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Global 'happiness index' ranks US a lowly 150th ... of 178

In a study released in time for the annual meeting of leaders of the world's largest industrialized democracies (Group of Eight) this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and Friends of the Earth say the happiest people are on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. NEF, a British think tank, arrived at the ranking of 178 nations through a formula that multiplies life expectancy by personal satisfaction level and divides the result by what it calls "ecological footprint" (the space needed to sustain the current rate of consumption and technological development). Of the major economies, Germany placed highest: 81st. Perhaps surprisingly, the raters put the US 28th from the bottom, behind such troubled places as the Palestinian territories, East Timor, and Haiti. The top 10 on the "Happy Planet Index," according to the foundation:

1. Vanuatu
2. Colombia
3. Costa Rica
4. Dominica
5. Panama
6. Cuba
7. Honduras
8. Guatemala
9. El Salvador
10. St. Vincent/the Grenadines

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