With Panama leading the group, a fast-growing economy and deeper canal can't hurt.

1. "Americas Lead Highs, Sub-Saharan Africa Lows in Well-Being"

2. "A researcher explains why Panamanians are the happiest people in the world"

We were curious about why Latin Americans fared so well in terms of their well-being, so we checked in with Dan Witters, Gallup-Healthways Research Director, to get some insight. "It's a culture of positive outlook," he said. "It permeates Latin America." He added: "There are some pretty poor countries there, characterized by many decades of civil strife, human rights abuses, and outright civil war — yet people maintain pretty impressive levels of objective well-being. For those of us who spend all of time in well-being measurement, it was no surprise to see Latin American countries in there.


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