It’s no surprise that the Greeks are highly doubtful about their future, with a recent Gallup poll showing that the citizens of Greece are the most pessimistic in the world about where their lives are headed. Only 25% of Greeks polled felt optimistic, compared with a median of 36% in Europe and 66% worldwide.

According to the Gallup World poll released July 25, 42% of Greeks expect their lives in five years to be worse than they are now. Wait a minute. Only four in 10? That means most Greeks still viewed their glass of retsina as half full. Then again, the survey of 1,000 people in face-to-face interviews was performed from April 14 to May 3, 2011, before the worst of the eurozone crisis hit.

Syria, the Czech Republic and Portugal were the only countries aside from Greece where at least one in three people rated their future lives worse than their current lives.

So who’s feeling optimistic in Europe?

Somewhat counterintuitively, optimism “is often found among those with low current life ratings, as is the case in less developed nations,” according to Gallup. “In countries where residents generally rate their lives poorly, people tend to expect their lives to improve, likely because they cannot fathom their lives getting worse.”

That said, here are the rankings of the 16 most optimistic countries in Europe, in reverse order. The results are based on Gallup surveys of 1,000 people in each of 148 countries worldwide over the course of 2011.

Paris, France, at night.16) France. In 2011, 35% of French people polled by Gallup rated their future lives better than their current lives, compared with 41% in 2008. The two other European countries with a 35% optimism rating were:

15) Cyprus.

14) Romania.

Copenhagen canalIn 2011, 36% of the citizens in these three European countries felt optimistic about their future:

13) Denmark. (Versus 37% in 2008.)

12) Bulgaria. (2008 rating unavailable.)

11) Poland. (Versus 45% in 2008.)

MadridIn these three countries, 37% of the citizens polled by Gallup felt optimistic about their future:

10) Spain. (Versus 44% in 2008.)

9) Italy. (Identical to the 37% reported in 2008.)

8) Slovakia. (2008 rating unavailable.)

Helsinki, Finland.7) Finland. A total of 40% of those surveyed in Finland said they felt optimistic about their future in the next five years, identical to the 40% rating in 2008.

6) Sweden. In 2011, 41% of Swedes polled said they felt optimistic versus 43% in 2008.

London's Big Ben and Westminister5) Ireland. Less than half, or 44%, of Irish citizens polled in 2011 deemed themselves optimistic compared with 57% in 2008 – and Ireland is one of the most optimistic countries in Europe.

4) United Kingdom. Things in the UK looked better to 45% of those polled in 2011 versus 51% in 2008.

Estonian flag.3) Estonia. Slightly more than half, 51%, of Estonians felt optimistic in 2011, the same percentage as in 2008.

2) Latvia. The majority of Latvians polled, 53%, felt optimistic in 2011, down slightly from 55% in 2008.

Sunbathers in downtown Vilnius, Lithuania. (Photo: AP)1) Lithuania. The future looks bright to a majority – fully 60% – of citizens polled in No. 1 ranked Lithuania, the same number as in 2008.

Then again, the news out of Europe doesn’t excite much interest here in the States. According to a May 31 Gallup poll, less than half of Americans surveyed said they were following the news about the eurozone financial crisis. Only 16% of Americans claimed to be paying attention “very closely” to what was going on in Europe, while 29% pegged themselves as following euro news “not at all.”

Read about the top 10 countries with most millionaires at AdvisorOne.


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