When most people think of the Caribbean, they consider warmth all year round, sunny beaches, high mountains and a plethora of other aesthetically appealing natural wonders. To some extent, this description is in line with the very nature of the Caribbean — an area of pristine beauty and a true earthly paradise.
On the other hand, most Caribbean countries are currently suffering because of serious social and economic problems. From seemingly insurmountable debts to high unemployment, crime and political tribalism, it’s sometimes difficult to conceive how Caribbean people could be some of the happiest people in the world. Still even the most burdened countries, including Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana and others show some form of resilience and hope during the tumultuous times.
World Happiness Report
Every year, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network compiles and publishes its World Happiness Report. The report is a comprehensive list of the happiest countries in the world, rated and ranked on a simple numerical system. The current data covers a three-year period from 2010 to 2012.
The report is based on a number of qualitative and quantitative factors including the economy, crime, general outlook, etc. More specifically, the report looks at what it found to be six key variables: “real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption and generosity.” The report, which was published this year for the second time, comes after last year’s Gallup World Survey.
Trinidad Tops the Caribbean
The current report sees Trinidad ranked as the happiest country in the Caribbean as well as the 31st overall in the world. Trinidad's ranking is in no way surprising. The island's robust economy, diverse culinary scene, numerous festivals, combined with local steel pan music and world-renowned beaches bring out the happiness in both locals and visitors alike.
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Moreover, with its vibrant lifestyle, dynamic mix of culture, booming business centres, strong government and, of course, the famous Carnival (which is the largest cultural festival in the Caribbean), there’s no surprise that Trinidad and Tobago leads the way in happiness.
In addition, Trinidad celebrates 15 public holidays each year. In fact, the republic is among the top ten countries in the world for the number of public holidays. Who wouldn’t want a few extra days off from work/school per year?
The World Happiness Report 2013 offers the Caribbean rich evidence that proper planning and systematic management are the tools that lend themselves to a well ordered society. For Caribbean countries that are experiencing dire economic and social problems, it is indeed necessary to take a look at the sustainable development that Trinidad and Tobago has had since its Independence from Great Britain.
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Of course, many will argue that Trinidad & Tobago's (T&T) happiness is sustained by its healthy economy, which is fuelled by its oil industry. While this may very well be so, one cannot discount the impact of strategic planning that the twin island republic has been able to maintain.
In the end, success and economic growth are not realized only by the quality or quantity of resources that a country has at its disposal. Invariably, success and economic growth are maximized by how those resources are managed for the benefit of the entire population; it’s about equity and a well-established standard of living. This is the key that beckons true societal Harmony — the only true recipe that will bring forth happiness.
In the end, whether it's sampling the variety of Trinidadian food, moving to the rhythms of the steel band music, or experiencing a Trinidadian adventure, ‘Trinis’ have plenty of reasons to smile and with continued prosperity will continue to smile for years to come.
By: Norvan Martin