It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a Scandinavian country is the happiest in the world. (The cozy concept of hygge did originate in the region, after all.)
Finland, despite its freezing-cold winter temps and arctic circle coordinates, was just granted the number one spot on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, released Wednesday. And most interestingly, those aforementioned factors may be the reason for it.
Every year, Scandinavian countries (with some of the coldest, longest, darkest winters on earth) top the report as the happiest places in the world. And it could be due to the fact that a sense of community is more prevalent when it’s frigid outside. In an interview with Time last year,one of the study’s editors, Professor John Helliwell, said, “There is a view which suggests that, historically, communities that lived in harsher weather were brought together by greater mutual support. You see this with farming communities as well, who will get together to pull a barn roof up. They don’t ask about who’s paying what. So the colder climate of the Northern [European] countries might actually make social support easier.”
Finland’s top spot may also be due to the highly subsidized government support for programs like child care and unemployment, and the fact that it is one of the best countries for gender equality.