Colombia Ranks as Second Happiest Country in the World

Gallup recently released survey results, which concluded that Colombia is tied as the second happiest country in the world with a score of 84, getting beat out only by Paraguay with a score of 89. For the first time in Gallup’s 10-year history of doing this survey the top 10 countries were all in Latin America.

Gallup surveyed 1,000 people in Colombia last year using face-to-face interviews in Spanish. The questions included:

  • Did you feel well rested yesterday?
  • Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?
  • Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?

For the survey, the research firm asked adults in 143 countries in 2014 if they had five positive experiences on the day before the survey. Gallup compiled the “yes” responses from its five questions into a Positive Experience Index score for each country.

The Top 10 Countries for Positive Emotions Worldwide (Happiness)

The following table shows the top 10 countries ranked by Positive Emotions (Happiness) from the survey results:

Happy Country RankingsSo where does the United States rank? Further down the list with a score of 79, which is tied with several countries including Canada, Sweden, Norway and New Zealand.

Why is Colombia So Happy?

There have been a number of global happiness surveys over the past few years and Colombia always seems to rank in the top three and several times has even been ranked number one. So why is Colombia so happy?

After living in Colombia for nearly four years the following is my list of nine reasons (in no particular order) why I think Colombia continues to rank highly in happiness surveys.

  1. Colombians receive an average of 33 paid days off a year – 18 public holidays and an average of 15 paid vacation days. Most Colombian’s take advantage of the many long weekends and travel within the country with family and friends.
  1. Festivals, festivals, and more festivals – there are many of them, Salsa festivals, Flower Fair (Feria de los Flores), the second largest carnival in the world. Every weekend of the year you can normally find at least one city or region in the country celebrating some kind of festival.
  1. A rapidly growing economy – from nearly a failed state to an emerging global player, Colombia has been experiencing rapid growth over several years that has been faster than the average in Latin America, which has resulted in a rapidly growing middle class.
  1. Music and dance – Colombia is known for its salsa, vallenato and reggaeton, which are the most ubiquitous in clubs, but the country has a rich music and dance culture with many other types including cumbia, merengue and mapale. Colombia is a culturally rich and diverse country, and its music and dance reflect this.
  1. Colombians have been through much over the past 40 years – overcoming drug cartels, paramilitary forces and the murders and kidnappings that accompanied them. Now that violence has decreased dramatically, the economy is growing and tourism is booming, there is much to be happy about.
  1. Strong family culture – Colombians are very family centric, celebrating holidays with large family gatherings, while being able to depend on families when times get rough.
  1. Natural beauty of the country – Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world and it has Caribbean beaches, a Pacific coast with whale watching, mountain ranges, Amazon rainforests and vibrant valleys, rivers and lakes. It is possible to find many breathtaking spots throughout the country.
  1. No seasons to deal with – Colombia is near the equator so the country doesn’t have seasons. You can chose your climate based on your preference. Climate is based on location and elevation. Choices range from Medellín, the city of eternal spring, to Bogotá with a cooler climate to Cartagena with constant Caribbean heat. I am completely spoiled by the climate in Medellín.
  1. Football (soccer) – Colombians rarely miss a chance to socialize over a good soccer match and Colombia had a good showing at the World Cup last year that was amazing to experience in the country. Colombia’s current FIFA ranking is 3.

The bottom line is that a remarkable transformation has happened in Colombia. The future in the country looks bright in many ways and the result is a happy country that you start to experience almost immediately when arriving in the country.

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