Helsinki, Finland ranked world's happiest city

J. H. Osborne • Mar 24, 2020 at 8:30 PM

If you think Walt Disney World is the happiest place on earth, the people who put together the World Happiness Report would disagree with you.

Their annual report, released Friday, reveals Helsinki, Finland, to be the happiest city on earth.

Rather than relying on a list of factors that researchers consider relevant, the World Happiness Report's ranking relies on city residents' reports of how they evaluate the quality of their lives.

City Living

• About 4.2 billion people, more than half of the world's population (55.3%), are living in urban areas today.

• By 2045, this figure is estimated to increase by 1.5 times, to more than six billion.

• There were 371 cities with more than one million inhabitants in 2000. In 2018, there were 548, and in 2030, a projected 706 cities will have at least one million inhabitants.

• During the same time, the number of so-called mega cities — cities that have more than 10 million inhabitants, most of which are located in the Global South — is expected to increase from 33 to 43, with the fastest growth in Asia and Africa.

• Today, Tokyo (37.4 million), New Delhi (28.5 million), and Shanghai (25.6 million inhabitants) are the most populous cities worldwide.

• Cities are economic powerhouses: more than 80% of worldwide GDP is generated within their boundaries.

• They often outperform their countries in terms of economic growth.

• City dwellers are often younger, more educated and more liberal than their rural counterparts. They are more likely to be in professional and service jobs, and less likely to have kids.

• With urbanization set to increase, by 2050, seven in ten people worldwide will be city dwellers.

The Top Ten in Happiness

1) Helsinki, Finland

2) Aarhus, Denmark

3) Wellington, New Zealand

4) Zurich, Switzerland

5) Copenhagen, Denmark

6) Bergen, Norway

7) Oslo, Norway

8) Tel Aviv, Israel

9) Stockholm, Sweden

10) Brisbane, Australia

The first ranking U.S. city on the list, in 18th place, was Washington, D.C., and Dallas, Texas, ranked 19th.


• The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, powered by data from the Gallup World Poll, and supported by the Ernesto Illy Foundation, illycaffè, Davines Group, Blue Chip Foundation, the William, Jeff, and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation, and Unilever’s largest ice cream brand Wall’s.

• The World Happiness Report was written by a group of independent experts acting in their personal capacities. Any views expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization, agency or program of the United Nations.

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