unhappiest place on earth

Map

 

In the summer of 2006 I was headed to the east African country of Burundi and on the morning of my flight out of London, I came across a story on the BBC that morning that was serendipitous. Adrian White, a psychology professor from the University of Leicester had, just that morning, published a paper and a corresponding map that indexed nations around the world according to their level of happiness.

At 176 was the Democratic Republic of Congo which was held in the throes of interstate war that is estimated to have been responsible for over 5 million people being killed. Number 177 on the happiness index was Zimbabwe and a leader in Robert Mugabe who had been plundering the country and crushing political opponents with disdain.

Finally at 178 out of 178, was Burundi. The country I was headed to that morning. A place I had hardly heard anything about was the unhappiest place on Earth? More miserable then the Congo or Zimbabwe? I was somewhat taken aback and resoundingly curious as to what the unhappiest country in the world might be like and look like. ‘The Unhappiest Place on Earth’ is a glimpse into Burundi and it’s people that inhabit their own stark contrasts of; hopeless poverty surrounding opulent wealth, Hutu versus Tutsi tribal cultures, a painful past set against an unknkown future.