IN FOCUS: Why is North Maluku the happiest province in Indonesia?

    NORTH MALUKU: Basri left his office early in the morning to meet some clients in a remote village in eastern Halmahera, North Maluku province.

    The banker’s drive was interrupted when a truck carrying goods for a mini-mart overturned on the main and only road on the 17,780 sq km island.

    The vehicle blocked the road and various grocery items such as cooking oil, rice and diapers were scattered. There was no reception in the rugged area to call the police and no way to remove the truck without heavy machinery.

    Taking it in their stride, Basri and others at the scene started chatting, relaxing and sharing their food.

    “Even though this is an accident, people are still happy,” Basri, who goes by one name, told CNA.

    Such scenes are not uncommon in North Maluku, which has been dubbed Indonesia’s happiest province. 

    According to a report released by the Indonesian statistics agency last June, the province’s happiness index is at 76.34 points out of 100. North Maluku’s score was the highest among all provinces. 

    The higher the score, the happier people are, according to the index. The Indonesian statistics agency defines happiness as comprising three main components, namely: life satisfaction, affection and meaning of life.

    It surveyed 75,000 households in July and August 2021 in all of the country’s 34 provinces. The parliament later agreed to establish four new provinces.

    In North Maluku specifically, the survey was conducted in all its regencies involving 1,040 households. The population of the province stands at 1.3 million.

    After North Maluku, the provinces of North Kalimantan and Maluku were ranked second and third respectively in the index.

    There are 10 indicators in the happiness index. Housing, income, jobs, community and education were measured. The other indicators that were measured include environment, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. 

    The Indonesian statistics agency also released the happiness index in 2014 and 2017. However, the methodology used was different. In 2017, North Maluku also took the top spot with a score of 75.68 out of 100.

    With an easy-going approach towards life and a strong economy, things appear rosy for the people of North Maluku. But there are still many developmental challenges that need to be tackled.

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