Once described as the happiest set of people in the world in 2003 according to a report by World Values Survey in spite of long-standing problems, Nigerians are now ranked sixth happiest people in Africa and occupy a lowly 95th position in the world, a UN report out Monday found.
North African country Algeria leads the pack in Africa, followed by Mauritius. Crisis-ridden Libya came third ahead of another North African country Morrocco. Sudan, also going through its own crisis was ranked fifth.
Norway, now the happiest country in the world, surged from 4th place in last year’s assessment all the way to the top spot, even though oil prices are down, the World Happiness Report 2017 said.
The top four also included Nordic neighbours Denmark and Iceland as well as Switzerland.
“All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance,” the summary explained.
Rounding out the top ten were Finland (5th), the Netherlands (6), Canada (7), New Zealand (8), and Australia and Sweden tied for 9th.
The entire top ten were wealthier developed nations. Yet money is not the only ingredient in the recipe for happiness, the report said.
In fact, among the wealthier countries, the differences in happiness levels had a lot to do with “differences in mental health, physical health and personal relationships: the biggest single source of misery is mental illness,” the report said.
“Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even their mental illness is a major source of misery,” it added.
Another major country, China, has made major economic strides in recent years. But its people are not happier than 25 years ago, it found.
The United States meanwhile slipped to the number 14 spot due to less social support and greater corruption; those very factors play into why Nordic countries fare better on this scale of smiles.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg welcomed the report as “a nice validation on a Monday morning.
“For many years, Norway has been behind Denmark in this ranking.
“I’ve made a point of it in many dinner speeches in the Nordics. Now I must find something new!,” she said in a message on Facebook in Norwegian.