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Indonesians are the Happiest People in the World

In a survey conducted by Ipsos, a “global independent market research company”, Indonesia came out on top as the “happiest people in the world”. I don’t place much faith in these kinds of polls, but it is nice to see Indonesia at the top of a table, instead of down the bottom in these kinds of surveys.

If money cannot buy happiness, well this is certainly true in Indonesia, where there is a massive divide between rich and poor. At least next time someone asks why I want to live in Indonesia, I can say that they are the happiest people in the world.


While many people have problems with money, trying just to survive from one day to the next, people will usually greet you with a smile. So what makes Indonesians happy? I don’t know the exact reason, but if I had to come up with some reasons, I would say it comes down to: family, community, tolerance and religion. All of which of course are inter-connected.

Most Indonesians marry at a fairly young age and then don’t waste any time having babies. Often the grand-parents take care of the kids, so the parents can work. There is no government welfare, so there is no choice but for families to take care of each other, even into old age. It is for this reason why couples try to have a lot of kids, so they can provide support later in life, when they become too old to work.

There is a strong sense of community in Indonesia, wherever you go in the country. Around 60 per cent of the population live in villages, where they rely on agriculture for sustenance. The village is an extension of the family in itself, where everyone knows each other. Houses tend to be small, so people spend a great deal of time outside, where it is also cooler. With not a lot of entertainment options, people sit around and do what Indonesians love the most – chatting. Maybe because people are happy to communicate openly, it is easier to solve problems.

Global happy index

With Indonesian people living close together, I believe they are very tolerant of other people. If a neighbor is playing loud music, there is tendency to accept it, rather than openly complain about the noise. If you open a newspaper, of course you will find many examples of intolerance to other people, but I do believe that this is still a small minority.

When I mention religion, I know many people will point out the many conflicts it creates, but the positive aspect that I believe it has, is that it brings people together, which relates back to community.

Please tell me what you think,  what do you think makes Indonesians the happiest people in world?  Or is this survey inaccurate?



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7 Responses to Indonesians are the Happiest People in the World

  1. Herman Suhendro April 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    As a kid we were told by our fathers to be nice to everybody; especially to our guests. Respect to older is a must. As a Javanese (the majority tribe in the country), I was also told to avoid conflicts as much as possible. When people stand in your way, find another way around it. Do not confront other people; avoid sarcasm because it hurts other people’s feeling and try to always use polite words in ANY situation. As a person who had the luxury of travelling to many western countries, and a firm believer of people rights to an opinion no matter how bad it may sound, // even I felt so exhausted every time I finished an “overheated debate/conversations” which I actually enjoyed// We are just not programmed to it. //Of course every individual has their own limit, and when the Indonesian is pushed to their limit; they can be very bad as the other side of the coin is just flipped. Many expats I know of are not aware about this.// In my view, this country with that number of people in it combined with its vast diversity spread around over 13,000 islands; plus such richness of natural sources, should have become the top 5 country on earth today.

    • Mohamed Hassan March 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

      It is in fact 8 richest country as of 2014.

  2. neale April 14, 2014 at 12:40 am #

    Hi Mike
    Up till now everyone fits the happy happy bill 🙂 I will be here for a few days hopefully we can meet up finally. Give me a ring 0812 4993 0420

  3. Bruno August 30, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    Indonesians are great people and I’m not surprised South Korea arrive last, they seems so miserable! Too bad the survey is only for 24 countries, would have been interesting to see more.

  4. Annette Fox August 30, 2014 at 4:42 am #

    I agree with you Mike, if the rest of the world was like the Indonesian people, it would be a beautiful world full of kindness,tolerance,and patience, there would be more civility and respect, may be there would not be all the awful conflict, they may not be wealthy in purse, but wealthy in heart.

  5. John September 1, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Including the Bali bombers?

  6. Colin April 22, 2018 at 12:50 pm #

    Did you ever consider that over-reporting plays a factor in these results? Balinese people are socialized to constantly express their happiness, and are under a lot of pressure from their communities to do so, even though it’s the polar opposite of what they’re feeling on the inside.

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