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A Gallup Inc. survey of 150,000 in 148 countries and found that the world’s happiest nations are to be found in Latin America.
About 1,000 people in each of the 148 countries were asked five general questions – if they were well-rested, felt respected, smiled or laughed a lot, learned, did something interesting or felt feelings of enjoyment the day before.
In Panama and Paraguay, 85 per cent of those polled said yes to all five questions, putting those countries at the top of the list reporting a positive outlook.
They were followed closely by El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Guatemala, the Philippines, Ecuador and Costa Rica.
Industrialised nations, however, fared poorly. The US ranked 33rd in terms of the positive vibes it gave, but countries like Germany and France came in 47th, tied with… Somaliland.
The people least likely to say they were happy apparently lived in Singapore, one of the more organized and developed countries in the world.
War torn or post-war nations such as Armenia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti were also among the “saddest” nations with little to no positive outlook.
Conversely, the UN Development Index in 2011 measured happiness as a product of life expectancy, income and education, and said Norway had the most reason to be happy. The US came in fourth place with Germany in ninth.
The Gallup poll appears to show that financial concerns do not affect general feelings of happiness.
According to the poll, Latin Americans pursue lives with a belief system that the real value of happiness is more likely to be found in strong family and friendship bonds and spirituality rather than materialistic things.