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These are the world’s happiest places… according to Instagram

Where in the world are people happiest? According to the Happy Planet Index, it’s Costa Rica and if the Letgum Prosperity Index is anything to go by, then it’s Norway. Thing is, those measures all use a bunch of complicated numbers beyond the reckoning of most folk. You know what would be a great way of measuring happiness around the world? Smiles.

At least, that’s the logic Instagram-based city guide app Jetpac used in coming up with its list of the world’s happiest countries.

The service processed over 150-million images on Instagram to count and size the smiles on people‚Äôs faces from all the cities in the world. Doing so, it claims, allowed it to come up with a scale that provides a so-called “Smile Score” for every city in every country.

“Smiles on the faces of millions of people in millions of photos are the most direct measure we have of happiness,” it says.

Here’s what its research shows:

As is evident in the heatmap, the happiest countries on the planet are all in South and Central America. In fact the only country outside of that region to take a place in the top 10 is the Philippines.

  1. Brazil 60.5
  2. Nicaragua 59.4
  3. Honduras 53.9
  4. Colombia 49.8
  5. Bolivia 48.1
  6. Costa Rica 47.5
  7. Venezuela 47.0
  8. Philippines 46.0
  9. Guatemala 42.0
  10. Mexico 40.3

The list also bears out the old saying about money not equalling happiness. A number of the countries on upper end of the list are making rapid economic developments but none of the traditional Western powers really feature.

There are a number of things that Jetpac’s study probably wouldn’t be able to account for though, such as the proportion of people in the Instagram photos who are tourists (and therefore more inclined to smile in pictures).

It also can’t take into account cultural differences around when it is and isn’t appropriate to smile. In case you’re wondering though, here are the 10 least “smiley” countries on Instagram.

  1. Hong Kong SAR China 13.3
  2. Estonia 13.0
  3. China 12.5
  4. Bahrain 11.7
  5. Saudi Arabia 11.7
  6. Iran 11.7
  7. Maldives 9.8
  8. Vatican City 9.8
  9. Kuwait 9.7
  10. South Korea 9.2
  11. Japan 4.1

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More
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