Whilst it must remain clear that this is by no means a conclusion based on infallible scientific evidence, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute has recently published his observations which suggest that the world’s happiest people – the smiliest, at least – are to be found in the city of Málaga.
Published by Meik Wiking, in his book titled The Little Book of Lykke (which translates as “Happiness” in English), one of the aims of the project was to see where in the world people were most contented while going about their everyday business and suggesting reasons for the apparent proliferation of happiness.
The hypothesis was drawn from a sample of 20 cities across Europe, Asia, North America and Africa, where the research method was observing a random sample of passers-by in the 20 selected urban centres and taking a ratio of “smilers” to “non-smilers”.
With an approximate smiling population of 14%, the Costa del Sol’s traditional and bustling capital tops Wiking’s list. In second and third place were Milan and Kuala Lumpur, while the Spanish capital, Madrid, ranked fifth.
The explanation for this result, according to the book, is related to the eminently social nature of Spanish people and the Costa del Sol lifestyle. Wiking’s deduction was that people in Spain – and particularly Málaga – appear happier because they are often accompanied when walking out on the street.
Wiking sees a “significant correlation” between walking with a partner (or friend) and smiling frequency. For this reason, cities like New York, Seoul and Riga have a low smiling ratio, as more than 80% of their inhabitants walk solo during the day.
So, yes, it would be fair to say that the Costa del Sol is the perfect location for long walks with family and friends, socialising at its various tapas bars and visiting its cities, towns and villages to uncover their long history and significant beauty.