Venezuela Happiest Country in South America

Columbia University's “Earth Institute” has released the results of its first happiness report, which highlight Venezuela as the happiest country in South America and the second happiest country in the region after Costa Rica.

Presented at the United Nation’s “Meeting on Happiness” in April, the study is based on data collected from a series of international “happiness” reports, including a 2011 poll by Gallup which asks citizens to evaluate their life satisfaction on a scale of 1-10.

As well as topping the list of countries in South America, Venezuela's happiness index also fares particularly well in comparison to happiness levels across the globe. Although Venezuela came 19th out of the 156 countries surveyed, all other countries featured in the happiest twenty are found in the developed world, with the exception of Costa Rica. Venezuela also ranked just one place below the United Kingdom, which came 18th in the overall study.

Whilst beating some of its Latin American neighbours, such as Mexico and Brazil, Venezuela also topped many European countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany. US ally Colombia, usually praised as a model of development in Latin America, also ranked surprisingly low in the study, coming in 41st place overall.

The report is consistent with the findings of other polls, including the last Gallup poll in 2011 which placed Venezuela in joint 5th place with Finland in terms of citizen happiness out of 124 countries. Venezuelans also regularly rate themselves as being “happy”, with Latin America’s Latinobarometro reporting in 2010 that 84% of Venezuelans are “satisfied” with their lives and 84% of citizens classifying themselves as “happy” or “very happy” in the latest GISXXI poll from inside the country.

The government has brought big some big social reforms in the country, especially educational reforms.

Currently, over 2 million Venezuelans are in higher education, compared to 600,000 in 1998, making Venezuela the country with the second largest percentage of students in the region. Since the Chávez government came to power, thirteen new universities have been created and over 1,600 university communities have been set up, which enable people to study close to where they live. Furthermore, the Venezuelan Constitution guarantees education as a human right and social duty, with the state being responsible for it.


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