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Norway named the world's happiest country 2017

March 20, 2017

Norway has claimed the top spot as the happiest country on Earth, unseating Scandinavian neighbor Denmark, the World Happiness Report found. The report also noted that Germans are happier but Americans are feeling blue.

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships | Fans Norwegen
A strong sense of community sets Nordic countries apart from the restImage: picture-alliance/Zuma Press/A. Widak

A new report released Monday has given Norwegians something to celebrate - if they weren't smiling already. The Scandinavian country vaulted three spots to claim the title of world's happiest country according to the latest world Happiness Report released on Monday.

Norway ousted Denmark, which landed in this year's second spot, followed by Iceland and Switzerland.

The top four countries scored high on factors that the report says are key to happiness including: "caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance," the report said.

"What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding of the common good," Meik Wiking, chief executive officer of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen told the Associated Press. Wiking was not part of Monday's global scientific study.

The report's lead author, John Helliwell, noted that they found it takes more than money to make people feel happy.

"It's the human things that matter. If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationship between people, is it worth it?" said Helliwell, who is also an economist at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"The material can stand in the way of the human."

Looking for happiness in 2016

Poverty, conflict-hit countries at bottom

Although a sense of community can help people, some amount of money and security are necessary to feel happy. Most of the countries at the bottom of the list are in desperate poverty.

Central African Republic fell to last on the happiness list, joined by Burundi, Tanzania, Syria and Rwanda.

Yemen, a country hit hard by civil war and with millions risking starvation, was also ranked in the bottom ten.

Red, white and feeling blue

Germany stayed in the same spot as last year - coming in 16th on the list under Ireland but above Belgium.

The latest report shows, however, that people in Germany are steadily rating themselves as happier compared to previous years.

The United States, on the other hand, was 14th on the list ranking, falling down one spot from last year. The report also found that America's happiness score dropped 5 percent over the past decade as people are rating themselves as well happy.

Nicaragua and Latvia's happiness scores increased the most.

The report, which was released to coincide with World Happiness Day, ranks 155 countries. The list has been used by the United Nations since 2012 when Bhutan secured support for a proposal to recognize happiness as a guiding principle for public policies.

rs/rc (AP, dpa)

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