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World Happiness Report 2018: See the world's 18 happiest countries

Want to be happy? The Nordic nations seem to have it all figured out.

The cold countries of northern Europe again dominated the annual World Happiness Report, released March 14. Finland ranked as the happiest country in the 2018 report, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.

Published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the rankings are based on people's...

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Want to be happy? The Nordic nations seem to have it all figured out.

The cold countries of northern Europe again dominated the annual World Happiness Report, released March 14. Finland ranked as the happiest country in the 2018 report, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland.

Published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the rankings are based on people's assessments of their well-being in Gallup World Poll surveys. The top nations, the report says, "tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity."

Check out the top 18 of the 156 countries below — and see where the United States turns up.

1. Finland

Move over, Norway — Finland's the happiest country on the globe this year.

"It's a great thing to live in the happiest country although it's snowing and we are walking in this wet snow," said Helsinki resident Inari Lepisto, 28. "Yes, we have many things that make me happy."

The 2018 World Happiness Report also provided immigrant happiness rankings, and Finland was No. 1 there, too.

Above, Finland's flag flies aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives in Nuuk, Greenland, on July 29, 2017.

2. Norway

Norway followed closely behind its neighbor Finland in the 2018 report, after holding the top spot in 2017.

Here, Tanya Tamburaci Weggen, 34, a housewife of Turkish origins, poses at home in Kabelvag, in northern Norway's Lofoten islands within the Arctic Circle, on March 8. "Surfing is pure happiness, to be out in nature," she says. "It's like meditation because I'm so into the moment, you really have to feel the subtleness in the ocean, when you catch the wave. Pure happiness, this feeling that you have when you are one with nature. Life is so much bigger than just to be a mother, a wife, go to work 9-5."

3. Denmark

The five highly ranked Nordic countries "are doing something right in terms of creating good conditions for good lives," said Meik Wiking, CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute.

Above, a creation made of Lego bricks at the Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, on March 6.

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4. Iceland

Iceland is the fourth-happiest Nordic country — and the fourth-happiest in the world.

Wiking attributed their happiness to healthy amounts of personal freedoms and social security that outweigh "some of the highest taxes in the world." Nordic countries "are good at converting wealth into well-being," he said.

Above, Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir poses outside her office in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Jan. 26.

5. Switzerland

Switzerland takes the No. 5 spot overall — and No. 9 for immigrant happiness. Among the top 10 countries, the Netherlands and Switzerland had the biggest gaps between the average happiness of their foreign-born and that of their native-born.

Above, a Swiss flag flutters on March 4 in Crans-Montana above the Rhone valley in the canton of Valais.

7. Canada

Not only does Justin Trudeau have a large following on Twitter, the Canadian prime minister comes from the world's seventh-happiest country, the same position it had in 2017. It's also the first non-European nation to appear on the list.

Canada is the fourth-most accepting country for migrants, the report says. It's also No. 7 for immigrant happiness. Notably, the top 10 countries in the overall happiness list take 10 of the top 11 spots for immigrant happiness.

"The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born," said report co-author John Helliwell, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia. "Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose."

Trudeau is shown in New Delhi on Feb. 22.

6. The Netherlands

The Netherlands placed sixth in 2018, just like last year.

Here people skate on the ice of the frozen Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam on March 2.

8. New Zealand

New Zealand placed eighth in the world happiness rankings for the third year in a row. The country is the second-most accepting of migrants.

So who's this Kiwi? It's Peter Beck, the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, with his "Humanity Star" in Auckland, New Zealand, in November 2017. In January, the company launched the first rocket into orbit from New Zealand — and Beck revealed that he had deployed a secret satellite, the disco-like sphere seen here, which is designed to spin rapidly and reflect the sun's light to Earth. He said he believed it would be the brightest object in the night sky. "The goal is make people look up and realize they are on a rock in a giant universe," he said.

9. Sweden

Sweden swapped spots this year with Australia, which dropped to 10th.

Above, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden participates in a celebration for her name day at the Stockholm Royal Palace on March 12, in Stockholm.

10. Australia

Australia is the 10th-happiest country, and the seventh-most accepting for migrants.

In the joyful moment captured here, a balloon escapes as Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini rides in a garbage can under a balloon canopy over Sydney Harbour as he stands in for the character Parpignol during a test run of the prop for Puccini's "La Boheme" opera in Sydney, Australia, on March 6.

11. Israel

Israel is again the happiest country in the Middle East, according to the World Happiness Report.

Above, Israelis dance as they attend the Purim festival in Tel Aviv on March 2.

12. Austria

Austria rose to No. 12 in this year's rankings, flip-flopping places with Costa Rica, which is No. 13.

Above, debutantes dance at the traditional 62nd Vienna Opera Ball at the State Opera in Vienna on Feb. 8.

13. Costa Rica

This small Central American country again claims the title of happiest country in Latin America.

The high life evaluations reported by Costa Ricans "are partially explained by the existence of a relatively good welfare system in the country,” the report says. “There is no army in Costa Rica since 1949, and the country’s inhabitants have universal access to health care and primary and secondary education, with the government providing many services that ensure the satisfaction of basic needs for most Costa Ricans, independently of their income.”

Here, a Costa Rican waving flags in San Jose celebrates after polling stations closed for the day in the country's general election on Feb. 4.

14. Ireland

Ireland moves up one place on the happiness list in 2018.

Above, flag bearer Seamus O'Connor of Ireland leads in his country's team during the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, on Feb. 9.

15. Germany

Cheers! Germany taps in as the 15th-happiest country in the latest World Happiness Report.

Here, young people celebrate the opening of the 184th Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, Germany, on Sept. 16, 2017.

16. Belgium

The three countries of Benelux are all among the world's happiest in 2018, with the Netherlands in the top 10 and Belgium and Luxembourg appearing back-to-back at Nos. 16 and 17.

Above, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel at European Union headquarters in Brussels on Feb. 23.

17. Luxembourg

Tiny Luxembourg ranks 17th in happiness — just above the vastly larger United States.

Here, Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's prime minister, arrives for an official lunch during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, on Feb. 23.

18. United States

The United States has never made the top 10 in the happiness rankings, and this year it slid from 14th to 18th.

Report co-editor Jeffrey D. Sachs writes that "America’s subjective well-being is being systematically undermined by three interrelated epidemic diseases": obesity, substance abuse and depression.

"The U.S. is in the midst of a complex and worsening public-health crisis, involving epidemics of obesity, opioid addiction, and major depressive disorder that are all remarkable by global standards," writes Sachs, who is the Sustainable Development Solutions Network's director and a professor at Columbia University.

The country is 15th for immigrant happiness.

Above, President Donald Trump smiles during a working session in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 14.