Would you guess the happiest countries in Africa? Here is a list of the top 10 according to the UN

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To most people, happiness comes with being able to afford the basic necessities of life. This is true, for Africa, a continent whose people are generally known to be happy. The past few years have been most challenging for Africans. First, is the predicted high mortality rate from covid-19. Then the economic recession that followed afterward. These forced many Africans to live below the world poverty line. Despite these, Africans are among the happiest people in the world today. But how do African nations compare with the rest of the world? Let’s find out.

map of Africa
Map of Africa (Photo credit: Twitter/@AishaDaughter)

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The Happiness Report 2022

The world happiness report is a publication of the United Nations. The report evaluates the happiness of people living in over 150 countries. The countries are then ranked from the happiest to the unhappiest depending on their score. The data used in the report is from the Gallup World Poll. The poll asked about 1000 people in each country to assess the present state of their life and assign a value to it.

The respondents were to choose any value between 0 to 10, with 0 meaning very unhappy and 10 meaning very happy. The experiment took place between 2019 to 2021, at the height of the pandemic.  Hence, the theme of this year’s ranking is Covid-19 and its impact on the economy, happiness, and well-being of the people of every nation. 

The report outlines six factors that explain the data from the experiment. These factors are; GDP per Capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption. Looking at the ranking, GDP seems to contribute the most to the happiness of each country. A good economy is a foundation for a healthy life expectancy, generosity, and a positive perception of corruption.

Next is social support which examines the bond between friends and families. Research suggests that people are happier when they form strong social connections. The report shows that a single factor is not responsible for happiness. In essence, happiness is a sum of several factors present in different proportions.

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The Happiest And The Unhappiest Countries In The World

European nations led by Finland took the top 10 spots among the happiest countries in the world. Finland is leading the rest of the world for the fifth consecutive time. Denmark and Iceland are the runner-ups. Switzerland and Netherland are in the fourth and fifth positions. According to the report, Afghanistan is the world’s unhappiest country followed by Lebanon.

 Other than these two Asian countries, African nations dominate the lower rung of the happiness ranks. But, there are exceptions that made it to the top of the ranking. Here is a list of the top 10 happiest countries according to the report. 

#10. Mozambique – (Position – 101)

Happiest countries in Africa
The Island of Mozambique, a Unesco world heritage site (Photo credit: Club of Mozambique)

The Southern African country of Mozambique is the 10th happiest African nation. It is also the only African country on this list that isn’t among the first 100 happiest countries. Mozambique is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in Africa. Agriculture remains the highest source of income for most Mozambicans. The tourism sector looks promising, especially with Mozambique’s vast coastlines and islands

These sectors were much affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time in three decades, the country’s GDP fell by 1.2%. However, with the LNG project on track, Mozambique’s economy could recover faster. We are likely to see Mozambique rise in the ranks of the world’s happiest countries.

#9. Morocco (Position – 100)

Happiest countries in Africa
Morocco’s Blue City, Chefchaouen (Photo credit: Moon)

If you consider visiting Africa, Morocco is definitely a place you should see. Morocco has some of the oldest architectures in Africa that are still functional. The unique designs of these buildings and the eye-catching landscape make Morocco a tourist hotspot. The country enjoys a fairly stable political atmosphere which speaks volumes.

Travel restrictions at the height of the Covid pandemic forced the economy of Morocco to contract. The government shut down its tourism sector to contain the spread of the virus. Experts predict an accelerated economic recovery post-covid with an estimated growth of 3.2% in GDP this year

 

#8. Congo Brazzaville (Position – 99)

Happiest countries in the world
The Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Congo (Photo credit: Tripadvisor)

Armed conflicts are a recurring theme in several provinces of the Republic of Congo. Despite this, the people of Congo are among the happiest in the world. Congo Brazzaville is the second-largest country in Africa by area and the 11th in the world. But the country has more than landmass going for it. Congo is rich in minerals like gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin.

These are used for electronics like mobile phones and laptops. Yet, about 73% of Congolese (equivalent to 60 million people) live below the international poverty line. These statistics will only worsen with the economic setbacks caused by the pandemic. 

#7. Liberia (Position – 97)

Africa
CeCe Beach, Monrovia, Liberia (Photo credit: Tripadvisor)

The “Land of the Free”, Liberia is the 7th happiest country in Africa and the 97th in the world. It is one of the least developed African countries with a GDP of 2.95 Billion dollars. Economically, Liberia’s rich natural resource makes up most of its GDP. But the sector isn’t well regulated. On the positive side, Liberia’s economy is growing gradually, after contracting by 3.1% in 2020. Liberia moved from the 120th happiest country in 2021 to the 97th position in 2022.

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#6. Algeria (Position – 96)

Africa
Bejaia Beach, Algeria (Photo credit: Expedia)

Africa’s largest nation (by landmass) Algeria is the 6th happiest country in Africa. Algeria didn’t make the top 100 in last year’s global happiness ranking. But in the space of one year, things have changed as the impact of Covid-19 dies down. Algeria is 13 points up from 109th   to the 96th happiest country in the world. Its economy was one of the hardest hit. Algeria’s GDP plummeted as oil prices dipped during the pandemic. But with oil prices stabilizing, Algeria’s economy will recover, and experts predict between 2 to 3 percent growth in real GDP.

#5. The Gambia (Position – 93)

Africa - Happiest countries in Africa
Mandina Lodges, The Gambia (Photo credit: The Gambia Experience)

The Gambia is a small West African country with a population of about 2.1 million inhabitants. It is one of the poorest nations in the world and the smallest country in Africa (mainland). Before the Covid pandemic, the Gambia’s economy was fairly robust but later contracted by 2.4% in 2020. The pandemic had a great impact on the tourism and trade sectors which contribute a fair amount to the country’s GDP. A recovering economy amidst electoral pressures has pushed the Gambia from 98 to 93 in the global happiness ranking.

#4. South Africa (Position – 91)

Africa
Garden Route National Park, South Africa (Photo credit: Planetware)

This year, South Africa made it to the top 100 happiest countries in the world. The third-largest economy in Africa went from the 103rd position to becoming the 91st happiest country in Africa. At the heights of the Covid pandemic, South Africa saw its economy decline, like any other country. But the crisis leveraged other lingering issues, especially the high unemployment rate. This has slowed down South Africa’s economic recovery which was predicted to grow by about 4.8 % in 2021 and 2.1% in 2022

#3. Ivory Coast (Position – 88)

Happiest countries in Africa
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast (Photo credit: Dream Africa)

Despite coming third place, Ivory Coast dropped from its previous rank on the world happiness ranking. Ivory Coast has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, most of which depends on agriculture. The agricultural sector is the highest employer of labor in the country. It is also one of the greatest sources of wealth for the country. This agriculture-based economy crumbled during the COVID pandemic. As a result, the real GDP fell from 6.2% in 2019 to 1.8% in 2020. But recovery is fast and at the moment, Ivory Coast is back to being one of the most thriving economies in West Africa. 

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#2. Libya (Position – 86)

Happiest countries in Africa
Mandara lakes in the dunes of Ubari, Libya (Photo credit: Libya Adventures)

2020 might have been the pandemic year, but there was a glimpse of hope for Libya. After almost a decade-long conflict, a ceasefire agreement was finally reached in October 2020. But the oil-rich economy had fallen considerably following the drop in oil prices at the time. Towards the end of 2021, Libya’s economy made a bullish swing. This upwards trend will continue if the current ceasefire remains and oil prices continue to soar. 

#1. Mauritius (Position – 52)

Mauritius
Le Morne Beach, Mauritius (Photo credit: Tripadvisor)

Mauritius is leading the African continent in more than just the happiness Index. It is one of the most developed economies in Africa. In 2020, Mauritius became a high-income economy, one of a few in Africa. It is the only African country with a high human development index, and the most peaceful African country according to the Global Peace Index. The tourism and hospitality sector accounts for a large part of the country’s GDP. These sectors were affected by Covid-19 resulting in a 15% drop in GDP. Still, recovery is swift and experts project a 7.1% growth in GDP over the next two years. 

 

Conclusion

For the most part, the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, and many countries are returning back to life as usual. It is true that the African continent faced a crueler fate during the pandemic. Most African countries are still licking their wounds, regardless, Africans are generally dogged. The pandemic might have brought untold hardship but this had little effect on the happiness of the African people. Compared to last year’s ranking, many African nations have climbed up the happiness index this year. We look forward to seeing more African countries move up the list of the happiest countries of the world come 2023.

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