HELSINKI, Finland - For the sixth year running, Finland was named the world's happiest country in an annual UN-sponsored index Monday that saw acts of kindness grow in Ukraine despite the Russian invasion.
With thousands of lakes and near endless forests, the Nordic country is known for its extensive welfare system, high trust in authorities and low levels of inequality among its 5.5 million inhabitants.
While Ukraine's ranking improved from 98 to 92 this year, despite the Russian invasion, its overall score fell from 5.084 to 5.071, on a scale of zero to 10.
Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an editor of the report, said there had been an "extraordinary rise in fellow feeling across Ukraine" despite what the report called a "magnitude of suffering and damage in Ukraine" since the 2022 invasion.
Last year "benevolence grew sharply in Ukraine but fell in Russia," the report found, referring to acts like helping strangers or making donations.
The report also cited a "much stronger sense of common purpose, benevolence and trust in Ukrainian leadership" than after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Northern Europe once again dominated the top spots -- with Denmark in second place followed by Iceland.
Israel occupied fourth position, up five spots from last year.
While the same countries typically top the list each year, Baltic countries are rising rapidly towards Western European levels, the authors said.
Knocking France off the 20th spot, Lithuania became the only new country in the top 20 with Estonia in at number 31, up from 66 in 2017.
War-scarred Afghanistan, which has occupied the bottom spot on the table since 2020, saw its humanitarian crisis deepen since the Taliban government took power in 2021 following the US-led military pullout.
The World Happiness Report, first published in 2012, is based on people's own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data.
The report considers six key factors: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.
It assigns a happiness score based on an average of data over a three-year period.