Finland happiest country as South Sudan ranks lowest in global index
Japheth Ogila and AFP
| Mar 21st 2019 | 3 min read
Kenyans are the happiest people in East Africa, this is according to the recent World Happiness study by World Happiness Council.
The council has been mandated by the United Nations to carry out yearly assessment of how citizens feel about the state of affairs in their respective countries.
According to the UN report, covering 2016 to 2018, Kenya is ranked at position 121 out of 156 countries assessed. Uganda comes second at position 136, as Rwanda and Tanzania trail at 153 and 154 respectively.
Ravaged by civil war and epidemic hunger, South Sudanese are the saddest people of all replacing Burundi which initially held position 156. Despite the oil business giving the youngest country in the continent hope; frequent political instability seems to have influenced the results making it the most awful country to live in.
Libyans are the happiest leading other Africans but ranked at position 72 globally. Despite the nagging problem of Boko Haram militia carrying out attacks in its northern frontier, Nigeria comes second in African continent and at position 85. Algeria which is on power transition closes the bracket of the list of top three happy countries in Africa though at position 88 globally.
Kenya, which regarded as East Africa’s economic powerhouse, has climbed three places from position 124 in 2017 to 121 in 2018.
What makes country happy or sad?
Based on the UN study, people’s emotions can be gauged based on six parameters. In the case of this study, they include country’s GDP, social support, health life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, perceptions of corruptions and dystopia-a dictatorial government.
In the Kenya case, an improvement on the rank can be attributed to the increase in the country’s GDP, social support, life expectancy and the freedom to make choices. However, Kenyan respondents equally registered complaints of dictatorial tendencies which has pulled down country’s scores in the global index.
In the case of South Sudan, most respondents observed that the country scored meagerly economically, had less generosity but a lot of dictatorial tendencies.
Finland maintains top
Finland has been ranked as the world's happiest country for the second year running on the report released on Wednesday.
The Nordic nation of 5.5 million people, known for their love of forests, lakes and saunas, topped the study which used survey data asking citizens in 156 countries how happy they perceive themselves to be, as well as measures such as life expectancy, income and social support.
The other Nordic countries, as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Austria also made the top ten.
As well as performing well on all the indicators, the most content countries all tended to have very stable societies, with happiness levels changing comparatively little since 2005.
Despite the political turmoil brought by Brexit, Britain rose four places in the rankings to 15th.
The United States, meanwhile, continued its slide of recent years, dropping one spot to 19th place.
"This year's report provides sobering evidence of how addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the US," said professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report's authors.
The unhappiest nation was South Sudan, where the UN recently said 60 percent of people face food insecurity following a bloody civil war which has claimed the lives of an estimated 400,000 people.
Other conflict-ridden countries, such as Yemen, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic, also featured at the bottom of the table.
Released on the International Day of Happiness on March 20, the report warned that world happiness has declined in recent years, driven by a sustained fall in India, which this year ranked in 140th place.
This has coincided with a rise in negative feelings, "comprising worry, sadness and anger, especially marked in Asia and Africa, and more recently elsewhere," it said.
This year's publication also looked at how countries have performed in the happiness rankings since 2005.
Of the 20 largest gainers, half are in Central and Eastern Europe, five are in sub-Saharan Africa, and three in Latin America.
The five largest declines since 2005 were in Yemen, India, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela.
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