Have you ever been to a country that measures its success with Gross National Happiness? Then, a visit to the tiny yet mystical Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan should be on your list. Tucked away between India and China, Bhutan is now fondly called as the “Switzerland of Asia” in the sub-continent. Curiously enough, the picturesque country was closed to tourists until 1974. But once the doors were opened, visitors simply couldn't get enough of its mountains, lakes, and legendary ancient temples and fortresses.
Apart from its breathtaking landscapes, the tiny, spiritual kingdom stands apart from others because it offers free healthcare and education to its citizens. This isn’t all! In Bhutan, there is no smoking allowed and you won’t find any traffic lights either. The government has also ensured that there aren’t any homeless people in the kingdom. No wonder people who live in the country are so happy.
Related Article: The Top 10 Places to Visit in Bhutan
Imagine living in a country where public transport is free for all! Yes, Luxembourg in Europe has the world’s only free nationwide public transport system. With a population under 600,000, the small country abolished fares for trams, trains, and buses in February 2020, as the authorities felt that traffic jams were becoming a real menace. Moreover, the government also offers high salaries and a strong social security system to enable its citizens to lead a comfortable and happy life post-retirement.
Luxembourg also has a great healthcare system and an amazing work-life balance. This is helped courtesy the mandatory five weeks of vacation time in the country.
Finland has ranked #1 in the UN’s 2020 World Happiness Report and it really isn’t a surprise. The European country might not have favorable weather conditions always, but it surely is a happy haven for its residents. For starters, Finland is ranked among the top education systems in the world. Furthermore, it offers comprehensive welfare benefits to its people which has eventually lead to low levels of corruption and an increased sense of freedom and confidence in the general public.
Finland is also famous for pushing to adopt the flat working model – where there are few (sometimes even zero) hierarchal levels between management and staff. This has resulted in great workplace productivity and a healthy working environment for all.
Denmark has consistently ranked at the top of countless international surveys on the happiest places to live in the world. There are many reasons for this: tuition-free access, high-quality education, and no-fee public health care certainly helps. Denmark is also a place bikers would love as Copenhagen is regarded as one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities. Social equality and community spirit are high in the country apart from having a strong sense of common responsibility for social welfare.
Another interesting fact about Denmark is that people here pay some of the world's highest taxes - up to half of their income. It is also a country immensely committed to renewable energy production.
A study from the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute states that Denmark’s happiness is based on trust in the government, economic security, freedom, civil participation, and work-life balance. Do you need any more reasons to visit this happy place?
Switzerland is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. With lakes, forests, mountains, and clean air, the European country attracts tourists from all over the world who seek to find peace and tranquility.
Its natural beauty is not the only thing that makes Switzerland unique, though. The country has a system of direct democracy, meaning that Swiss citizens feel an exceptional sense of participation in their country’s development. From momentous decisions to basic ones, citizens are made to feel a part of the country’s progress which instills a genuine sense of contentment in them. A thriving economy, incredible life expectancy, and significant tax breaks only make things better. If not for anything else, you can find happiness in Switzerland courtesy their delightful and incomparable chocolates.
Do you hate being bothered by pesky mosquitoes while trying to sleep every night? Then perhaps you might consider relocating to Iceland – a place where no mosquitoes exist. The country has no such lakes in which the mosquitoes can breed and thus you can enjoy peaceful nights here. This apart, Iceland takes care of its citizens with low taxes, free health care, and great and accessible education. In fact, one in ten Icelanders has published a book! In 2018, Iceland also became the first country in the world to enforce equal pay for women and men.
If these reasons aren’t enough, Iceland’s unique and fantasy-like natural landscapes is sure to delight your heart. In fact, the countryside here often appears to be a part of some other mystical planet.
The Dutch are known to be relaxed and welcoming and this is the reason that the Netherlands always ranks high when it comes to the happiest countries in the world. The pace of life here and the general sense of freedom among the populace helps in making the Netherlands a happy place.
The Netherlands offers a favorable living environment with a remarkable quality of life. Furthermore, according to the OECD Better Life Index, it is the country with the best work-life balance. As if these aren’t enough, a 2013 UNICEF report rated Dutch children the happiest in the world, based on educational well-being, safety, and health.
The beautiful bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, and canals of Amsterdam only adds to the country’s happiness quotient.
Described as Europe’s most beautiful country, Norway has a lot going for it - mountains, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and fjords. The country also excels in ensuring that the people’s happiness stakes are always high. In fact, historian Finn Erhard Johannessen at the University of Oslo believes Norwegians are the happiest because the standard of living has been raised to a level where they can allow themselves to relax. Indeed, Norway has a welfare system that takes care of its people by providing them with a safety net. When it comes to income and standard of living, inequality is low, and the society here generally lives in harmony. Little to no corruption, amazing social support, and freedom are added benefits of living here.
Here’s another Nordic country which remains high on the list of happiest countries on earth. Sweden emphasizes work-life balance which leads to a happy and content populace. Other major factors include social equality, that has also been built into the education system here starting in kindergarten, along with 16 months of paid family leave and free daycare. In fact, the paid family leave can be split between a couple after they have a new child.
The Swedish are considered to be amiable and helpful. The crime rate is very low in the country which is also known for excellent social support and a high life expectancy.
10. New Zealand
New Zealand has been on the news these days for the remarkable way they have managed to contain the coronavirus pandemic. While its beaches, vineyards, and mountains make New Zealand such an attractive and beautiful travel destination, it has also been voted 9th in the UN’s 2020 World Happiness Report.
According to the UN, “people seem most likely to derive happiness from giving experiences that provide a sense of free choice, opportunities for social connection, and a chance to see how the help has made a difference” in New Zealand.
Even if we take this report away, the Kiwis have earned a reputation for being some of the kindest, most hospitable people on the planet. People here are generally satisfied and relaxed (the country’s vast natural wealth certainly helps on that front) and that is the reason New Zealand has been able to maintain its happiness quotient so consistently.
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