Latin America News 2014: Latin American Countries Among Happiest Places in World, Poll Finds
Gallup's most recent annual happiness poll, which measures the positive emotions of the world broken down by country, found that 9 of the top 10 happiest nations are Latin American.
Paraguay ranked the highest in positive emotions for the third year in a row while Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Ecuador made up the rest of the top five happiest nations in 2013, according to the Positive Experience Index.
"That so many people are reporting positive emotions in Latin America at least partly reflects the cultural tendency in the region to focus on the positives in life," wrote Jon Clinton, the study's author.
For the second time since tying for ninth in 2010, Denmark, the only country not found in Latin America to rank among the top 10 happiest countries, came in a No. 8 in 2013. Coasta Rica, Colombia, Honduras and Venezuela filled out the rest of the top 10 list.
Syria, which is going through a civil war, had the lowest positive emotions score for the second year in a row with a 36 percent positive experience index rating.
"This marks an all-time low for any country Gallup has measured," Clinton said. "Fewer than one in three Syrians reported felling well-rested [31 percent], feeling enjoyment [31 percent], or learning or doing something interesting [25 percent] the day before.
Chad, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia rounded out the list's five least happy nations.
The U.S. shared a positive experience score of 78 with Chile, Argentina, Taiwan, Sweden, Iceland, Dominican Republic and the Netherlands. Just barely making the top 10 cut were El Salvador, Indonesia the Philippines and Thailand.
The Gallup poll, which based its results on a survey of roughly 1,000 adults in 138 countries, found that money doesn't always buy happiness, but it does play a significant role.
"People who make more money tend to report higher positive emotions," Clinton said. "Last year, there was a 10-percentage-point gap globally between the highest and lowest income brackets."
However, in measuring societal progress, well-being is revealed to be a better leading indicator than a country's Gross Domestic Product, the study reported.
"Tracking how people are doing through subjective assessments should obviously not be the only indicator to watch in terms of societal progress, but Gallup's recent findings suggest it cannot be ignored," Clinton said.