Paraguay and Latin America are the happiest places to live in the world, according to Gallup's Positive Experience Index, released to mark the International Day of Happiness on Friday (20 March).

CountryHappiness score
Costa Rica81
El Salvador81
Latin America took over the top 10 of the world\'s
happiest countries in 2014.

Paraguay topped the list of 143 countries surveyed with a score of 89, while other Latin American countries took the next nine positions.

Gallup said the survey's purpose is "to measure the things GDP was not intended to measure".

The US came in 15th, while the United Kingdom was tied at 43rd, along with Australia, Austria, Peru, China, South Africa and Thailand, with 75 points – four more than the global average of 71.

India came in at 39th, alongside Poland, Ghana, Italy and Jamacia.

To measure global happiness levels, researchers asked 1,000 people from each country whether they had were well-rested, treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned something interesting, and whether they experienced positive feelings during the day before the survey.

The survey was carried out in 2014, but the data was released on Thursday (19 March), before International Happiness Day.

Gallup officials said: "There is much to be learned from Latin America on this International Day of Happiness, because while they aren't the wealthiest people in the world, they are certainly among the happiest."

Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Lithuania and Nepal were ranked the saddest countries of all, tying for the bottom of the list.

Don't worry, be happy

In an effort to raise spirits across the globe, the UN Ban Kim Moon also asked for the world to contribute to the "world's happiest playlist" through the #HappySoundsLike campaign.

"On this day we are using the universal language of music to show solidarity with the millions of people around the world suffering from poverty, human rights abuses, humanitarian crises and the effects of environmental degradation and climate change," said UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

Ban called on people to share pieces of music that make them happy.

Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, David Guetta and John Legend were among those who contributed to the effort.

"The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavours," he added.

The UN leader's own nomination to the playlist was Stevie Wonder's 1970 classic Signed, Sealed, Delivered.