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The Happiest Place on Earth

Meet the Happiest Place on Earth — and the Scariest Place

The South Pacific isle of Vanuatu has been voted the happiest place on Earth. Is it a luxurious island paradise of sipping Mai-Tais on the beach, being fanned by tanned studs? Hardly. The blissful residents of Vanuatu have embraced the old Janis Joplin refrain, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," and it's made them delightfully content.

Vanuatuans live without all the things we usually associate with happiness: running water, electricity, a house — most people live in basic thatched huts. But the real key to the smiles seems to be the utter lack of money. With the island providing all of a family's food — coconuts, yam, and manioc and a sea full of fish — and entire leisurely days to gather grub, simplicity has earned them the crown. When money is come by, families don't turn it into a Nintendo Wii — they buy soap powder and kerosene for their lamps.

Vanuatu's underwater Post Office.

Princess Anne visits in 1974.




When asked the true secret of happiness one resident replied immediately, "not having to worry about money." For an unblinkingly honest romp of life near Vanuatu, check out The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maatren Troost. It's an outstanding beach read.

If Vanuatu is the happiest place, where's the scariest? To find out,


A new government report says more murders are committed in India than in any other country in the world. The grim tally stands at 32,719 murder cases registered last year, more than twice that of the US and three times more than Pakistan.

And it's scarier than that — the real crime rate in India is probably higher as many cases go unreported. Though India "wins" the most murders, South Africa actually has the highest murder rate, taking into account population size. South Africa emerges as the scariest place when looking at all crimes — they suffer 65.27 murders per 100,000 people and 115.8 rapes per 100,000 people.

Are crime stats a true measure of a country's security? Could you live a simple island existence? Is getting rid of goods, the key to happiness?


acyl acyl 9 years
I absolutely can believe they are happy living a simple existence. I work part-time, and although I might not get big paychecks, it's enough to get by on AND I have more time to myself. I've decided the extra money isn't worth it. Our American work and spending habits have put us into a souless cycle of work and consumption. When it comes down to it, it's time that's truely valuable. Time to spend w/ friends and family, on hobbies and projects, to just enjoy being alive.
gigill gigill 9 years
That book sounds interesting. I remember the season on Survior where they went to Vanuatu. It was one of my faves.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
The thing about crime stats - at least as much as I understand it, in the States the way crime is counted is a vast understatement. First of all, you have to consider what's actually reported. Then, there is a rule that where there is more than one crime in one incident, the most serious one is the one counted. If a woman is assaulted, kidnapped, raped, brutally tortured, and then murdered, where is she counted? As a homicide. So whenever I hear crime stats, especially for other countries, I wonder how they do things and how bad things really are.
kcwebgirl kcwebgirl 9 years
i couldn't live with out my technology but you could definitely give me a tropical island, fresh food and fish that i can grow and catch myself and i'd be happy. but no way am i living without electricity and running water. it can be eco-friendly but it's a must!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
That Vanuatu sounds like a great place to set up condos.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
If women are going to walk around half naked, maybe I want to go there now.... :evil:
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I would love to live on that island. I've always wanted to walk around half naked and not get arrested for it.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
I want to get that book and take it on the plane! that sounds terrific! :)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
The acquisition of stuff doesn't lead to happiness. There is a great book out called The Progress Paradox that is an interesting discussion of the phenomenon that as Americans' quality of life has increased dramatically, happiness has not increased and has possibly even gone down. I could probably live on that island. People have an amazing capacity to adjust to different living situations.
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