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Poll: World is a happier place than 2007

TORONTO -- Despite economic hardship, wars and natural disasters, the world is a happier place today than it was four years ago and Indonesians and Mexicans seem to be the most contented people on the planet, according to one survey.

Regionally, Latin America had the highest number of happy people, followed by North America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa. Only 15 percent of Europeans said they were very happy.

More than three-quarters of people worldwide who were questioned in an international poll said they were happy with their lives and nearly a quarter described themselves as very happy.

"It is not just about the economy and their well-being. It is about a whole series of other factors that make them who they are today," John Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos Global, told msnbc.com on Friday. Ipsos Global has surveyed the happiness of people in 24 countries since 2007.

But Wright added that expectations of why people are happy should be carefully weighed.

"What we discovered is sometimes the greatest happiness is a relationship, a hot cooked meal and roof over our heads for shelter," he said.

Brazil and Turkey rounded out the top five happiest nations, while Hungary, South Korea, Russia, Spain and Italy had the fewest number of happy people.

Perhaps proving that money can't buy happiness, residents of some of the world biggest economic powers, including the United States, Canada and Britain, fell in the middle of the happiness scale, he said.

"There is a pattern that suggests that there are many other factors beyond the economy that make people happy, so it does provide one element but it is not the whole story," Wright said. "Relationships remain the No. 1 reason around the world where people say they have invested happiness and maybe in those cultures family has a much greater degree of impact."

On a more personal note, married couples tended to be happier than singles but men seemed to be as content as women, Wright said. Education and age also had an impact with more people under 35 saying they are very happy than 25-49 year olds. Higher education also equated with higher happiness.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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