Finland is named as the happiest country in the world for the 5th consecutive year.
Finland is a Nordic country and a member state of the European Union in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, and the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea across Estonia to the south. Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi) with a population of 5.5 million.
Helsinki is the country’s capital and the largest city and forms a larger metropolitan area together with the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen, and Vantaa. Finland is officially bilingual, with Finnish and Swedish being official. The climate varies relative to latitude, from the southern humid continental climate to the northern boreal climate. The land cover is primarily a boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.
Finland is shared between the Arctic, central European, and northern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Finland can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Scandinavian and Russian taiga, Sarmatic mixed forests, and Scandinavian Montane Birch forest and grasslands. Taiga covers most of Finland from the northern regions of southern provinces to the north of Lapland.
On the southwestern coast, south of the Helsinki-Rauma line, forests are characterized by mixed forests, that are more typical in the Baltic region. In the extreme north of Finland, near the tree line and the Arctic Ocean, Montane Birch forests are common. Finland had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 5.08/10, ranking it 109th globally out of 172 countries.
In an annual UN-sponsored index Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the 5th consecutive year.
Afghanistan is ranked as the unhappiest. Lebanon. Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania recorded the biggest boosts in the well-being index.
The largest falls in the World Happiness table, released on Friday, came in Lebanon, Venezuela and Afghanistan. Lebanon, which is facing an economic meltdown, fell to second from last on the index of 146 nations, just below Zimbabwe.
War-traumatised Afghanistan is at the bottom of the table, and its humanitarian crisis deepen since the Taliban took power again last August. UN agency UNICEF estimates one million children under five could die of hunger this winter if not aided.
The Belgian economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve said, “This (index) presents a stark reminder of the material and immaterial damage that war does to its many victims.”
The World Happiness Report, now in its 10th year, is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data. It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data over a three-year period.
This latest edition was completed before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Northern Europeans once again dominated the top spots — with the Danes second behind the Finns, followed by the Icelandic, the Swiss and the Dutch.
The United States rose three places to 16th, one ahead of Britain, while France climbed to 20th, its highest ranking yet. As well as a personal sense of wellbeing, based on Gallup polls in each country, the happiness score takes account of GDP, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption.
This year the authors also used data from social media to compare people’s emotions before and after the Covid-19 pandemic. They found “strong increases in anxiety and sadness” in 18 countries but a fall in feelings of anger.
The American economist, Jeffrey Sachs said, “The lesson of the World Happiness Report over the years is that social support, generosity to one another and honesty in government are crucial for wellbeing.”
The report raised some eyebrows when it first placed Finland at the top of its listings in 2018. Many of the Nordic country’s 5.5 million people describe themselves as taciturn and prone to melancholy and admit to eyeing public displays of joyfulness with suspicion.