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In May 2016, the United Nations released its annual World Happiness Report, which ranks more than 150 countries according to their quality of life.
Perhaps surprisingly, the tiny nordic country of Iceland ranked higher than nearly every nation on this list, despite its isolation, extreme weather and long, dark winters.
So, what is life like in Iceland, and why are the Icelandic people so happy?
Well, in just about every sense, Iceland is small. At just under 40 thousand square miles, the entire country could fit inside the US state of Kentucky.
Iceland's population of over 300 thousand is extremely homogeneous, with nearly 95 percent ethnic Icelandic.
About two thirds of its people live in or around the capital, Reykjavik, which ranks as one of the safest, cleanest, and most eco-friendly cities in the world.
And Reykjavik is not too different from the rest of Iceland, as the country runs almost completely on renewable, geothermal energy, and boasts extremely low crime rates.
In fact, it has one of the lowest per-capita murder rates in the world, with one for every 100 thousand people.
As a result, police and security have little presence, and even the country's larger cities function more like small towns.
Icelandic people have high levels of collective trust, and, as such, are known to keep valuables in plain sight and send their young children to school by themselves.
This cooperative mentality is reinforced by Iceland's government infrastructure.
The country is a parliamentary republic, and maintains a generous social welfare system that provides free education through college, as well as health care and nine months of paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers.
As a result, most Icelanders are healthy, well-educated and employed.
The unemployment rate is just five percent, and the average citizen lives about 83 years, which is 12 years longer than the global average.
This can also be attributed to Icelanders' healthy lifestyles.
A typical Icelandic meal is a smörgåsbord of organic produce, yogurt and local fish, and the most popular leisure activities are ice climbing, kayaking and going to the gym.
Another national pastime is reading and writing.
Iceland publishes more books per capita and translates more international literature than any other nation in the world.
And, studies show that roughly one in ten Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime.
But perhaps the best symbol of Iceland's ubiquitous health, happiness and unity, are its huge heated public pools, also called 'sundlaugar.'
These pools are widely regarded as a kind of civil right, and families, teenagers and seniors are known to lounge in them in near nudity every day.
'Sundlaugar' are not only lauded for their health benefits, but also their ability to unite the community and build public trust.
Experts say Iceland's strong sense of community has solidified its so-called "happiness maintenance," which is a consistently high happiness rate even when the country is in crisis.
For example, after the 2007 global recession decimated the country's economy, some Icelanders actually reported greater happiness.
Experts say this is because those who lost their jobs tended not to feel isolated, as Icelanders can count on their friends, family and government for support.
With a healthy, educated populace and a strong safety net, life in Iceland doesn't look too bad.
Iceland isn't the only happy-go-lucky Nordic country, the rest of them are pretty well off with a high standard of living.
But are they powerful politically or economically?
Find out by watching this video!
But unlike similarly large nations, the nordic countries have some of the lowest population density in the world with only 26 million total residence.
This is mostly because half of their land is uninhabited Arctic thanks to Greenland.
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What Is Life Really Like In Iceland?

66906 Folder Collection
BH published on March 11, 2018    歆茹 translated    Kiara reviewed
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