The world's happiest countries do this a lot. Photo: TF-Images/Getty Images

It's hardly surprising that Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland top the UN's latest World Happiness report. Nordic countries always dominate such lists.

But, but, but: Some countries became much happier, and others much less happy, over the past decade. Overall, happiness increased between 2008 and 2018 in 78 of the 132 countries in the rankings (based on "how happy citizens perceive themselves to be").

  • Benin, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Latvia and Togo saw the most dramatic rises.
  • Venezuela, Syria, Botswana, India and Yemen saw happiness fall sharply.
  • The U.S. was among the countries that became less happy. It's now 19th on the happiness list, down from 13 five years earlier.

Go deeper: The global cycle of violence, hunger and migration

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Why it matters: If the proposals become reality, Chinese cash, telecom infrastructure, railways and ports could offer new life to Iran’s sanctions-choked economy — or, critics fear, leave it inescapably beholden to Beijing.

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Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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