Sunday Times

FIND A HAPPY PLACE

- ELIZABETH SLEITH

Despite what it termed a “lamentable year”, the compilers of the World Happiness Report pressed on with their annual mission to rank nations according to their residents’ sense of wellbeing. The 2021 report, released by the UN Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Solutions Network, cut the usual list of 156 down to 149 due to the difficulti­es of collecting data in a pandemic. Still, it has declared the country pictured here the world’s happiest for the fourth year in a row.

Iceland, Denmark, Switzerlan­d and the Netherland­s finish off the top five. In fact, the only non-European country in the top 10 is New Zealand, at No 9.

SA came in at number 103, slightly up from last year, when it placed 109th.

Since it launched in 2012, the report — compiled through telephonic and in-person surveys — looks at people’s perception­s of things like generosity, social support, freedom and corruption. This year, however, it also tackled the impact of Covid-19. Although there were some slight shifts in the list, its general similarity to last year’s was viewed as a positive sign.

Professor John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia in Canada said there had been no notable decline in people’s sense of wellbeing. “One possible explanatio­n is that people see Covid-19 as a common threat … and that this has generated a greater sense of solidarity.” Of the 149 countries, Afghanista­n was ranked the least happy once again, followed by Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Botswana.

The picture here shows a waterfront holiday cottage, known locally as a “mökki”, on the happy country’s Ruissalo island.

To stand a chance of winning R500, tell us the world’s happiest country. E-mail travelquiz@sundaytime­s.co.za before noon on Tuesday March 30. Last week’s winner is Dave Rattan. The correct answer was Cannes.

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PICTURE: 123RF.COM/ IGOR GROSHEV

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