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Smiles of all ages in Hamar, Norway
Smiles of all ages in Hamar, Norway

It's official: Norway has toppled Denmark to become the world's happiest country in 2017. Or, to put in local linguistic terms, the world's lykkeligste country. This year's rankings, which came this morning to coincide with the International Day of Happiness, surely has left more than one Danish unhappy, or ulykkelig (yes, Norwegian and Danish languages are close).

The World Happiness Report is an annual UN survey which ranks 155 countries by their state of global happiness, based on criteria including GDP per capita, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and public trust. As expected, developed Western nations dominate the list, and nations of the African continent make up most of the bottom part. Worse, the report shows that "only two African countries have made significant gains in happiness over the past decade": Sierra Leone and Cameroon. A situation that booming demographics are unlikely to change.

Ethiopia, which ranked 119 and where a state of emergency was imposed in mid-2016 amid student protests, is a good indicator of the continent's current situation. As Italian journalist Enrico Caporale reports for La Stampa, the country has one of the highest population growth rates in the continent and it "is projected to reach 210 million people in 2060, up from the current 99 million." And like many other African countries, the former Italian colony is being caught in a vice between Chinese "neocolonialism" and a process of "Islamization" fostered by Gulf monarchies.

"Outside the airport, at the first traffic light, my taxi jockeys for position with a economy car driven by a man who appears to be Chinese. ‘Since they began arriving a few years ago I see them everywhere," my Ethiopian taxi driver complains. ‘We used to call white people ferenji, which means foreigner, but now we mainly use it for the Chinese. They've built everything here."

Back in China, there is little doubt that this expansion abroad has helped accelerate a quarter-century of rather stunning economic growth. But how has the rise to becoming the world's No. 2 economy translated on the happy front? Monday's UN report notes that China remains stuck down in the 79th slot on the World Happiness Report, demonstrably no happier than they were before the economic boom. 伤心 Sad.

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Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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