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Finland is the world's happiest country: Nordic nations dominate global list while UK drops five places to 18th - while Zimbabwe comes last

Second place: A man bathes in a hot spring in Iceland which jumped two places to second in the table after escaping relatively lightly during the pandemic

  • Nordic nations dominated the table with Finland, Iceland and Denmark at the top
  • Switzerland, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, NZ and Austria also in top ten  
  • The UK dropped five places to 18th amid a decline in mental health during Covid 

Finland has been ranked the world's happiest nation in a new study while the UK slumped five places to 18th after a year of turmoil and Zimbabwe came last in the global rankings. 

Nordic countries dominated the the World Happiness Report in the year of the pandemic, with Finland, Iceland and Denmark taking the top three spots while Sweden was sixth and Norway eighth.  
Finland's death rate from Covid-19 is the lowest in the EU and the country scored highly on measures of freedom, healthy lifestyles and social solidarity - while New Zealand was also in the top ten after virtually stamping out transmission of the virus.

But Britain suffered one of the larger drops, with one chapter in the report saying that mental health has been 'one of the greatest casualties' of the pandemic. 

Scroll down for the full rankings 

First place: Young people take a selfie in Finland which has been named the world\'s happiest country in a new study, taking top spot for the fourth year running

First place: Young people take a selfie in Finland which has been named the world's happiest country in a new study, taking top spot for the fourth year running 

Last place: A woman walks past a burning barricade in Zimbabwe, which came bottom of this year\'s table behind Tanzania and Jordan

Last place: A woman walks past a burning barricade in Zimbabwe, which came bottom of this year's table behind Tanzania and Jordan 

Researchers said Finland had come top in a 'lamentable year' partly because it has always ranked highly on measures of the 'mutual trust' needed to combat Covid-19.

The Finnish government hailed the country's victory on Twitter today after the nation of 5.5million topped the poll for the fourth year running.   

Iceland, which has also escaped fairly lightly from the pandemic, jumped three places to come second, overtaking Denmark which came third.  

The five Nordic countries, also including Sweden and Norway, have all been in the top ten of the World Happiness Reports's surveys every year since 2013. 

The study last year credited 'extensive welfare benefits, low corruption, and well-functioning democracy and state institutions' with the Nordic nations' success.  

They were joined in the top ten by their European neighbours Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, as well as New Zealand. 

The Pacific nation has been widely celebrated abroad after recording just 26 deaths from Covid-19 - although it actually dropped one place from eighth to ninth. 

Israel, Australia, Ireland, the United States and Canada came just outside the top ten, with the US climbing two places despite a year of tumult.  

But the UK dropped five places to 18th, after Britons' average 'life evaluation' dropped from a score of 7.17 to 6.80 out of ten.   

Second place: A man bathes in a hot spring in Iceland which jumped two places to second in the table after escaping relatively lightly during the pandemic

Second place: A man bathes in a hot spring in Iceland which jumped two places to second in the table after escaping relatively lightly during the pandemic 

Third place: People splash in a fountain in Denmark which dropped one spot to third, with all five Nordic nations once again appearing in the top ten

Third place: People splash in a fountain in Denmark which dropped one spot to third, with all five Nordic nations once again appearing in the top ten 

One chapter in the report which looked at the pandemic in the UK found an eight per cent drop in mental well-being according to one measure.     

Britain will next week mark a year since the start of the first nationwide lockdown, which has been followed by two further stay-at-home orders in the winter months. 

A fifth of Britain's population experienced persistently worse mental health during the first six months of the crisis, researchers found.

Young women were initially worst affected, while women aged 65 and over saw more persistent declines in their mental health. 

Those with large groups of friends before the pandemic, and those who lost work after April 2020, were more likely to have suffered a lengthy mental health decline.  

Mark Williamson, head of the charity Action for Happiness, said: 'This has been a tough year for so many of us and the World Happiness Report shows that the UK has suffered more than most when it comes to happiness.

'Policymakers should take this as an opportunity to centre human happiness and wellbeing as we recover from the pandemic so that we can build back happier.

'The report also shows the importance of trust and community benevolence, which really means kindness and doing things for others. Not only do these things make us happier, but when it comes to Covid, they can save lives.' 

Britain did come ahead of France, Spain and Italy, which have all imposed strict lockdowns at various stages of the pandemic. 

The UK dropped five places to 18th as the lockdown took its toll on mental health (pictured, a police officer enforcing the rules in Scarborough)

The UK dropped five places to 18th as the lockdown took its toll on mental health (pictured, a police officer enforcing the rules in Scarborough) 

But the UK's drop allowed Ireland to move ahead of Britain into 14th, having been one place behind in the 2017-19 rankings.  

Also suffering a significant drop was Brazil, where the virus has killed nearly 300,000 people amid public health chaos and political bitterness over the response. 

The South American country fell from 29th to 41st in the table, which included 95 countries that researchers were able to survey during the pandemic. 

Meanwhile China climbed from 69th to 52nd after becoming the only major economy to enjoy a year of growth in 2020 despite the initial outbreak in Wuhan. 

Lower down the table, there were low marks for Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Jordan which occupied the bottom three spots in the table. 

India also fared poorly in 91st, scoring only 4.3 out of ten in the happiness survey and ranking worse than European nations on social support and corruption.  

The rankings were mainly powered by a Gallup World Poll asking people about their happiness, but also included other measures to include the impact of Covid-19.  

However, researchers said changes to the overall rankings had been relatively modest, saying it was 'remarkable that the averages are so stable'.   

Authors said the relatively small changes may reflect both the global nature of the pandemic and a 'widely-shared resilience'.  

The study is carried out by the UN-backed Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. 

Full rankings: The 2021 World Happiness Report  

1. Finland

2. Iceland

3. Denmark

4. Switzerland

5. Netherlands

6. Sweden

7. Germany

8. Norway

9. New Zealand

10. Austria

11. Israel

12. Australia

13. Ireland

14. United States

15. Canada

16. Czech Republic

17. Belgium

18. United Kingdom

19. Taiwan 

20. France

21. Saudi Arabia

22. Slovakia

23. Croatia

24. Spain

25. Italy

26. Slovenia

27. United Arab Emirates

28. Estonia

29. Lithuania

30. Uruguay

31. Kosovo

32. Cyprus

33. Kyrgyzstan

34. Latvia

35. Bahrain

36. Kazakhstan

37. Malta

38. Chile

39. Poland

40. Japan

41. Brazil

42. Serbia

43. Hungary

44. Mauritius

45. Mongolia

46. Mexico

47. Argentina

48. Thailand 

 

49. Moldova

50. South Korea

51. Greece

52. China (excluding Hong Kong) 

53. Portugal

54. Montenegro

55. Colombia

56. Bulgaria

57. Bolivia

58. Bosnia and Herzegovina

59. Nigeria

60. Russia

61. El Salvador

62. Tajikistan

63. Albania

64. Ecuador

65. Ghana

66. Hong Kong 

67. Laos

68. Bangladesh

69. Ukraine

70. Ivory Coast

71. Cameroon

72. Dominican Republic

73. Georgia

74. Philippines

75. North Macedonia

76. South Africa

77. Iran

78. Turkey

79. Zambia

80. Morocco

81. Iraq

82. Tunisia

83. Uganda

84. Venezuela

85. Ethiopia

86. Kenya

87. Egypt

88. Namibia

89. Myanmar

90. Benin

91. Cambodia

92. India

93. Jordan

94. Tanzania

95. Zimbabwe

 

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