oli80
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Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 4:32 pm

So, in light of everything that is happening in the Middle East at the moment, I thought it might be nice for some 'happy' news.

As many BBC internet trawlers may have stumbled across already, Vanuatu has come out as being the happiest nation on the planet.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5169448.stm

Some quotes from the article:

Quote:
The index is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements such as GDP.



Quote:
One of the authors, Nef's Nic Marks, said the aim of the index was to show that well-being did not have to be linked to high levels of consumption.



Quote:
"It is clear that no single nation listed in the index has got everything right, but it does reveal patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all while living within our environmental means,"



Quote:
Latin American nations dominate the top 10 places in the index, while African and Eastern European nations fill most of the bottom 10.



Quote:
"Over the last 50 years, living standards in the West have improved enormously but we have become no happier,"



Quote:
Although Vanuatu tops the happiness index, it is ranked 207th out of 233 economies when measured against Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Several years ago, my brother finished his A-levels (18 years old) and took a gap year. He jumped on a plane bound for Vanuatu where he was going to teach English, Math and P.E to kids on the island of Tana.

Once he returned, he really was a changed man. His whole outlook on life had changed. He had different priorities and it made him a much better person. All he wants to do now is help people who need it most. He is great with kids and is now about to start his teacher training in the UK. Once he has finished that he has promised that he is going to go back to Tana.

Anyone else ever been to Vanuatu? Shared similar kinds of experiences as my brother did there?

Please don't turn this into a Zen100 type thread.
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:27 pm

Quoting Oli80 (Thread starter):
Anyone else ever been to Vanuatu? Shared similar kinds of experiences as my brother did there?

Yes. Me! I went to Vanuatu in 2001 and can definately say that this is probably true. When you're passing local people either on foot or in your car, they stop with what they are doing and they start waving to you while giving you the biggest smile on earth. Same thing on Fiji. They'll say "Bula" to you!

There's a single bad memory I can think of from Vanuatu. While I stayed there, we one day drove around the main island, and we met two Australians who had been living on Vanuatu for years, running a restaurant in a remote location on the other side of the island. Not long before we met them, someone had burned down their restaurant and they now wanted to leave the islands for good.


Interesting fact is that the last man that was eaten alive on Vanuatu was eaten not more than 37 years ago! It was a missionary trying to teach the locals about christinaity, so there has indeed been a lot of cannibalism on Vanuatu earlier!

[Edited 2006-07-14 10:31:26]
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:36 pm

I read about that index in a newspaper a couple of days ago and it's an eye-opener, as the countries at the top of the happiness league would mostly be considered third-world.

But then it's not surprising, when you think about it. The more we in the west have the more we want and demand, creating pressure on ourselves which people in "third-world" countries are blissfully unaware of.

This will work wonders for the Vanuatu tourist industry.
 
bill142
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 6:18 pm

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 2):
But then it's not surprising, when you think about it. The more we in the west have the more we want and demand, creating pressure on ourselves which people in "third-world" countries are blissfully unaware of.

You're right. We in developed nations have many freedom's many luxuries which we take for granted. Yet were always wanting more. These people know nothing but their way of life. They wouldn't have it any other way.

Apparently in a Province in China there are more living Centenarians then there are living Centenarians in the rest of the world. This is because their diet and life style are what we would deem as simple. They eat, work the fields and come home. No tv, no internet etc. Life is Bliss.
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 6:42 pm

I'd go back there anyday if I could. It's an awesome place and so different from anything in the Western world. They don't care about what weekday it is, what time it is or which date it is.

Go Island time!  Smile

[Edited 2006-07-14 11:43:52]
 
Doona
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 8:09 pm

Well of course they're happy. Put me on a paradise island in the Pacific, take away all my worries, give me a boat and net, and I would be happy too... worried 



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Mats
Sure, we're concerned for our lives. Just not as concerned as saving 9 bucks on a roundtrip to Ft. Myers.
 
milan320
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:13 pm

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 2):
This will work wonders for the Vanuatu tourist industry

Please I hope not for the simple reason you gave. The richer they get, the more they will want, the less happy they will become, kind of like all of us  Wink
-Milan320
I accept bribes ... :-)
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:28 am

Quoting Milan320 (Reply 6):

Please I hope not for the simple reason you gave. The richer they get, the more they will want, the less happy they will become, kind of like all of us

probably true. Best not to influence them so much with a western ideology.
 
worldxplorer
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:50 am

Quoting Milan320 (Reply 6):
The richer they get, the more they will want, the less happy they will become, kind of like all of us

Every time I travel to a 3rd world country I am struck by just how happy the majority of the people are. By no means am I suggesting that poverty = happiness, but I do think that simplicity breeds greater appreciation for the basics in life such as family and friends.

WorldXplorer
 
bongo
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 1:17 am

And Colombia is the second one on the list...  Wink
MDE: First airport in the Americas visited by the A380!
 
Avianca
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 1:22 am

Quoting Bongo (Reply 9):
And Colombia is the second one on the list...

true!!!
Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
 
oli80
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 1:51 am

Quoting WorldXplorer (Reply 8):
Every time I travel to a 3rd world country I am struck by just how happy the majority of the people are.

Yup, me too! I noticed this in South American nations. No matter what has happened in their lives, they always greet you with a smile. It just makes you feel that these people love their lives!

Quoting Milan320 (Reply 6):
The richer they get, the more they will want

Unfortunately, this is probably true.  Sad

Quoting AirPacific747 (Reply 4):
I'd go back there any day if I could.

My brother says the same. And when he does go, he said he is bringing over suitcases full of European football team shirts. He brought a few over for himself when he moved over there, but the kids pretty much ripped them off his back. He gave them to the school so they could share them. He also promised them he'd bring more next time.  Wink
 
mt99
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:04 am

Quoting Oli80 (Reply 11):
Yup, me too! I noticed this in South American nations. No matter what has happened in their lives, they always greet you with a smile. It just makes you feel that these people love their lives!

you know why? Its beacause they dont know why the should be unhappy. People living in a hut wont complain that their cell phone service is spotty... their cable dies... There is no running water? So what.. lets walk 1 or 2 miles to get some... no problem.

Ignorance is bliss.  

In essense - they are lucky.

The more you have the more you complain. Its like my windshield wipers. They used to have only 3 positions: Off, Slow and Fast... Mine has 7 - and for the life of me i can never find the "correct" one when its raining - its always too fast or too slow - i have to keep changing it all the time, which is a source of stress.. Its as stupid example but you get the drift

[Edited 2006-07-14 19:07:23]
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TWFirst
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:35 am

What nobody realizes is the water source in Vanuatu is contaminated with ecstasy.
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
LPLAspotter
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:52 am

I lived in Micronesia (FSM) for three years and it is located just north of Vanuatu. Funny, the Micronesians, while polite (although not always smiling at you) and utilize the same "island time" can hardly be called happy. Young men struggle to graduate from one of the only colleges in the region only to find that the unemployment rate is staggering. If they can afford it they try to make it to Guam, Hawaii, or the Mainland US. Many do not return.

Most of the island is on the government payroll (over 40%), and the money used to pay these people are handounts which come from the US in the form of a Compact of Federated States which gaurantees the government a quatitity of money that the Micronesians are supposed to invest so that they may create an income based on a trust fund. However, due to unaccountability and shoddy politicians, the money is usually missing soon after it is delivered. The leaders care more about themselves than the citizens they are supposed to govern.

The local citizens survive off of fishing (they're incredible fishermen) and various tubers such as yam, breadfruit, and tapioca are grown for consumption. Many people collect their pention check and buy rice and SPAM instead, thus resulting in a society that is exploding in diabietes, heart disease, and obsety. They also chop down trees to grow Sakau which is a favorite narcotic drink which is consumed daily. Sakau is not bad, as a matter of fact its the only thing that brings people toghether to discuss problems facing the community. You may know Sakau as Kava Kava.

The main difference between Vanuatu and the FSM is that Vanuatu seems to have a greater pride in their nation, while the FSM have been colonized for so many years that they feel like abandoned children. Oh, before I forget, the FSM has one of the largest growing populations in the world, but the pathetic hospital just outside Kolonia cannot keep the current population healthy. Psychological disease, wife beating, and underage pregnancy is rampant, while the casual visitor believes he or she is in paradise since it is so very very beautiful.

My three years there were trully eye opening! My attitude from when I arrived to when I left was totally different. I felt as if I had accomplished nothing while my other jobs in Africa and Asia made me felt I had accomplished something nomatter how small.

I would love to hear from those of you who have visited both Vanuatu and the FSM and post their opinions why there is such a different level of morale in both countries given that they live so close.

I have not provided a solution, but hope one of you can explain why what I saw was so bad in a place where it shouldn't

LPLAspotter
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AirPacific747
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:55 am

Quoting WorldXplorer (Reply 8):

Every time I travel to a 3rd world country I am struck by just how happy the majority of the people are. By no means am I suggesting that poverty = happiness, but I do think that simplicity breeds greater appreciation for the basics in life such as family and friends.

I second that! Sometimes I wish my life was so simple, that I had a lot of time for friends and family, and didn't have a clock to follow.

Quoting LPLAspotter (Reply 14):
The main difference between Vanuatu and the FSM is that Vanuatu seems to have a greater pride in their nation, while the FSM have been colonized for so many years that they feel like abandoned children.

Vanuatu has been colonised by the British and the French at the same time for almost 100 years also, so that cannot be the main explanation for the difference you say there is.

[Edited 2006-07-14 21:59:38]
 
ba747yyz
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:17 am

And the least happy nation is Zimbabwe!
 
worldxplorer
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:45 am

Quoting Oli80 (Reply 11):
Yup, me too! I noticed this in South American nations. No matter what has happened in their lives, they always greet you with a smile. It just makes you feel that these people love their lives!

When I read your post, the first place I thought of was Iquitos, Peru. Isn't it interesting that we both immediately thought of South America?

Quoting AirPacific747 (Reply 15):
I second that! Sometimes I wish my life was so simple, that I had a lot of time for friends and family, and didn't have a clock to follow.

Each time I come back from a place like that, after I have had a chance to get settled into the local rhythm of life, I swear that I will never get sucked back into the rat race again. I promise myself that I will be more easy going and stop rushing. It only takes two weeks and I am right back into the rush-rush mode. I guess that's the price we pay for living where we do.

WorldXplorer
 
oli80
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:58 am

Quoting WorldXplorer (Reply 17):
When I read your post, the first place I thought of was Iquitos, Peru.

Whilst I haven't been to Iquitos (decided to give it a miss when we were in Peru - don't really know why either), I have been to a few other places in that country.

One situation that really stands out for me was a trip to the mens room. It was in a small town maybe 100 miles South East of Cuzco, I was stood at the urinal when an old lady walked in. She muttered something, and reconising a woman's voice, I turned around in surprise. She smiled at me, and proceeded to come and stand next to me at the urinals!!. She looked down and then said, "que bueno!", laughed, and then walked out.  Smile

I know it is not a great example, but there was something about that moment that I will never forget. She seemed like a lovely lady full of life and ready to enjoy it!

I love South America and long to go back!! My Spanish isn't great but that didn't stop me enjoying what that area has to offer. The locals are more than accomodating towards a poor Spanish speaker.
 
worldxplorer
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:59 am

Quoting Oli80 (Reply 18):
One situation that really stands out for me was a trip to the mens room. It was in a small town maybe 100 miles South East of Cuzco, I was stood at the urinal when an old lady walked in. She muttered something, and reconising a woman's voice, I turned around in surprise. She smiled at me, and proceeded to come and stand next to me at the urinals!!. She looked down and then said, "que bueno!", laughed, and then walked out.

 rotfl 

That's a great story!

I could fill this board with stories that come to mind, but none are quite that funny. Yeah it seems like the Peruvian have a real lust for life. Lots of good memories of Peru.
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:07 am

Quoting WorldXplorer (Reply 17):

Each time I come back from a place like that, after I have had a chance to get settled into the local rhythm of life, I swear that I will never get sucked back into the rat race again. I promise myself that I will be more easy going and stop rushing. It only takes two weeks and I am right back into the rush-rush mode. I guess that's the price we pay for living where we do.

My exact thoughts, except it only takes me two days to be back into this rushing and stressed out life.

Quoting Oli80 (Reply 18):
One situation that really stands out for me was a trip to the mens room. It was in a small town maybe 100 miles South East of Cuzco, I was stood at the urinal when an old lady walked in. She muttered something, and reconising a woman's voice, I turned around in surprise. She smiled at me, and proceeded to come and stand next to me at the urinals!!. She looked down and then said, "que bueno!", laughed, and then walked out.

Hahaha! What exactly does "que bueno" mean? I don't speak spanish but I can imagine it means something like "big one" or something like that.
 
Ps76
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:45 am

Hi,

I was working in the University of the South Pacific Science Lab. (Lab Technician) in Port Vila, Vanuatu for like 8 months in 1996. It really was beautiful, very relaxed, a little work, a little basketball, a little swimming, a little scuba diving...

Pierre
 
worldxplorer
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RE: Vanuatu; The Happiest Nation On The Planet

Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:02 am

Quoting AirPacific747 (Reply 20):
What exactly does "que bueno" mean? I don't speak spanish but I can imagine it means something like "big one" or something like that.

My gringo Spanish translates it to "that's good". Perhaps a native speaker can correct me if I'm wrong.

WorldXplorer

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