All of us are guilty of complaining about being stressed. Whether it’s work, relationships, college or money, from time to time it can feel as if we really couldn’t be much more stressed. However, for those of us living in the developed Western world, our stress as a whole doesn’t even register on the scale of whole stressed out populations. A survey conducted by Bloomberg in 2013, which assessed seventy-four nations on the basis of seven variables, calculated which countries in the world were technically the most stressed out. Norway tops the list of least stressed countries, while the USA comes in fifty-fourth place – nowhere near the level of the top 10 most stressed nations…
At number ten is Bolivia, a landlocked South American nation. The country has a population of 10.67 million people and is ranked at a lower middle income level. Bolivia has had a turbulent political life ever since the establishment of their independence from Spain in 1825, during which time there have been numerous rewrites of the country’s constitution and almost two hundred overthrows of the government. Bolivia is also the poorest nation on the continent of South America, with a per capita income of just $2,800 as opposed to the average of $8,200 in other South American countries. Accordingly, 64% of its inhabitants live below the poverty line. Understandably, none of this is conducive to stress-free living.
The Republic of Macedonia, located in South-East Europe, is at number nine. A large part of the stress on this country’s population comes from the difficulties and problems surrounding the fundamental rights of each individual person. The country has a huge problem with its human rights system, one specific example of which is discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity. This is particularly prevalent in the country’s attitude to its Roma population, which faces enormous discrimination on a daily basis. Macedonia also has a significant problem with the trafficking of women, and with domestic abuse.
Caribbean nation Jamaica is in at number eight. One of its largest stress-inducing problems is the high rate of crime on the island. Drug trafficking is a big problem in Jamaica, particularly that of cocaine, and the resulting gang wars are incredibly problematic too. Jamaica has one of the highest rates of murder in the world; in the year 2009, for every 100,000 citizens in Jamaica there were 55 murders. This rate has dropped considerably in recent years but it remains a serious issue. There is also a reported desensitization in the general public towards acts of extreme violence; it’s not unusual for arguments or robberies to turn very physical, and fights will often involve knives or guns.
At number seven is Pakistan. Pakistan has any number of factors contributing to the high level of stress in the country; the nation was established very recently, in 1947, and since then has suffered numerous hardships, including poverty, political instability and the issue of terrorism. It’s a country that’s well equipped in terms of its raw resources, and yet the fact that it’s a developing country means that it is unable to utilise these to their full potential. Poverty in the country increased from 30% to 40% over the space of a decade, and the nation has a startlingly low rate of growth, causing an atmosphere of intense pressure for the entire population.
The Republic of Colombia is the world’s sixth most stressed country and is the second country on this list located in South America. Colombia’s main problems, and thus main sources of stress, mainly affect the rural areas of the country, in which over a quarter of the entire population live. In 2009 it was concluded that poverty affected 46% of the total population of Colombia, and 64% of the population of specifically rural areas. There are enormous gaps in standards of living between different regions of the country, and the Afro-Latino and indigenous populations are worst affected by the wealth inequality.
Yet another South American country is at number five: Guatemala comes in as the world’s fifth most stressed out country. While Guatemala is well-populated with Western chains, like McDonalds, the unfortunate truth is that only a very small percentage of the population are in a position to avail of facilities like these. The general rule in the country seems to be that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. On top of this, Guatemala has to deal with an enormous amount of violence, often pertaining to gangs and to drug trafficking.
Located in North-East Asia, Mongolia is at number four. Poverty is an enormous problem in Mongolia, as is overpopulation, neither one of which helps the other. A few harsh winters several years ago made life for the many traditional herders in the country, who depend entirely on their work for their livelihood, incredibly difficult. The country also struggles with huge levels of air pollution, and difficulties with the mental health of its population; suicide levels in Mongolia have risen dramatically in recent years, which sadly showcases the level of stress the country faces on a day-to-day basis.
3. El Salvador
The Central American country of El Salvador is at number three. The nation faces a myriad of stress-inducing difficulties, including problems with violence, poverty, immigration and human rights. An ever-increasing number of El Salvador natives emigrate to North America every day, to escape the stress, troubles and danger of their home country; however, violence against undocumented travellers and the USA’s strict immigration policy means even escape is a stressful experience.
2. South Africa
South Africa is infamous as a place of extreme crime, although the country’s levels of violence have improved greatly in recent years. Nevertheless, it takes second place on the list of most stressed out countries. Up until 1994 the country was under a extreme white minority government, and the apartheid policy of the time caused mass stress over the whole nation. Although the government is now in a far more positive democratic place, there is still significant tension between the white population and the country’s people of colour. Added to this, the South African economy went into a sudden decline in 2009, which has led to ongoing mass unemployment and considerable poverty.
Nigeria is number one on the list of the world’s most stressed out countries. The Republic of Nigeria has the largest population of all African countries, and is in fact the eighth most populous country in the world. It is a country rich in natural resources, including zinc, natural gas, tin and petroleum, and yet has the largest population of poor people in all of Africa. Nigeria is notorious for its incredibly corrupt government, the power of which has led to mass unemployment and the aforementioned mass poverty. Up to 60% of the country’s population live below the poverty line, and up to 5 million Nigerian people live with HIV or AIDS. There is also intense religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the country, and numerous environmental problems including large levels of deforestation, water pollution, and fast-paced urbanisation.