Move Over Disney, Instagram Says The Happiest Place On Earth Is A Lot Farther South

Is it the beautiful beaches? The gorgeous women? The pulsating rhythms of samba and bossa nova? Is it all of the above?

Whatever it is, Brazilians – at least those who use the social media app Instagram – are the happiest people in the world.

Jetpac City Guides last week released its controversial “Happiness List” and found that nine out of the top 10 countries on the list were from Latin America. Brazil, home to this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, took the top spot, while – surprisingly to some – Nicaragua and Colombia came in second and third, respectively.

To come up with the list, Jetpac – an iPhone app that puts together Instagram’s data to help users find top bars and restaurants – based its data on how many Instagram users shared photos. After narrowing its search, Jetpac then compare the “smile scores” of 124 countries.

“Jetpac's image processing identifies faces in photos, and then looks at those faces to see if the person is smiling or not, based on the shape of the mouth. The larger the smile, the bigger the smile score,” Jetpac CEO and co-founder Julian Green said, according to the International Business Times. “Smile scores for venues, cities and countries are averages of the smile scores for each face.”

The company said that the reason that so many Latin American nations took top honors in their list was the abundance of sand and sun in places like Brazil, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. That seems true because, let’s be honest, the seventh ranked Venezuela doesn’t have much to smile about these days.

“We noticed one correlation around the world, which was a relationship between exposed chests and happiness,” Green said. “Brazilians apparently expose a lot of chests and, from the photos, take a lot of pleasure in beaches, dancing and football.”

The Philippines was the only nation outside the Americas to crack the top 10 at number eight, while Macedonia was the happiest nation in Europe at No. 12. South Africa came in first in Africa at No. 19, and Lebanon topped the Middle East at No. 25.

Meanwhile, the United States, home to the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth” (Disney World), came in at No. 33.

“I think the exciting thing about basing the Happiness List on data, rather than on ad hoc personal experience, is that it challenges misleading stereotypes, while confirming those rooted in some truth,” Green said. “When I got a visa to Russia and the requirement was for no smiling in the photo, that set an expectation that smiling might not be as welcome there.  However, it turns out while Russians aren't smiling through the day as much as the Brazilians; they're amongst the outwardly happiest of the Eastern Europeans.”

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