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Vanuatu judged the happiest place on the planet

BCFOS -- This tiny, carefree nation of 220,000 in the South Pacific was voted the happiest place on the planet in a global survey conducted by the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth.

To identify the winner of the Happy Planet Index, researchers used three factors. Life expectancy, human well-being and the damage caused by a country’s environmental footprint.

This Melanesian nation of 83 islands and 120 different tribal languages easily qualifies for the top gong. Proud, colourful, cheerful and, above all, untouched by and indifferent to the troubles of the world around them, the ni-Vanuatu, as the islanders are known, enjoy a way of life that has barely changed for 4,000 years.

The British in their tropical white suits have come and gone, the French in their cravats have departed, and the Portuguese in their galleons have long since sailed away . . . they’ve all had a go at turning the islands into a far-flung colonial outpost, only to find that native culture is a powerful defence against Western influence.

To understand why Vanuatu as taken this number one spot, we should briefly look at the three factors on which it has been judged the happiest place in the world. First, life expectancy. Despite the islander’s poverty, many live to 90 and beyond.

On a village on the southern island of Tanna, where a remote tribe worship the Duke of Edinburgh as their god (that’s another story) and where many were in their 80s, put their long lives down to roast pork and yams.


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