I feel so alone and everybody seems so happy<<. Thougts like that tend to trigger extreme reactions (look at Britney, she shaved her head the other day) and for some people it's enough for you to want to go take a dive from a bridge. The problem is that we don't need to "fight" for anthing, it's there right in front of your nose and there are a lot of people who just can't cope with that. It could be compared to when an actor or actress starts to drink or do drugs. They have it all and then they begin to worry about the small things or you could look at a retired businessman - He collapses because he has all the money in the world, but no business to fight for any longer. When asked he would be ashamed of himself to say that he's unhappy, compared to an African boy fighting for his life. For people who are able to set up new goals for themselves and the country they live in and realize that there's a lot of things we can do better, but at the same time appreciate what they got, Denmark is one of the best and happiest countries in the world no doubt about it. And thankfully that is the majority of us ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. Roy February 19, 2007 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Being from Norway, I think it’s OK to be #19

  54. February 19, 2007 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    yeah, in austria is better

  55. Malou February 19, 2007 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Marianne Poulsen, Director of Innovation Center Denmark wants me to pass this link to you. “I am sure he will get a kick out of it. Turns out that we have score number one in satisfaction for almost 30 years and a group of Danish researchers decided to find out why. They tested a number of hypothesis and it is really fun reading.”

  56. Career Goddess February 21, 2007 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Is Everybody Happy? Work/Life Balance Makes Sense

    Someone called me today in need of coaching regarding work/life issues (it was actually for his wife, who was too busy to be able to make the call herself). This reminded me that the ‘perfect job’ entails more than using

  57. Career Hub February 21, 2007 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Is Everybody Happy? Work/Life Balance Makes Sense

    Someone called me today in need of coaching regarding work/life issues (it was actually for his wife, who was too busy to be able to make the call herself). This reminded me that the ‘perfect job’ entails more than using

  58. Jonas Antonsson February 22, 2007 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Go Iceland ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. [Smalltalk] February 22, 2007 at 6:57 am - Reply


    According to this study, Austrians are the third-happiest people in the world. Only the folks from Denmark and Switzerland are happier than we Austrians. Great to hear that! (Via Guy Kawasaki’s weblog)…

  60. John Dodds February 22, 2007 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Are you saying that your being married to a Danish woman makes the rest of Denmark very happy? ;O)

  61. Wilhelm Halys February 23, 2007 at 8:08 am - Reply

    The happiness is something a little bit abstract concept that somehow we associate with our emotional state, and our emotional state depends of our point of view in a moment of our lives and it’s hard to generalize to everyone…
    I think it’s better a study about our life behaviours and satisfactions.

  62. [click on image to enlarge] February 24, 2007 at 9:29 am - Reply


    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Guy Kawasaki just blogged about a study that measures the happiness of countries around the world.
    Malaysia and New Zealand, two places that are very close to my heart, are ranked 17 and 18 respectively. …

  63. oseas February 25, 2007 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    That last line just made you my hero!

  64. gx February 27, 2007 at 8:36 am - Reply

    China is ranked 82?
    Is there 83 countrys all the world?
    I’m chinese.

  65. Terry B April 3, 2007 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    I have to say, this list does nothing for me.
    I dont understand how it was measured and if it were true what it means.

  66. Mohammad April 27, 2007 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    What is the rank of Iranians when it comes to happiness?

  67. sudipta September 18, 2007 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    what about Pakistan? or Afghanistan? on which number they are present now?
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