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The Alleged ‘Happiest Countries On Earth’ Are Also All White

By Victoria M. Walker

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The United Nations released the “World’s Top 10 Happiest Countries” in its annual World Happiness Report, with European countries, unsurprisingly, dominating the top of the list.

The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. Links between government and happiness, prosocial behavior, and changes in information technology all factored in the U.N.’s report. The top of the list was dominated by Scandinavian countries, with Finland, Denmark, and Norway claiming the top three spots, respectively.

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“It’s no surprise that Austria and Finland are among the top 10 happiest countries in the world,” Gabe Saglie, Travelzoo Senior Editor and Tourism Expert, said in a statement.

Sagile mentioned those countries’ “awe-inspiring landscapes and landmarks” and free healthcare as reasons to visit.

“Create your own happiness by visiting soon — you can expect tourism will be increasing there as this news gains traction worldwide,” Sagile continued.

However, countries with majority-white populations aren’t the only countries to experience growth in tourism in recent years. Nor does it mean that what the report defines as “happiness” tells a complete picture of the state of a country.

According to a Forbes report, the West African country of Togo experienced a year-over-year percentage increase of visitors by nearly 47 percent. And while only 30,000 tourists visited Sierra Leone in 2016, it represented a growth of 126%, according to the ADBG report. Nearly three percent of all jobs on the African continent stem from the tourism industry, which includes hotel chains and safaris, according to the African Development Bank Group.

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They aren’t the only popular destinations, either. The African continent earned $36.2 billion in revenue from 62.9 million international visitors in 2016 compared to just $17.4 million in 1990. By 2030, By 2030, tourism spending in Africa is projected to reach about $261.77 billion, according to the Brookings Institution.

Ghana’s “Year of Return” initiative, for instance, aims to connect African-Americans with their ancestral homelands. The country is home to relevant sites that connect African-Americans in the U.S. to the continent, such as the Door of No Return.

“We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they [Africans in the diaspora] made to the lives of the Americans,” Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo said last September. “And it is important that this symbolic year — 400 years later — we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices.

For the record, the United States ranked at number 19 in the World Happiness Report, after Luxembourg.

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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