Latin American countries are among the world’s happiest; Lima’s air quality rated the worst in the hemisphere

May 24, 2014

Latin America has the world's highest murder rates, deep poverty and big gaps between rich and poor. But that doesn't seem to be getting in the way of the region's residents having happy feelings.

The region has nine of the top 10 highest among 138 countries surveyed on "positive emotions" in a new survey released on Wednesday by pollster Gallup.

Paraguay tops the world for the third year in a row—with 87% of respondents saying they had experienced a positive emotion the day before, such as laughing or feeling well-rested or being treated with respect. That was followed by Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

Even in Venezuela, where the economy is plagued by shortages and protests against the government have disrupted daily life, 81% of people reported feeling positive.

The only non-Latin American country in the top 10 was Denmark, which consistently scores high in terms of well-being and happiness, researchers have found. The U.S. was tied for 19th place with several countries.

"That so many people are reporting positive emotions in Latin America at least partly reflects the cultural tendency in the region to focus on the positives in life," the pollster said.

Unsurprisingly, war-torn Syria was at the bottom of the table, with just 36% of people saying they either felt well-rested, or had laughed, or been treated with respect the day before. That was the lowest rate of any country in the eight years Gallup has been conducting the survey.

Other countries at the bottom of the list were Chad, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Nepal, Belarus and Yemen.

Not that everything is upbeat in Latin America. The region also scored the second highest, after the Middle East, in negative emotions.

"Latin American societies tend to be very emotional," said Jon Clifton, managing director for Gallup World Poll. "People report laughing a lot, but also a lot of sadness and anger and worry."

One factor that makes Latin America score high on positive emotions is the region's focus on family ties and a network of friends, Mr. Clifton said. But high levels of violence, poverty and other factors create negative emotions, too.

One curious note: This survey was the first to measure Bhutan, the country that invented the Gross National Happiness Index. Curiously, the country scored low on positive emotions, ranked 82nd in the world.

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in each country, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2013. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1%.

Credit: The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com

 

Lima’s air is worst in the Western Hemisphere

Lima air is the most polluted in the Americas.

The World Heatlth Organization (WHO) study warns of pollution dangers in the Peruvian capital of Lima. In the poorest parts of the city the situation is critical, while in San Isidro and Miraflores neighborhoods pollution decreases, moderated by green areas and sea breezes.

According to recent figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO), only 12% of the world’s seven billion people breath consistently clean air. The rest face a myriad of problems caused by the high levels of pollution.

The world’s most polluted cities are New Delhi, Dhaka , Ulan Bator, Beijing, Ankara. In Latin America, Mexico City is the only city besides Lima put in the critical category.

In Ecuador, only Quito of cities with more than 100,000 populatoin was rated below international standards. The population of the rest of the country is counted in the 12% of the world's people with good quality air.

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