A 2014 Gallup global poll called Panama the happiest place on the planet, but does it live up to the title? The Central American nation has experienced unprecedented growth and development in the past several years. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s ever been thanks to a spike in foreign investment and a boom in construction that has transformed Panama City’s skyline.
The expansion of the Panama Canal, the country’s main source of income, is steaming ahead with the potential of doubling the volume of the ships using it every year. Some say these indicators paint a very fragmented picture while the country’s poverty, inequality and corruption show the complex reality the survey overlooks.
Others point to a cultural component to the Panamanian state of bliss. “It must be because of our nature,” a local told correspondent Gerry Hadden. “We Panamanians tend to forget our problems very quickly. If we can find a quick fix to our problems we do so, then we party all week-end and go back to worrying about them come Monday.”
In fact, researchers at Gallup point out that all Latin American countries score pretty high on the “happiness scale.” Apparently, it’s an indication of a culture that accentuates the positive.
Follow Americas Now correspondent Gerry Hadden on his journey to discover the meaning of the Panamanian state of bliss.