LONDON (AFP) - The tiny South Pacific Ocean archipelago of Vanuatu is the happiest country on Earth, according to a study published measuring people's wellbeing and their impact on the environment.
Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama complete the top five in the Happy Planet Index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF).
The index combines life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint -- the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption.
Zimbabwe came bottom of the 178 countries ranked, below second-worst performer Swaziland, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo
The Group of Eight industrial powers meet in Saint Petersburg this weekend but have not much to smile about, according to the index.
Italy came out best in 66th place, ahead of Germany (81), Japan (95), Britain (108), Canada (111), France (129), the United States (150) and Russia, in lowly 172nd place.
Andrew Simms, NEF's policy director, said the index "addresses the relative success or failure of countries in giving their citizens a good life while respecting the environmental resource limits on which all our lives depend."
Nic Marks, the head of NEF's centre for wellbeing, added: "It is clear that no single nation listed in the Happy Planet Index has got everything right.
"But the index does reveal patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all, whilst living within our environmental means," he said, according to British daily The Guardian.
"The challenge is: can we learn the lessons and apply them?"
Island nations performed particularly well in the rankings. But Vanuatu, with a population of around 200,000, topped them all.
"Don't tell too many people, please," said Marke Lowen of Vanuatu Online, the republic's online newspaper.
"People are generally happy here because they are very satisfied with very little," he told The Guardian.
"This is not a consumer-driven society. Life here is about community and family and goodwill to other people. It's a place where you don't worry too much."
"The only things we fear are cyclones or earthquakes."
Selected others: 17. Philippines; 23. Indonesia; 31. China; 32. Thailand; 44. Malaysia; 62. India; 64. Iceland; 70. Netherlands; 87. Spain; 88. Hong Kong; 89. Saudi Arabia; 99. Denmark; 112. Pakistan; 115. Norway; 119. Sweden; 123. Finland; 139. Australia; 154. UAE; 156. South Africa; 159. Kuwait; 166. Qatar.
Of course, when you check out some of their stats :
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/nh.html, you see taht there really isn't much to be upset about NOR much to get all 'commercey' about either!