The 178-nation “Happy Planet Index” lists the South Pacific island of Vanuatu as the happiest nation, while the U.K. is ranked 108th. The index is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness; rather than the usual national economic wealth measurements. Sweden boasts a Ministry for Integration and Gender Equality, an important focus for minorities and women. Luxembourg may have the highest per capita income but Saudi Arabia has the most oil. Diamonds your best friend? Australia’s for you, but South Africa has the most gold and Sri Lanka has lots of gems.
Dream about being alone? The lowest population density is found in Greenland (part of Denmark), the Falkland Islands (UK), Western Sahara and Mongolia. Want to be married? Head to Cyprus, but beware – Aruba has the highest divorce rate! The Economist’s “Big Mac” index of purchasing power indicates you can feel very wealthy in China where the famous cheeseburgers costs less than $1.50, but poor in Iceland where the same burgers costs $7.50.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps the concept of “wealth” is something that varies not only from person to person but country to country. I’m still looking for the most hammocks and sailboats!
More countries (30) have red, white and blue flags than any other color combination. Whether you think Betsy Ross copied the Union Jack or not, it’s curious that our old arch-enemy (the Soviet Union), now Russia, has almost the same flag as France, with color bars in different directions. Although the Dutch love orange (Prince William of Orange successfully fought the Spaniards from 1567-79), their flag is still, you guessed it – red, white and blue, as are the flags of Australia, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic, Iceland, Norway, Czech Republic, Croatia, Laos, Cambodia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Costa Rica, Thailand, Samoa, Chile, Panama, Nepal…and even North Korea and Cuba!
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