These Are the World’s Happiest Countries in 2024

The World Happiness Report is out with its latest country rankings. Here’s a look at the countries that topped the list—and what the world’s happiest country can teach us about how to find joy.

Red and white cabin on a lake island in Finland

Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the seventh year in a row.

Photo by Shutterstock

In 2012, the United Nations declared March 20 as the International Day of Happiness. Twelve years later, the 2024 World Happiness Report, which just released its latest rankings of the world’s happiest countries, zeroed in on the happiness of people at different stages of life.

Regardless of whether you’re young or old, these are the countries where people rate themselves as happiest and are most satisfied with their lives.

What is the happiest country in the world?

According to the 2024 World Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world for the seventh year in a row. It’s followed by Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Israel, and the Netherlands in the annual survey released on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, that ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. European countries, including Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg dominate the rest of the top 10. (It’s worth noting that the survey in Israel took place after the attacks on October 7, 2023, but before the ensuing escalation in warfare, according to the report.)

The only country beside Israel outside of Europe to make the top 10 in 2024 is Australia, which ranked 10th. The United States dropped considerably to 23rd this year, down from its spot at 15 in the rankings last year, while the United Kingdom dropped one spot since last year to 20th.

Why are the Finnish so happy?

“Finnish happiness boils down to the simple things in life: connecting with nature, caring for one’s mind and body, and appreciating design and art around us. Happiness can be found in moments of pure contentment you get when the setting is just right: on a bike ride in a forest with the perfect playlist on or enjoying a post-sauna sausage while cooling off on a beautiful summer evening,” stated Heli Jimenez, senior director of international marketing at Business Finland, which is part of the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

The World Happiness Report bases its annual rankings predominantly on data from the main life evaluation question in the Gallup World Poll.

In it, respondents are asked to rate their current lives on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best possible life for them and 0 being the worst possible life. The countries that made the top 10 this year ranged from Australia’s 7.057 up to 7.741 for Finland at the top. Afghanistan had the lowest score at 1.721.

While these results are based entirely on self-reported perceptions of satisfaction, factors that the World Happiness Report says contribute to making these life evaluations better in each country include a higher GDP per capita, a strong social support system, higher life expectancy, greater freedom, absence of government and corporate corruption, and charitable giving.

“Rankings differ a lot for the young and the old. In some cases these favor the old, as in the United States and Canada, where the rankings for those aged 60 and older are 50 or more places higher than for those under 30. In other cases, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, the reverse is true, with many rankings being more than 40 places higher for the young than for the old,” the Happiness Report concludes. “In almost every global region . . . social interactions add to happiness, with their effects flowing through increases in social support and reductions in loneliness.”

Colorful houses along canal with red and white boat.

Denmark ranked second in the 2024 World Happiness Report.

Courtesy of Adrian Cuj/Unsplash

The 30 happiest countries in the world in 2024

If you’re looking for inspiration for your upcoming travels and like the idea of traveling to a place where happiness is in ample supply, these are the 30 happiest countries in the world, according to the 2024 World Happiness Report.

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Israel
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland
  10. Australia
  11. New Zealand
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Kuwait
  14. Austria
  15. Canada
  16. Belgium
  17. Ireland
  18. Czechia
  19. Lithuania
  20. United Kingdom
  21. Slovenia
  22. United Arab Emirates
  23. United States
  24. Germany
  25. Mexico
  26. Uruguay
  27. France
  28. Saudi Arabia
  29. Kosovo
  30. Singapore

Can traveling to the happiest country in the world bring you greater joy?

In Finland, it’s a common belief that happiness is “a skill that can be learned,” according to the country’s tourism marketing organization Visit Finland, which has unveiled a new five-day Helsinki Happiness Hacks urban expedition that will be free for select participants.

Those who are interested in participating have until April 4, 2024, to apply; Visit Finland will then select a group of lucky travelers to come to Helsinki to learn “new happiness hacks that they can apply to their everyday life”—free of charge. To be considered, applicants must complete a social media challenge and an online form.

From June 9 to 14, 2024, a group of “Helsinki Happiness Hackers” will guide participants on what makes the city’s residents so happy, based on four categories: nature and lifestyle, health and balance, food and well-being, and design.

Finland’s friendly locals, thriving culture and coffee scenes, and unfettered access to nature all make it a great destination for those looking to find greater joy in their own travels.

Arts and culture lovers will be thrilled to explore Helsinki’s museums. In the past few years, Helsinki opened Amos Rex, a world-class contemporary art museum, and Oodi, an energy-efficient public library at the center of the city designed to be the nation’s “living room.”

If being outdoors makes you happiest, Finland has plenty of that, too. Like many other Nordic residents, Finns have a close relationship to nature and get outside even during the coldest months. Finland is also home to numerous islands, many of which make for an idyllic remote escape. For those who want to relax in a serious way, Finland has more than 3 million saunas.

This article was originally published in March 2019; it was most recently updated on March 20, 2024, to include current information.

Lyndsey Matthews is the former senior commerce editor at Afar, covering travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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