The country is dark and cold in the winter and has some of the highest taxes in Europe. But that doesn’t get in the way of Finns» overall happiness. Finland ranks 6th in the world in the happiness stakes in a 2006 survey of life satisfaction undertaken by Britain’s University of Leicester (Denmark was 1st, US 23rd; UK 41st; China 82nd; India 125th; Russia 167th; Zimbabwe last). So, why do they score so highly? Because Finland is a small country with greater social cohesion and a stronger sense of national identity. But happiness isn’t the only thing that they top the class in…
Finland has become a champion of civil liberties. Where freedom of expression and freedom of speech are concerned, Finland ranks among the top countries in the world, according to a 2007 report by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organisation. Other top countries include Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands; France was 35th and USA 53rd. In their surveys on the degree of freedom experienced by citizens in various countries, Amnesty International always has Finland appearing near the top list. In a 1998 survey by the United Nations, Finland was rated fifth in the world in terms of quality of life. This survey measured education, income, health and life expectancy. They came first in an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey of European standards of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy in 2003.
In 1999 and 2007, Finnish children were deemed to be the healthiest in Europe along with the Swedes. They are in the top two countries in the economic creativity index and are well ahead of the US in terms of research and development spending as a percentage of GDP. The Finns are fourth in the world for filing successful patents. They easily beat all other countries to the number one position in The Economist’s Environmental Sustainability Index (2004) and top the league in the Corruption Free Index of 2002 by Transparency International. Finland has adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards animal diseases and is the only EU country to have a disease-free status. And, more surprisingly than anything else, Finland has won more Olympic medals per capita than any other nation!
All this has been achieved by a population of only five million people. How far this small nation has come in 90 years!