Finland world's happiest

If cold weather and a lack of sunlight in winter are enough to get you down, chances are you're not Finnish.

The World Happiness Report published Wednesday put Finland at the top among 156 countries ranked by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.

Finland has emerged as the happiest place to live even though little sun and low temperatures are often blamed for high rates of depression.

"Well, our politics and our economics . I think the basics are quite good in Finland," said Sofia Holm, 24-year-old resident of Helsinki, the Nordic country's capital. "So, yes, we have the perfect circumstances to have a happy life here in Finland."

And that's not forgetting other plentiful attractions like skiing and saunas and, for children of all ages, Santa Claus.

"It's a great thing to live in the happiest country although it's snowing and we are walking in this wet snow," said Helsinki resident Inari Lepisto, 28. "Yes, we have many things that make me happy."

This year, the annual report published by the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network also evaluated 117 countries by the happiness and well-being of their immigrants.

In 2015, more than a million migrants entered Europe, and a few thousand made it to Finland, a relatively homogenous country with about 300,000 foreigners and residents with foreign roots, out of its 5.5 million people.

Finland's largest immigrant groups come from other European nations, but there also are communities from Afghanistan, China, Iraq and Somalia.

John Helliwell, a co-editor of the World Happiness Report and professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia, noted that all the countries in the Top 10 scored highest both in overall happiness and regarding the happiness of immigrants. He said a society's happiness seems contagious.

"The most striking finding of the report is the remarkable consistency between the happiness of immigrants and the locally born," Helliwell said. "Those who move to happier countries gain, while those who move to less happy countries lose."

Europe's Nordic nations, none particularly diverse, have dominated the index since it first was produced in 2012. In reaching No. 1, Finland nudged neighbouring Norway into second place.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia. The United States fell to 18th place from 14th last year.

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