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7 reasons why Switzerland is the happiest country in the world


The fourth annual World Happiness Report has been published, and it's good news for the Swiss.

The central European country has dethroned last year's winner Denmark to claim the top spot from 158 countries. The report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), was compiled by leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience and national statistics and is an important part of attempting to make governments view 'progress' in human terms, as well as economic, which is a laudable aim in our book.

The top 10 countries feature five Nordic ones, with Iceland in second place and Denmark, Norway and Canada rounding out the top five. The US languishes back in 15th, with the UK occupying 21st position. At the other end of the scale, Togo, Burundi and Syria occupy the bottom three spots: not hard to understand given their poverty and state of war.

Nonetheless, the chart is not simply a replica of relative wealth and peace: some countries are higher than you'd expect, with others lower, suggesting that some countries have the 'social capital' to be able to deal with any worsening of their situation more effectively than others.

So the question now presents itself: how can the UK up its own national happiness? Here we take a look at the winner and see what lessons we can learn from the Swiss...

They are very rich

Swiss Money

Let's face it - money talks when it comes to happiness. The top 10 are all wealthy countries, with Switzerland often ranked as the wealthiest country in the world. In 2007, its citizens' median income was a staggering $95,824, while it has been ranked as the most competitive and innovative economy in the world, with its proliferation of big companies. So, Britain needs to up its game. The question of how to do that, of course, is open to some pretty hefty economic debate, especially with the election coming up. So perhaps we should just go old school, extend the channel tunnel through to the Swiss bank vaults, and take some direct action. If we can just get Holborn's 11 on the case, we'll be away.

They don't fight

Swiss Army Knife

Wars are bad in two ways. Firstly, there's the whole 'killing' thing and, secondly, there's the massive economic impact. Switzerland have, somehow, managed to keep their noses clean, managing to remain neutral through both World Wars and all major conflicts in recent history. It's easier said than done of course - and sometimes there are unavoidable foes to be fought - but when your major military contribution to the world is a tool that enables you to open every possible type of alcoholic beverage, it's clear where your priorities lie.

Their animals are intrepid explorers

Cow on roof

Did this cow, which climbed on a roof in Bern last year, allow itself to be constrained by the traditional 'limits' of being a cow? No it did not. And it is this sort of free-thinking that is bound to rub off on its human population. The UK has flamboyant animals of itself: only this week, we had a dog driving a tractor onto the motorway in Scotland. Clearly, this behaviour needs to be encouraged from now on.

It has beautiful geography

Swiss Countryside

Not many cows get to enjoy scenery like this. Just look how happy they are. Naturally (literally), we have some stunning geography of our own in the UK. The Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, the Peak District and much more besides; but we don't have anything quite on the scale of the Alps. So let's import some soil (Australia has plenty going spare), chuck it on Ben Nevis and make it bigger than Everest. Go hard or go home, people.

They have great chocolate

Lindt Chocolate

Switzerland is home of some of the finest chocolatiers in the world. Lindt, Toblerone, Cailler and Milka all have their home there - clearly, this is going to make its people very happy. While the UK has a fine heritage in this area, perhaps we've let it slip of late, with Cadbury sold off to Kraft and heinous crimes being committed in its name, such as the change of chocolate in the Creme Egg and the axing of chocolate coins. Never mind the railways, Cadbury's needs to be renationalised immediately. Get this on your manifestos guys, for the nation's sake.

They're not great at sport, but they're fine with that

Roger Federer

Roger thinks Switzerland is smashing

The Swiss don't exactly tear up the world of sport. Of course, they have given the world Roger Federer, Martina Hingis and Stanislas Wawrinka to the world of tennis, but their national football team has had decidedly modest achievements. Yet, this doesn't seem to have hurt their happiness. Perhaps if we all just accepted that we were never going to be brilliant at sport (and, let's face it, the evidence is staring us in the face), then we'd be a lot happier. England out in the Second Round of the World Cup again guys? No problem, we had a good go and had some fun! Well played! Go England!

They Know The Value Of Time


Home of Rolex, and many other famous watch brands, the Swiss know a thing or two about watches and the passing of time. And Albert Einstein literally redefined the entire concept of it. Perhaps as a nation we should make time, for time. Embrace watch-wearing (after all, James Bond is one of the most stylish exponents of the art ever), have a three-day weekend and perhaps a six-hour working day. Now that's a vote-winner, if ever we heard one.

(Images: Getty/Rex/Shutterstock)



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