Taiwan ranked as happiest country in East Asia

Taiwan ranked as the happiest country in East Asia and 26th happiest in the world according to World Happiness Report 2018

Taipei skyline.

Taipei skyline. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan has been ranked as the happiest country in East Asia and the 26th happiest in the world in the World Happiness Report 2018.

According to the latest World Happiness Report, released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations, Finland moved up from fifth place last year to the top list, and displaced Norway taking the title of "World's Happiest Country." As for East Asia, Taiwan ranked as the happiest country in the region and the third happiest in all of Asia, behind only Israel (11) and the UAE (20), and besting East Asian rivals Japan (No. 54), South Korea (No. 57), Hong Kong (No. 76), and China (86), maintaining its top spot since 2015.

Taiwan moved up seven spots from No. 33 last year to No. 26 this year, ranking it as the third happiest country in Asia and overtaking Singapore (34) and Thailand (46).

The rankings include a total of 156 countries and are based on gross domestic product per person (GDP) and healthy life expectancy with four factors from global surveys including social support, social freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. In the surveys, people give scores on how much social support they feel they have if something goes wrong, their freedom to make their own life choices, their sense of how corrupt their society is and how generous they are.

Unlike previous years, the report also took into consideration the happiness and well-being of immigrants in 117 countries, with Finland also taking first place and Taiwan finishing 38th.

About 300,000 of Finland's population of 5.5 million are foreigners or residents from abroad. Finland's immigrants mainly come from other European countries, but there are also large numbers of immigrants from Afghanistan, China, Iraq and Somalia.

John Helliwell, a University of British Columbia economist a co-editor of the report, was surprised to see how there seems to be a correlation between the happiness of a country's citizens and that of its immigrants. The happiest countries in the world also have the happiest immigrants in the world," said Helliwell to the Washington Post.

Since the first report was released in 2012, Nordic countries have dominated the top spots. This year, the top ten after Finland included Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. The United States dropped from 14 to 18 this year.

The bottom three in the survey were the African countries of South Sudan (154), Central African Republic (155) and Burundi (156).