It’s fashionable these days to speak of the death of geography. We live in a wireless, Internet age, where place no longer matters.
Or do we? Rumors of geography’s demise, it turns out, have been greatly exaggerated. The fact is that place matters, and in unexpected ways. The Internet remains a largely local phenomenon, and the number of people traveling–for work and pleasure–is on the rise.
Take happiness. You would think that, in this day of globalization and instant messaging, national differences in happiness would fade. They haven’t.
Psychologists at the University of Leicester in Britain recently produced the world’s first map of happiness. Using data from the emerging science of happiness, they created a color-coded atlas of bliss, a topography of the human spirit, from Swaziland to Singapore. Happiness, it turns out, is like oil. Some countries are awash in it; others are bone dry.
The map contains more than a few surprises. Latin American countries, for instance, are among the happiest in the world, despite their relative poverty and often shaky political situations. “The Latino bonus,” some researchers have dubbed this phenomenon. One explanation: the close family ties found in Latin American countries, and among many Latinos in the U.S.
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