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12. Norway

Norway’s free education, public pensions and universal healthcare contribution to the country’s high levels of wellbeing. (Getty)

These are the happiest countries on Earth

These are the happiest countries in the world, according to the 2016 Happy Planet Index. The report measures how effectively countries’ residents use their resources to achieve long and happy lives. Nations are rated according to four factors - ecological footprint, inequality of incomes, life expectancy and wellbeing. Somewhat surprisingly, Western countries with high GDPs fare badly in the list. No European countries appear in the top ten, the UK comes in at 34th place, and America languishes at number 108. Instead the highest ratings go to countries in Asia-Pacific and the Americas, which achieve high life expectancy and wellbeing with low ecological footprints. High levels of inequality of incomes within a country drag ratings down considerably, as the research found that this has a strongly adverse affect on happiness. This is the top 12.