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Asian countries lag behind European ones in UN’s global ranking for happiness

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  • The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its 2022 World Happiness Report, showing Asian countries lagging behind their European counterparts.

  • In the index of 146 nations, the “happiest” Asian country is Israel at 9th place, and the least happy was considered to be Afghanistan in the 146th spot.

  • The report also ranks Taiwan as the happiest country (26th in the world) in East Asia, Singapore (27th) in Southeast Asia and Nepal (84th) in South Asia.

  • Finland remains at the top overall spot for happiest country in the world for the fifth straight year, while the United States ranks 16th, and the United Kingdom ranks 17th.

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Based on the UN’s latest World Happiness Report, Asian countries ranked well behind their European counterparts.

On March 18, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its 2022 World Happiness Report, with only one Asian country making it into the top 20 happiest countries in the world.

West Asia

The highest ranking Asian countries on the list are all from Western Asia, with Israel taking the top spot among Asian countries at 9th place overall among 146 countries. It is followed by Bahrain in 21st place, the United Arab Emirates in 24th and Saudi Arabia in 25th.

East Asia

Among East Asian countries, the report ranks Taiwan as the happiest in the 26th spot overall. Japan follows in 54th place, South Korea in 59th, mainland China in 72nd and Hong Kong in 81st place.  

Southeast Asia

Singapore tops Southeast Asian nations at the 27th spot, followed by the Philippines, which ranks 60th and Thailand 61st. Malaysia is listed at 70th place, Vietnam at 77th, Indonesia at 87th, Laos at 95th, Cambodia at 114th and Myanmar at 126th. Brunei was not listed.

South Asia

In 84th place, Nepal is deemed the happiest country in South Asia. Bangladesh at 94th, Pakistan 121st, Sri Lanka 127th and India at 136th. Afghanistan, which falls under both South and Central Asia, is ranked at the very bottom of the list in the 146th spot.

The annual report measures people’s happiness, or their subjective evaluation of their well-being, by taking into account six key variables: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and freedom from corruption.

This year, the report also highlights the effects of COVID-19 and notes that people are happier in countries where citizens have more trust in their governments. According to the report, the future of happiness now depends on how current military conflicts and the pandemic will pan out.

Finland remains the happiest country in the world for the fifth straight year, followed by fellow Northern European countries Denmark in 2nd place and Iceland in 3rd. Switzerland and the Netherlands round up the top five in 4th and 5th place, respectively.

Meanwhile, the United States ranks in 16th place, behind Canada in the 15th spot and ahead of the United Kingdom in 17th.

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