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?