World's happiest nations are...

Story highlights

  • Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden are the world's happiest countries
  • Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo are the least satisfied with their lives
  • The United States ranked 17th, while the UK was 22nd of the 156 nations surveyed
  • Egypt had the greatest fall of happiness levels in the past five years, the report said
Those looking for greater happiness and satisfaction in life should head to northern Europe, but steer clear of Egypt and countries worst hit by the eurozone crisis, according to the 2013 World Happiness Report released Monday by Columbia University's Earth Institute.
Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden are the world's happiest countries, according to the survey of 156 countries. Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo -- all nations in Sub-Saharan Africa -- are the least satisfied with their lives, the report said.
The United States came in at number 17 in the world in terms of overall happiness, but it still lags behind Canada (6), Australia (10), Israel (11) the United Arab Emirates (14) and Mexico (16), according to the Earth Institute.
The report ranks the United Kingdom as the 22nd happiest country in the world. Other major nations included Germany (26), Japan (43), Russia (68) and China (93).
Life's ups and downs
The global survey was conducted between 2010 and 2012 and follows the Earth Institute's first rankings released last year. While "the world has become a slightly happier and more generous place over the past five years," economic and political upheavals have resulted in greatly reduced levels of well being for some nations, the report said.
Rankings for Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain fell dramatically because of the impact of the eurozone crisis, while Egypt, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia registered large falls in the wake of recent political and civil turmoil.
Egypt had the greatest fall in happiness levels. On a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 10 rated as happiest -- Egypt averaged 4.3 in 2012, compared to 5.4 in 2007.
"We expect, and find, that these losses are far greater than would follow simply from lower incomes," the report said,