Direct Link to Latest News


Poor Nations are Happiest

January 12, 2013

panamapoor.jpeg(left, Panamanian woman waves. Panama ranked world's happiest country.)

According to scientists, people in poor countries can find joy in the moral satisfaction that often is not available to citizens of the developed countries.

by Sergei Vasilenkov
(edited/abridged by

Citizens of poor countries are the happiest in the world.

Gallup discovered that citizens of the poorest countries were the happiest. The list of the happiest countries was topped by El Salvador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Trinidad and Tobago. What is the secret of Hispanic happiness?

People were asked five questions, all about the ways they spent the previous day. They were asked whether they felt joy, whether they felt rested, and how often they laughed and smiled. In addition, the researchers asked whether their interviewees felt respected by their peers, as well as whether they learned something new the day before.

According to Gallup, the happiest people were the citizens of El Salvador, Panama and Paraguay. The top ten included 7 countries in Latin America - in addition to the above, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Russia, however, did not even make it to the top one hundred of the happiest countries, occupying one of the lowest spots (along with Iran and Algeria).

The US came 33rd, tied with Chile, China, Sweden and Swaziland. Canada, Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark, meanwhile, all cracked the top 20.


First place was occupied by a small equatorial country in Latin America - Panama, whose population is only 3.4 million people (according to 2010 census).

Panama's mortality rate is among the lowest in the world-196th. Panamanian men live on average 74 years, women - 80. In Panama, the vast majority of the population lives in urban areas - 73 percent. According to UN statistics, the per capita GDP in 2009 was nearly 12 thousand dollars.

The level of health care in the country is also high. Hospitals and clinics boast state of the art equipment and doctors are highly skilled. Incidentally, nearly all of Panama's qualified doctors have been trained in the U.S. The cost of health insurance in the country does not exceed $800 dollars, and the price of medical services is two times lower than in the United States.  

 The country's favorable climate plays a significant role. The temperatures remain virtually unchanged all year round at the level of 25-28C degrees in the afternoon.

Despite the fact that El Salvador and Paraguay took second and third places in the Gallup ranking, experts still say that the standard of living in these countries is low. The urban population in these countries is under 60 percent, and the economy is based on agriculture. The unemployment rate in these countries is somewhat higher, but it is easier to find a job here than in Panama - mainly in logging, and cotton and sugar cane plantations.

Average life expectancy in other Latin American countries, however, is the same as in Panama - 73 years for men and 79 for women. However, the level of health care in these less developed countries is poor. For example, this year, Paraguayan doctors sounded the alarm as the country faced an epidemic of yellow fever. 


If the standard of living in Panama is comparable to that of developed European countries, residents of such countries as El Salvador, Uruguay, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago cannot boast similar conditions. Scientists explain their happiness by historically formed mentality of these people who see happiness in things other than material goods. According to them, people in poor countries can find joy in the moral satisfaction that often is not available to citizens of the developed countries.

Some of the world's media cited an example of two attitudes - a successful and wealthy businessman from Singapore and a poor woman who sells tea in the streets of Paraguay.

 "We keep working and don't get paid enough," complained the 33-year Singaporean Richard Lowe.

"Wealth does not bring happiness, but only problems. Life is too short, and there is no place for sadness," said Maria Solis of Paraguay.

Singapore, Iraq and Armenia closed the list of the happiest countries in the world. It may be true that it is not the standard of living in a particular country, but the attitude of the citizens that matters.


Thanks to Tony Blizzard for sending this.

First Comment from Tony:

I can't vouch for the absolute accuracy of the below article from but the trend is interesting.  I may have been mislead in my belief that the actually poorest countries in the world would be in Central Africa.  Or Southern Asia.

Observation seems to bear out that the unhappiness of the "Western" totally materialist rat race, often considered Jewish in concept, compares unfavorably to "third world" apparent general satisfaction in having enough to get by, with real priorities geared toward more worthwhile priorities such as family and religion.   Are not the named "happiest" nations basically Catholic?

These small nations are obviously not caught up in any foolish, prideful, competition to be considered top dog on the world totem pole in any category and thus would be much more "laid back" than "developed" nations.  Too, unlike the Protestantism of most of the "developed" world, Catholicism does not imply that enjoying life is a deadly sin.  Nor does it condone such inhuman "rights" as child murder (abortion) which is the leading cause of death in the United States these days.  How many mothers who have murdered their children in this manner are subconsciously haunted and never really at ease in life by reason of having committed that heinous, criminal sin?

Of course, most of the reasoning here on my part is conjecture so it would be interesting to have the input of anyone on this list who has real knowledge of the general population of any these named nations concerning the accuracy of the report of their happiness.

Comments for "Poor Nations are Happiest"

Siobhan said (January 13, 2013):

The poorest country I've been to, by far, has been India. Traveling there for the first of three times at 25 (young and naive) I was astounded to see how much happier the most dirt poor of Indians were compared to Americans of every socioeconomic status. I'm talking the servants who lived in the alleyways beyond the fences of the wealthy families without running water, toilets, or doors on their tiny stone "houses" who bathed and crapped in public. Oddly, these same servants all had color TV's inside their shacks with what seemed like 100 cable channels which they openly pirated off their employers. Don't get me started on the ills of Bollywood which is clearly importing Western hegemony (romantic "love"). I think what the extremely poor have beyond tradition is that they know their place. They haven't sold their souls for illusions and a hamster wheel. I couldn't help but notice that the wealthier Indians were (i.e. more Westernized) the LESS HAPPY they were. My real education began in India.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at