Just in: Australia ranked the 12th happiest country in the world

Key factors used to evaluate happiness included a healthy life expectancy, social support and the freedom to make life choices

Leah Glynn
Maya Skidmore
Two happy people in silhouette jumping at the beach at sunset
Photography: Jill Welling

Here's some news to pop a smile on your dial. Australia's long been referred to as 'the lucky country' and now we can start saying we're one of the happiest countries in the world, too. 

The United Nation's 2023 World Happiness Index has just been released, and Australia has come in at a very cheery 12th position. The index is based on survey data that asks people from the globe how satisfied they are with their lives based on a scale from one to ten. 2023’s ranking results were drawn from 2020, 2021 and 2022 (pretty bleak years, if you ask us), and are indicative of how people all over the world experienced the pandemic. 

Which country is the happiest in the world?

For the sixth year in a row, Finland took out first place for the world’s happiest country. The small northern European nation has long been heralded as one of the cheeriest places in the world. It's followed by Denmark in second place, Iceland in third and Israel in fourth. 

Where did Australia rank in the happiest countries list? 

Our great southern land ranked 12th on the list this year. This is the same as it was in 2022, but we dropped down from our position of 11th in 2020. The highest we’ve been in the last decade was in 2016, when we were ranked ninth globally. This year, we were just beaten by New Zealand and Austria in tenth place and 11th place, while Canada followed behind us in 13th. 

How do they decide which country is happiest? 

The World Happiness Report uses six indicators to determine who is happier than who. They are: 

  1. GDP per capita 
  2. Healthy life expectancy 
  3. Social support 
  4. Freedom to make life choices 
  5. Generosity 
  6. Perception of corruption 

Respondents from each country (apparently, on average, they question 1,000 people from each nation) are asked to rate their lives according to these factors. 

Which countries are the unhappiest in 2023? 

The last few years have sadly brought about much adversity for a number of people. Whether it has been the pandemic or conflict, there have been a number of countries who have disproportionately suffered across the world since 2020. Afghanistan is 2023’s least happy country, followed by Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Malawi, Comoros and Tanzania.

The top 20 happiest countries in the world in 2023 are: 

1. Finland 
2. Denmark 
3. Iceland 
4. Israel 
5. Netherlands 
6. Sweden 
7. Norway 
8. Switzerland 
9. Luxembourg 
10. New Zealand 
11. Austria 
12. Australia
13. Canada 
14. Ireland 
16. Germany 
17. Belgium 
18. Czechia 
19. United Kingdom 
20. Lithuania 

You can see the full 2023 list right here.

ICYMI: a rugged Australian island was just named the third most beautiful and remote place on Earth.

Plus: two Victorian towns have been named among the top travel destinations in Australia.

Guess what? Melbourne Airport has just been ranked among the top 20 airports in the world.

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