Countries in Northern Europe Ranked as the World’s Happiest Nations

October 31, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. well-being [WEL-BEE-ing] (n.) – the condition of being happy and satisfied
Example: Having good health and a satisfying career can improve one’s well-being.

2. fall [fawl] (v.) – to drop from a higher place
Example: The country’s economic ranking fell from the 58th place to the 60th.

3. unrest [uhn-REST] (n.) – the condition in which citizens of a country express their anger through violent protests
Example: The political unrest in the country has caused violent riots among the citizens.

4. poverty [POV-er-tee] (n.) – the condition of having very little to no access to money and the basic needs
Example: Due to poverty, many people can only eat once or twice a day.

5. societal [suh-SAHY-i-tl] (adj.) – referring to a society’s organization, structure, or function
Example: A country needs societal development to achieve long-term progress.


Read the text below.
The 2013 World Happiness Report revealed that the countries in northern Europe are the happiest nations in the world.

The Columbia University's Earth Institute based the report on a survey of 156 countries conducted from 2010 to 2012. This report comes at a time when more people wish for their government to focus more on the public’s well-being instead of on economic development.

Among the top five happiest countries were Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden respectively. Canada, Finland, Austria, Iceland, and Australia came as the sixth to tenth happiest nations.

Surprisingly, Asian countries such as Israel and the UAE came in the top 15. Some major nations also ranked quite well in the report. The US ranked as the 17th happiest nation, Germany at the 26th place, Japan at the 43rd, Russia at the 68th, and China at the 93rd.

On the other hand, the least happy countries were all from Sub-Saharan Africa, namely Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, Burundi, and Rwanda. Some countries such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia also fell in this year’s ranking.

The ranking of several countries dropped due to the recent economic crisis and political unrest they experienced. Poverty, unemployment, and severe mental illnesses have also caused the drop in rankings for some nations. On another note, some of the countries jumped up the ranking because the level of corruption has decreased.

In order to improve the happiness level of a country, the report suggests that government allot enough budget for health, especially mental illnesses. The report also stressed the importance of balancing societal progress and economic development.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think most of the countries in the top 10 are from Europe?
·         In your opinion, how can this report be of use to the countries?

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, why is improving the citizens well-being important?
·         How else can the people’s well-being be improved?


October 31, 2013