Friday, August 04, 2006

Happy Planet Index

One more thing in the "how did I miss this?" category, and then I have to get off the computer!

Vanuatu is the happiest place in the world, according to a new index. (I got this information while browsing Porta Vila Today, a Daily Photo blog from Porta Vila, Vanuatu's largest city.)

Here's the full list. This whole site is well worth a visit - it's a fascinating way to measure the success of a country - it uses three factors, ecological footprint, life-satisfaction and life-expectancy. By this measure, no country does fantastically well, but the happiest people are not the ones you'd expect. The United States is in 150th place out of 178!

And this is interesting, if rather idealistic: "Island nations score well above average in the Index: They have higher life satisfaction, higher life expectancy and marginally lower Footprints than other states. Yet incomes (by GDP per capita) are roughly equal to the world average. Even within regions, islands do well. Malta tops the Western world with Cyprus in seventh place (out of 24); the top five HPI nations in Africa are all islands; as well as two of the top four in Asia. Perhaps a more acute awareness of environmental limits has sometimes helped their societies to bond better and to adapt to get more from less. Combined with the enhanced well-being that stems from close contact with nature, the world as a whole stands to learn much from the experience of islands." (From What the Happy Planet Index Reveals.)

The enhanced well-being that stems from close contact with nature? Hmm.

Obviously this organization has some ecological axes to grind. But I have to say it is kind of nice to see Tecwil listed as happier than so many other countries, even if I can't quite believe it's true. If people there are so very happy, it's hard to understand why they are constantly trying to emigrate.

Saddest of all is poor Zimbabwe, in last place.

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