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Photography: Jill Welling

It's official: Australia is one of the happiest countries in the world

The World Happiness Report has put us in the top 20

Maya Skidmore
Written by
Maya Skidmore

The 2023 World Happiness Index has just been released, and this year, Australia came out on (sort of) top. 

Every year, the folks over at the United Nations publish a ‘World Happiness Report’, with each country getting ranked on survey data which asked people from each country about how satisfied they are with their lives over the previous three years, on a scale from 1 to 10. 

2023’s ranking results were drawn from 2020, 2021 and 2022 (all quite grim years, really), 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. They are followed by Denmark in 2nd place, Iceland in 3rd and Israel in 4th. 

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 9th globally. This year, we were (damnit) just beaten by New Zealand and Austria in 10th 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. 

Want something to cheer you up? Did you know that two of the best beaches in Australia are in NSW (and one of them is in Sydney Harbour!) 

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