The World’s Most Content (and Miserable) Countries

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5. Serbia
> Positive experience index score: 54 (tied – 4th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 45% (3rd lowest)
> GDP per capita: $11,085 (65th highest)
> Life expectancy: 74 (49th highest)

The Serbian people have not had a particularly pleasant recent history, starting with the Yugoslav wars in the early 1990s and later the Kosovo War. These bloody armed conflicts were accompanied by war crimes committed by most parties. The Republic of Serbia, its most recent formation, was established in 2006. The country’s political corruption and weak economy likely only added to Serbians’ lack of positivity. Nearly one in four Serbians are unemployed, among the highest unemployment rates of the countries surveyed. Just 45% of Serbian survey respondents said they laughed or smiled in the previous day, and 49% said they felt well-rested — both among the lowest of all of the countries.

4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
> Positive experience index score: 54 (tied – 4th lowest)
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 47% (4th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $8,293 (60th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 76 (33rd highest)

Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered through a violent ethnic conflict in the early and mid-1990s following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Although it has been nearly two decades since the war ended, international peacekeeping forces remain active in the country. Local institutions, including schools, are often segregated along ethnic lines between Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The country is relatively poor by European standards, with a per capita GDP of just $8,293 in 2013, while its unemployment rate was an exceptionally high 27.0% last year. A number of former Yugoslavian nations had similarly high unemployment, including Serbia, Macedonia, and Croatia.

3. Lithuania
> Positive experience index score: 53
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 54% (14th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $22,566 (35th highest)
> Life expectancy: 73 (62nd highest)

Lithuania had a relatively high GDP per capita, at $22,566, in 2013. Despite the seemingly capable economy, Lithuanians were among the unhappiest people in the world. The country has a high suicide rate. It also had among the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Heavy alcohol consumption can exacerbate or, in some cases, even cause depression. Lithuanians were among the least likely to say they have experienced enjoyment in the previous day or to say they smiled or laughed in the preceding 24 hours.

2. Chad
> Positive experience index score: 52
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 37% (the lowest)
> GDP per capita: $2,543 (30th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 49 (3rd lowest)

Chad is one of the poorest countries and most undeveloped nations in the world. According to the World Bank, 47% of Chad’s residents lived in poverty in 2011, with a majority of the poor living in rural areas. As of 2011, life expectancy at birth was an abysmal 49 years in Chad, among the lowest in the world. Less than 2% of the population in Chad, largely a desert country, had access to electricity. A conflict between native Chadians and Muslims in the country continues. Chad ranked close to the bottom in the percentage of its people who said they smiled or laughed in the past day, and in the percentage of people who felt they were treated with respect.

1. Syria
> Positive experience index score: 36
> Pct. smiled or laughed: 41% (2nd lowest)
> GDP per capita: N/A
> Life expectancy: 75 (40th highest)

Syria’s positive experience index score of 36 marks the all-time lowest score for any country Gallup has ever surveyed. Just 36% of Syrians said they felt happy in the last day, the lowest percentage in the world. Syrians were also less likely to feel well-rested than people almost anywhere else in the world. The country is in the middle of a civil war between the nation’s military forces and rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad. The war has taken the lives of more than 160,000 people, according to some sources. The IMF has not gathered data from Syria since 2010, nor does it produce estimates.