The happiest — and most miserable — countries on earth

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National Theatre of Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica. Source: Shutterstock
National Theatre of Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica. Source: Shutterstock

Where you live may have a major impact on how happy you are.

According to Gallup’s 2015 Global Emotions report, released on Thursday, the saddest people in the world often (and not surprisingly) live in countries in turmoil — economic or otherwise. Indeed, the countries with the highest levels of negative experiences among residents (defined as often feeling pain, worry, sadness, stress and/or anger on the previous day) were, in this order: Iraq (which has been No. 1 on this list now for three years), Iran, Cambodia, Liberia, South Sudan, Uganda, Cyprus, Greece, Togo, Bolivia and the Palestinian Territories.

This survey is based on nearly 153,000 interviews with adults in 148 countries last year.

But perhaps more surprisingly is who leads the world in happiness: For the first time since Gallup began doing this survey, all of the top 10 countries that are the happiest in the world (defined as having residents who are well-rested, treated with respect, smiling or laughing a lot, learning something new or doing something interesting or feeling enjoyment often during the previous day) were in Latin America.

Here are the 5 happiest countries on earth:

Encarnacion, Paraguay. Source: Shutterstock
Encarnacion, Paraguay. Source: Shutterstock


With a score of 89 out of 100 for on the positive experience index, Paraguay is the happiest country on earth. The report reveals that the reason Latin America dominates the happiest list “at least partly reflects the cultural tendency in the region to focus on the positives in life.”

Considering this surprising result, it may be worth taking a quick look at our Paraguay Residency & Citizenship reports and associated opportunities. (Paraguay) – Permanent Residency: What Is It Good For?

Street of the Candelaria neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia. Source: Shutterstock
Street of the Candelaria neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia. Source: Shutterstock


Colombia scores the No. 2 spot on this list with a score of 84 out of 100. The authors of the report note that Latin American countries score highly on the happiness scale thanks in part to having a high degree of personal freedom and good social networks.

Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, Ecuador. Source: Shutterstock
Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, Ecuador. Source: Shutterstock


Ecuador — long a staple on “best countries to retire in” lists — now has another perk to recommend it: happy residents. It ties with Colombia (with a score of 84 out of 100) on the positive emotions scale.

The ChiChi Market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Source: Shutterstock
The ChiChi Market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Source: Shutterstock


Guatemala ties with Colombia and Ecuador for the No. 2 spot on this list. Its residents are also among the most emotional (experiencing both a lot of positive and negative emotions in a given day) on earth, with 58% of the residents saying they experienced both positive and negative emotions on the day prior to the survey.

Landscape view of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Source: Shutterstock
Landscape view of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Source: Shutterstock


With a score of 82 out of 100, Honduras ties with Panama and Venezuela for the No. 3 spot on this list. Rounding out the top 10 are Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua.


All thanks for this article goes to gallup for carrying out the poll, and to for writing it, here is the original article here:

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11 thoughts on “The happiest — and most miserable — countries on earth”

  1. Very good article and can confirm the same on residency. I believe, in time, Paraguay will duplicate what’s happening in Uruguay, another country in South America I have visited on several occasions.

    • Thanks for the good feedback! From our research, Uruguay seems like a great place to live. A new report on Residency in Uruguay is under way. Keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks!

  2. Are you nuts? I have liverd in two of these countries, and left. Living behind ten foot walls with broken glass and barbed wire (sometimes electrified) is no way to live. And regularly being accosted and robbed in the streets, and regularly being short changed when buying anything, etc. A friend (local Ecuadorian) gets her purse snatched about annually, and her car broken into also about that frequently. You can keep the Latin culture entirely.

  3. I have been to about half the countries listed and really enjoy them. However, this is a very subjective survey, as is happiness. They should have asked a question at the end “Would you move to Canada or the USA if you had a chance?”

    • Thank you for your comment G. Braun. You make an excellent point that happiness is very subjective. Plus, a large portion of those asked if they would move to the US or Canada would say “Yes!”. We posted this article because many of our readers are looking to do the opposite; leave the EU, Canada, US, Pakistan, India, etc. The survey helps confirm that residency in Paraguay, while not exactly the same as the US or Canada, could be a good alternative for privacy and freedom reasons. Thank you again for your insightful comment!

  4. “Honduras ties with Panama and Venezuela for the No. 3 spot on this list. ”

    venezuela?! Proof you are insane. bring your own toilet paper cause they dont have any. or anything else. GCis one of the most dangerous cities in the world. You are just wrong on so many levels.. and I’m a LA fan!

    • Thank you for your comment Mr. Carey. You do realize the survey was not taken by the Q Wealth Report, right? We are just providing it on our blog for informational purposes. I first experienced a country not having toilet paper in public areas 25 years ago when living on the island of St. Vincent in the East Caribbean. Local people would take it home. So we planned ahead. Traveling and living in other countries reveal similar experiences. It has lead me to the conclusion that the rest of the world is not like the US in toilet paper availability.

  5. All of the above countries have serious crime problems. It is misleading that you never include crime stats on the countries you recommend.

    • Thank you Jim for your comment. Performing due diligence on an area before even considering moving there would certainly be prudent. There are obvious limits on how much research we can do for a person. Individually we all need to do our research, and supplement that with other information available. Statistics on crime can certainly be taken into account as part of a person’s research.

  6. I thank you for posting this article, but I need to mention something also that no one brought up yet. When you are in one of these happy cultures, you may be the outsider and thus treated differently than the local inhabitants are treated by their fellow citizens. This may make you unhappy. Furthermore, these people also have been brought up being happy with the lack of items that would make many Westerners unhappy being without. So as Frederick says, do your due diligence before moving to one of these countries, there may be other countries not on this list where you would be much happier spending your life.

    • Thank you for your comment! Your observations are quite accurate in my experience. My family and I have lived in a Central American country for 12 years now, coming from the affluent Seattle, WA area. It took some getting used to for sure. We have tried to live as much like locals as possible and have made many friends along the way. They have taught us much. What struck me right away is that when you ask a person how they are, often they will respond, “Muy contento.” Content. That is not a word you hear often, if at all, coming from someone living in North America. Perhaps the locals in some of these countries have found the key to happiness in being content with what they have. Maybe we can learn from that.

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