Stay Smart About Africa

10 Happiest Cities in Africa

Do you live in any of these happiest cities in Africa? With the current economic and technology developments, happiness and wellbeing is an important aspect that is increasingly coming into focus. Happiness is now used as a measure of social progress and democracy, with various reports being released analyzing various countries and cities. The World Happiness Report was first released in 2012, and ever since, it has given us annual global happiness reports that have included Africa. International Day of Happiness is now celebrated worldwide on March 20th which underscores the importance of Happiness.

The 10 happiest cities in Africa listed below have been chosen based on their respective country index, GDP per capita, average life expectancy, trust in governance, freedom of speech and making choices, citizens ability to hold governments accountable, social support, and generosity. The cities sampled below have performed above average on the abovementioned parameters.

Are you curious to know the happiest cities in Africa? You will be extremely surprised because some of the cities you may be expecting on the list may be missing, and those you never expected may feature among the top 10.

Below are the top 10 happiest cities in Africa.

Oran, Algeria

Oran is Algeria’s second largest beautiful coastal city that is located in the North Western part of the country. Oran is a key commercial, industrial, and cultural hub after the capital, Algiers, and is one of Algeria’s most-visited cities, whose origins trace back to a trading city that was ruled by the French. It’s not surprising this city that commands beautiful views of the coast, cliffs and harbor has the happiest people in Africa. According to the World Happiness Report 2017, Algeria is the happiest country in Africa, and number 53 globally with an average of 6.355. Comparatively, Algeria still maintains the lead on the continent on the Happy Planet Index with a life expectancy of 74.3, wellbeing 5.6/10, and a Happy Planet average score of 33.3.

Algeria is a leading oil-exporting country, and for this reason, the poverty levels in Oran are lower compared to many other African cities, which could be contributing to a happy population. Interestingly, families in the city and across the country value family life and coexistence first before anything else. When you travel around Oran, you will see so many happy faces and families taking time to bond and enjoy themselves in various fanfare activities that the city has to offer. GDP per capita and social support have been identified as the main factors that have contributed to a high number of happy people in Oran and Algeria in general.

Port Louis, Mauritius

Port Louis is the scenic capital city of Mauritius, famous worldwide for its unique tourist attractions, and is the main hub of democracy in Africa. The city is warm and sunny throughout the year thanks to its maritime tropical climate, not forgetting the breathtaking scenery of the ocean and cool sea breezes. Mauritius happens to be the second happiest country in Africa, with an average index of 5.629, life expectancy of 74.62, and a well-being of 5.5/10. These are statistics both from the World Happiness Report and Happy Planet Index.

There is no doubt that Port Louis has a happy population because the city has numerous exciting activities that take place throughout the year. There are many religious and cultural parades such as the Chinese New Year celebrations, which are characterized with numerous red lanterns;red in the traditional context represents happiness. In addition, the Mauritius Government has ensured citizens’ access to free education through the university. The country has a vibrant economy with a high GDP per capita, with Port Louis having good infrastructure and high purchasing power. In addition, free healthcare and transport is provided for school children. Coupled with good governance and zero tolerance of corruption, 87% of people in Port Louis and Mauritius reside in their own homes, meaning people are happier here. In Port Louis, people are happy and ever-smiling city dwellers appreciate the little things in life that make one happy and not how much money one has. The city is a great place where people relax, families extensively, and where people visit the beach often and make friends. Port Louis employees also finish their work on time and go home earlier compared to other African cities.

Tripoli, Libya

Tripoli is a surprise entry on this list of happiest cities in Africa considering the recent ongoings in the North African country, which has undergone political turmoil. Tripoli is Libya’s capital and largest city situated in the North Western part of the country. The city’s high ranking isn’t surprising given Libya was ranked the third happiest country in Africa, with an average index of 5.615, according to World Happiness Report 2017. Despite the lawlessness that has been experienced in the city, and country at large, security has improved in recent times. Libyans are known to be warm, friendly, and extremely hospitable. Visitors often praise the Libyan people for their kindness and respect they show to others.

Despite being a capital city, Tripoli residents value family life and take every available opportunity to bond and do things together. While in the city, you will see hundreds of families in public squares and parks sitting down to enjoy picnics as kids play happily and enjoy state recreational facilities. Green Square is a famous place for city residents, as well as along the beaches where thousands of residents relax, mingle, eat at dine-in restaurants, enjoy drinks, sitting down in kiosks, and enjoying a walk on the beach. Libyans value respect and honor and strive to maintain good family reputations by exercising good conduct. In Tripoli, decorum is critical and it is the culture of people to be mindful of others, as well as ensure personal feelings of others are respected.

Fez, Morocco

Fez is Morocco’s second-largest city, but was initially the country’s capital until 1912. The city is steeped deep in history and has one of the world’s largest pedestrian zones. Actually, Fez is referred to as the “Athens of Africa.” This charming, beautiful, and historic city has the happiest people in Morocco. It just so happens that Morocco was ranked the 4th African country with the happiest people, according to statistics from the World Happiness Report 2017. Additionally, Happy Planet averages Morocco’s life expectancy at 73.4, well-being 5/10, and an average score of 32.7. Fez people are always smiling and willing to help out whenever you need assistance. It is certainly one of Africa’s top cities with charming people, and a great spirit of friendship. A local guide was once quoted saying, “You don’t need a visa to get into Fez, you just need a smile.”

Despite life challenges facing Moroccans, the people choose to remain optimistic and look forward to a better future. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos, a global market research firm, a majority of Moroccans admitted they’re happy when they have peace of mind. For residents of Fez, and the entire country, people would rather live a peaceful and stress-free life than have a lot of money. Ipsos statistics indicated 36% prefer a peace of mind, 26% good health, stability 15% and, lastly, 14% money. Good health, worship, and strong families are the main sources of happiness for Moroccan people. For local people, religious, spiritual, and social issues are the key to happiness and not money and wealth.

Durban, South Africa

Durban is a buzzing South African metropolis that borders the Indian Ocean, and is famous for beach vacations, nice food, and great people. Durban ranks amongst the top 10 happiest cities in Africa and attributed to South Africa’s Happiness Index of 4.829, which ranked the country as the 7th happiest country in Africa, according to statistics from the World Happiness Report 2017. On the other hand, Happy Planet Index averages South Africa’s life expectancy at 56.3, and wellbeing of 5.1/10.

Durban is a great city that anyone would want to visit, no wonder it’s among the happiest cities in Africa. In 2017, Durban, for the second time in a row, was named the best South African city to live in, according to the annual Mercer Quality Living Survey.  Durban Mayor, Zandile Gumede, said, “Our municipality continuously strives to ensure that our 3.7 million residents enjoy an improved quality of life through the services we render. The municipality’s new radical economic transformation framework aims to accelerate service delivery, provide economic opportunities to poor and unemployed residents, and grow the small business sector.”

With a vast breathtaking coastline and excellent weather throughout the year, Durban is attractive for both locals and visitors. Aside from being highly multicultural, the city is known for its happy, warm, and friendly people. Those who’ve been to Durban or live there agree that it’s quite common for random people to begin hearty conversations. People here are also extremely helpful and wonderful. Despite numerous social and economic challenges that city dwellers have to grapple with, Durban is generally known to be friendly, laid-back, and accommodating.

Tunis, Tunisia

unis is a vibrant city and the capital of Tunisia, famous for its breathtaking views situated next to the Mediterranean Sea, no wonder it’s among happiest cities in Africa. Tunis was also amongst the first Muslim cities to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city makes it to the top 10 list considering Tunisia is ranked the 8th happiest country on the continent with an average index of 4.805 (World Happiness Report 2017). The country’s high life expectancy of 74.6 is a true testament of a city whose considerable population is happy. The country’s happiness is attributed to an increasing GDP, economic growth, as well as a strong social fabric. In addition, the freedom to make life choices and free speech is upheld in Tunisia creating a conducive environment that promotes peace and cohesion.

Tunis city dwellers enjoy a lower cost of living since average living expenses are substantially lower compared to other cities on the continent. The Tunis housing market is affordable, as well as other daily living expenses, making it an attractive and pleasant city for both Tunisians and foreigners. Tunisia is a tiny and homogenous country, which promotes a sense of cohesion and national identity. Tunisians abhor discrimination and believe that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their social status. Good etiquette is also held in high esteem. Local culture dictates that people should always be addressed and treated with respect, while spirituality and optimism also keeps Tunisians happy despite numerous life challenges.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addis, as it’s popularly called, is Ethiopia’s capital city and one of highest land cities in the world and one of the happiest cities in Africa. Due to its rich history, Ethiopia has a special place in history books, and for this reason has many UNESCO Heritage Sites around the country. When it comes to happiness, Addis Ababa has performed well thanks to Ethiopia, which outperformed many African countries with a Happy Planet Index score of 26.7, well-being of 4.6/10, and an average life expectancy of 62.8 years. Addis Ababa is an emerging economic powerhouse on the continent and has also managed to make great efforts in keeping its people happy.

Two things are pleasant in Addis Ababa – the weather and the people. It is evident that despite numerous political, social and economic challenges, Ethiopia has managed to remain stable in the recent times and is far more safer than a couple of neighboring countries. Even though ethnicity is rife in political circles, it hasn’t resulted into serious violence. Also, Christians and Muslims coexist peacefully. When you’re on the streets of Addis Ababa, you will immediately realize the warmth of the local people. Schoolchildren are happy and sometimes wave, especially if they realize there are visitors amidst them. Over the last decade, the country’s economic growth has surpassed that of many African countries, making Addis Ababa one of the best cities to live on the continent.

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is Egypt’s largest city and also doubles up as a major tourism hub on the African continent. Many people don’t know that Cairo has the largest metropolitan area in the entire Middle East, as well as the Arab world. As a buzzing city with a high population and a myriad of challenges, Cairo people have still remained optimistic and happy. In the recent World Happiness Report 2017, Egypt was ranked 9th on the continent with an index of 4.735 – the country moved up 16 places from position 120 to 104 globally. According to the Happy Planet Index, Egypt has an average life expectancy of 70.7, and well-being of 4.2/10. Lately, Egyptians are happy because of the recent gains made in security considering how the country has bounced back from political turmoil and a wide array of security threats.

Cairo residents, and the country in general, have chosen to remain optimistic and hope for a better political and economic future. Egyptians are highly religious, which has helped them to successfully pass through numerous societal challenges. Egyptians are very friendly and helpful people, and most of them would go the extra mile to help out. They also love to chat. The country has embarked on an ambitious economic program that is aimed at making Egypt a better place for its residents. Cairo, itself, is a pleasurable city with many leisure activities and entertainment spots that allow people to unwind, relax, and spend time with family and friends.

Enugu, Nigeria

Enugu is one of the top happiest cities in Africa, it is located in South Eastern Nigeria and is the capital of Enugu State. This lovely, beautiful, and quiet city has the happiest people in Nigeria. For starters, despite economic recession and insecurity challenges, Nigeria was ranked the 6th happiest country in Africa, according to the World Happiness Report 2017, with a score of 5.074. Happy Planet Index puts Nigeria’s HPI score at 22.2, life expectancy at 52.8 years, and well-being of 5.5/10. Even though the country has undergone a lot of social and economic challenges, Nigerians, especially in Enugu, have managed to live happy lives. Enugu is well-organized, less stressful, and clean, making it a top choice for people looking for an exciting and beautiful city to reside.

Unlike other bigger cities that are chaotic and busy, Enugu is quiet, safe, and beautiful. The city’s residents are welcoming, warm, and eager to help whenever you are in need of assistance. The lower cost of living compared to other Nigerian cities, a good transportation system, and well-established educational institutions have enabled Enugu residents live a happier and peaceful life compared to their counterparts in other cities. Just like other countries, Nigeria has its fair share of problems, but optimism and hope have played key roles in keeping the society together.

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Located on the Western side of the country, Freetown is Sierra Leone’s capital city and largest natural harbor in Africa. Freetown is a major port city and the country’s financial, political, cultural and economics hub. In case you are wondering how Freetown made it to this list of happiest cities in Africa, Sierra Leone, according to World Happiness Report 2017, was ranked 11th on the continent with an average of 4.709. Happy Planet Index estimates Sierra Leone’s life expectancy at 49.8 and well-being of 4.5/10.  So, what made Freetown and Sierra Leone perform way better than many African cities and countries? To begin with, Freetown’s population is extremely diverse culturally, religiously, and ethnically, yet they all coexist peacefully and happily.

In fact, Freetown is known to be among Africa’s top religiously tolerant cities, where Christians and Muslims have lived happily side-by-side and treat each other with love and respect. Sierra Leone people are very charming, polite, and conscious with their conduct. In urban areas across Freetown, it is amazing how everybody is concerned about the feelings and welfare of others, and everyone conducts their daily activities without infringing on other people’s rights.  Across the city, you’re received with courteous and eloquent greetings, which are the tradition here. Here, it’s not uncommon for a stranger to call you, and in a humble and friendly way, request you to join them for a meal. Locals also hold religion in high esteem and rely on their religious conviction to coexist with others and make important life decisions. Respect for tradition, family, and kinship is also held in high regard, and it’s the responsibility of everyone to help out members throughout life.

The above cities lead other African cities when it comes to hosting happy populations which, as explained, are the result of a wide spectrum of social, economic, governance, and political influences. Have you visited any of these happiest cities in Africa?

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Steve is a Kenyan-born writer and proud African. He is passionate about African affairs and takes pride in positively highlighting the continent's progress in technology, health, culture, finance and economics. When he's not working, Steve likes to spend time with his family and traveling.

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