Norway has displaced Denmark as the world's happiest country in a new report that calls on nations to build social trust and equality to improve the wellbeing of their citizens.

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The Nordic nations are the most content with New Zealand (8th) and Australia (9th) both inside the top 10, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen, are the least happy of the 155 countries ranked in the fifth annual report released at the United Nations.

New Zealand was the second-highest non-European country. Photo: Getty Images

"Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government," Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the SDSN and a special adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General, said in an interview.

The aim of the report, he added, was to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to wellbeing.

Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada and Sweden rounded out the top 10 countries.

South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were at the bottom.

The report calls for nations to build social trust and equallity. Photo: Getty Images

Germany was ranked 16, followed by the United Kingdom (19) and France (31). The United States dropped one spot to 14.

Mr Sachs said the United States was falling in the ranking due to inequality, distrust and corruption. Economic measures that the administration of President Donald Trump was trying to pursue, he added, would make things worse.

The rankings are based on six factors - per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business.

Sachs would like nations to follow United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.

THE TOP 10 NATIONS ACCORDING TO THE WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT:

1) Norway

2) Denmark

3) Iceland

4) Switzerland

5) Finland

6) The Netherlands

7) Canada

8) New Zealand

9) Australia

10) Sweden

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