The World’s Most Content (and Miserable) Countries

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10. Nagorno-Karabakh
> Positive experience index score: 55 (tied – 8th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 55% (tied – 16th lowest)
> GDP per capita: N/A
> Life expectancy: N/A

An ongoing war between Azerbaijan and those living in Nagorno-Karabakh, who are backed by Armenia, may be one of the main reasons it has such a low positive experience index score. An estimated 30,000 people died in the conflict and millions of people were displaced before the two nations agreed to a truce in 1994. Still, skirmishes between the two nations continue. The residents of Nagorno-Karabakh were among the least likely people surveyed to say they smiled or laughed a lot, or experienced enjoyment, or learned something new within the last day. Currently, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), along with the governments of France and the U.S., are trying to negotiate a permanent peace treaty between the sides involved.

9. Azerbaijan
> Positive experience index score: 55 (tied, 8th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 57% (23rd lowest)
> GDP per capita: $10,789 (67th highest)
> Life expectancy: 70 (tied, 53rd lowest)

One might expect oil-rich nations to have high GDPs. Azerbaijan, however, is one example where this is not the case. Despite being an oil-rich country, Azerbaijan’s estimated GDP per capita was $10,789 last year. The country’s government has been criticized for rigging elections and widespread corruption. In addition, a war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian region, broke out years ago with Armenia backing the region’s people. The conflict claimed tens of thousands of lives as millions were displaced. High percentages of residents stated they did not feel treated with respect or learn something new within the last day.

8. Yemen
> Positive experience index score: 55 (tied, 8th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 55% (tied, 16th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $2,348 (27th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 62 (29th lowest)

Yemen suffers from political instability, threats of terrorist attacks, and a declining economy. Its citizens ranked close to last in nearly every measure of and happiness in Gallup’s survey. Only half of Yemenis said they felt well-rested, and only 55% said they smiled or laughed within the past day. Both figures were among the lowest of all countries surveyed. In the wake of violent mass protests, long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh finally gave up power at the beginning of 2012. However, al-Qaeda has gained a strong footing in the country, and terrorist activities in the country continue. For the past several years, Yemen’s economy has struggled as oil revenues have shrunk. Inflation rate in Yemen was among the highest every year since 2010. Per capita GDP, too, is very low, at an estimated $2,348 last year, which ranked lower than most countries.

7. Belarus
> Positive experience index score: 54 (tied – 4th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 53% (11th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $16,106 (50th highest)
> Life expectancy: 70 (tied – 53rd lowest)

Just 53% of Belarusians surveyed last year reported they felt rested, among the least of all countries reviewed. Similarly, a lower percentage of residents than in most other nations said they smiled or laughed the previous day.The Belarusian economy has struggled with spiking prices in recent years. The country’s inflation rate was 53.2% in 2011 and 59.2% in 2012, the highest in the world in both years. The national economy is largely state-controlled and is dependent on oil and natural gas subsidies from Russia. In addition to to its economic issues, Belarus is also considered Europe’s last dictatorship, and residents do not have the freedom to assemble or freedom of the press.

6. Nepal
> Positive experience index score: 54 (tied, 4th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 55% (tied, 16th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $1,506 (15th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 67 (38th lowest)

A mere half of Nepal residents said they were treated with respect the day before Gallup’s survey, nearly the worst rate among all countries reviewed. And less than one quarter of survey-respondents said they learned something new the day before, worse than in every country except for Georgia and Pakistan. One explanation could be the poor state of the economy. The inflation rate was an estimated 9.9% last year, among the higher rates in the world. GDP was also exceptionally low, at just $1,506 per person last year, among the lowest in the world. Although the country’s Maoist rebellion ended in 2006, Nepal has struggled to create well-functioning, stable political institutions.