Colombia is the second happiest country on the planet, according to a survey of happiness, hope and economic optimism conducted by pollster Gallup.
The South American country accumulated 87 points, coming in behind Fiji on 92 points while the Philippines was ranked in third with 84 points.
The other countries that made the top ten out of 55 countries surveyed were: Mexico, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India while Argentina and the Netherlands tied for tenth place.
On the contrary, countries such as Iran, Iraq, Ukraine, Greece and Brazil were among those said to be most unhappy.
The survey reveals that 88 out of 100 Colombians say that they are happy with 46% believing that their situation will improve in 2018 while 26% believe that things will disapprove.
In addition, levels of optimism among Colombians are 6 points higher that their Latin American counterparts, which is 40% and 9 points higher than the global average.
Rumba (dance, party and good times) continues despite Colombia’s sordid past. Most people know the country has been steeped in violence, with 50 years of civil war; as a place where kidnappings by left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries were commonplace; and as the land of cocaine and narcos.
However this is no longer Pablo Escobar’s Colombia. And on the eve of a shaky potential peace deal between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, it seems appropriate to understand how residents have maintained their renowned happiness in the face of unimaginable crime and violence, loss, deaths and economic hardship.
The national love of positivity also manifests itself in the intense patriotism of the population. As a general rule, Colombians like to avoid chatting about any negative aspects of society and politics with foreigners, preferring instead to focus on the cheerier aspects of their surroundings.
Colombians like to avoid chatting about negative aspects of society and politics with foreigners.
Partly this comes from the understandable desire to fight against the bad international reputation the country has sadly gained over the years. But, it also comes from a genuine and deep sense of pride in all that Colombia has to offer. Expect to lose track of the number of times you hear people proudly boasting that the Colombian food, weather, tourist attractions (among others) are the best in the world.
Ask 100 Colombians about happiness and you’ll likely get 100 variations on a similar theme. “Money is nice but it’s not the most important thing,” “In general we are a culture that values what you have,” and “We love people and music” were just some of the responses I got.
You see evidence of this value system every day. It’s in the welcoming spirit Colombians show to the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign tourists. And this goodwill extends to people in their own country as well.