Switzerland tops 187 countries in life satisfaction according to the 2014 Human Development Report, released in Tokyo on Thursday by the United Nations Development Programme.
The UNDP report, published annually since 1990, ranks 187 countries based on measures such as health and longevity of their population, education and income, and personal security. Those measures are compiled into the agency's index of human development.
Norway is ranked at the top of the 2014 list overall, followed by Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States.
The five lowest-ranked countries are Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo and, at the very bottom, Niger.
Improvements are slowing due to natural disasters, misguided government policies and worsening inequality, the report said. Today, the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people.
More than 2.2 billion people, or 15% of the world's population, live near or in poverty, according to the UNDP.
Threats such as financial crises, fluctuations in food prices, and violent conflict significantly impede progress, and governments must act together to lift more people out of poverty and to reduce inequality, the report says.
The Human Development Report is intended to inform and influence policy makers, said the director of the Human Development Report Office, Khalid Malik. Governments watch the rankings carefully, he said, and "when they don't do well they put a lot of pressure on us to change the rankings".
The 2014 Human Development Report comes at a critical time, said the UNDP, as attention turns to the creation of a new development agenda following the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
swissinfo.ch and agencies