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Wed, 13 Nov 2013 11:00:00 GMT | By Christopher Helman, Forbes
Happiest and saddest countries in the world

Are you better off than you were five years ago? Is the world? The Legatum Institute seeks answers with its 2013 Prosperity Index.

map (© Ugurhan Betin/Getty Images)
  • map (© Ugurhan Betin/Getty Images)
  • A view of the harbour in Auckland, New Zealand (© Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
  • A view of central Stockholm, Sweden (© Getty Images)
  • The skyline of booming Calgary, Alberta. (© George Rose/Getty Images)
  • Davos, Switzerland (© Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
  • The harbour in Bergen, Norway. (© Torsten Laursen/Getty Images)
  • Burundi (© Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Afghan travellers including a woman in full burkha journey on a horse cart along a street in Herat on Dec. 30, 2012. (© Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)
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Everywhere you look in this world there are signs of instability, destruction, hopelessness. Syria is in civil war. Libya is in chaos. Egypt remains unsettled after its military coup. Iran is weeks away from weapons-grade uranium. Iraq is racked by chronic sectarian violence. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is cracking down on gay rights. Mozambique is slumping back into civil war. Kenya is reeling from the Nairobi terrorist massacre. China’s air pollution has become debilitating.

And yet, says the London-based Legatum Institute, “despite the tumultuous events of the past five years, global prosperity is actually still on the rise.”

What a relief. So how do they know? The Legatum Institute is a think tank dedicated to figuring out how to make the world a better place. Naturally, before you can fix something you’ve got to analyze and quantify it. For five years now Legatum has attempted to do just that with something it calls the Prosperity Index. To build the index Legatum’s elves incorporate “a mixture of traditional economic indicators alongside measurements of well-being and life satisfaction.” The result is a list of 142 countries, covering 96 per cent of the world population and 99 per cent of global GDP, ranked from most to least prosperous. Click through to see the happiest and saddest countries in the world.

* Legatum scores the world’s countries on entrepreneurship, personal freedom, health, economy, social capital, education, safety & security, and governance.

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