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New Zealand continues to top polls of world's best countries

Jump for joy: We've been named one of the happiest countries on earth.

We're the least corrupt country with some of the best living standards on earth. It's little wonder we're so happy. Some might even say it's like heaven on earth

New Zealand has - once again - been named one of the top countries in the world. We just keep winning.

This time, our wee nation came in eighth out of 155 for its happy-go-lucky people, our cheery attitude putting us ahead of the Australians and Swedish. 

Norway is officially the world's happiest country for 2017. The picture shows Bergen - the country's second-largest city.

So smile, particularly if you've got a good job, are healthy, and have strong personal relationships.

READ MORE:
New Zealand and Denmark deemed the 'least corrupt' countries in the world
New Zealand tops world prosperity index again
New Zealand 14th best country according to 'business experts and informed elites'

The ranking is made in the fifth World Happiness Report, which was released at a United Nations event celebrating the International Day of Happiness.

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The Lucky Country is not quite as lucky as New Zealand, coming in one below us at no. 9.

But what makes us so chirpy? Although Kiwis dream of owning their own home and having less traffic, it's things like life expectancy, having someone to count on and being surrounded by generous people that makes us so happy.

"All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance," the executive summary said.

"All of the other countries in the top ten also have high values in all six of the key variables used to explain happiness differences among countries and through time - income, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on in times of trouble, generosity, freedom and trust, with the latter measured by the absence of corruption in business and government."

New Zealand gets a score of 7.314 out of 10, compared to top-placed Norway's 7.537. Bottom-placed Central African Republic gets just 2.693.

The slight downside is that Kiwis are not quite as happy now as they were between 2005 and 2007. Since then our happiness score has slipped 0.118 points, putting us 85th on the list for change over time.

However, the high happiness rating is just one more example of New Zealand doing well compared to the rest of the world. 

In January, Transparency International rated New Zealand and Denmark as equal least corrupt countries in the world.

In November we topped the Legatum Institute's Prosperity Index - again - out of 149 countries, and a month before that The World Bank ranked us as the best country in which to do business.

Readers of the Telegraph in the UK also voted New Zealand the best country in the world for the fourth year in a row. We only managed 14th best country in a US News & World Report survey earlier this month but that report seems to be an outlier.

Whether our consistent high achievement leaves you feeling a bit smug, or wondering how bad things can be elsewhere, might depend on your personal situation.

Despite ranking happiness by countries, the report said 80 per cent of the variance of happiness happened within countries.

"In richer countries the within-country differences are not mainly explained by income inequality, but by differences in mental health, physical health and personal relationships: the biggest single source of misery is mental illness," the report said.

"Income differences matter more in poorer countries, but even there mental illness is a major source of misery."

Unemployment caused a major fall in happiness, while for the employed quality of work could cause major variations in happiness.

The analysis is based chiefly on individual life evaluations in all the countries covered. It is measured by answers to something called the Cantril ladder question: "Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?"

The top 10 countries:

1. Norway
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Switzerland
5. Netherlands 
7. Canada
8. New Zealand
9. Australia
10. Sweden

The US is 14th, Ireland 15th, Germany 16th, UK 19th, France 31st, Italy 48th, Russia 49th, Japan 51st, China 79th, and India at 122.

War-torn Syria is four from the bottom at 152. Below it are Tanzania, Burundi, and in last place the Central African Republic.

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