Home to the world's biggest coral reef and most poisonous snake, Australia now boasts another superlative: the most generous people in the world. The Land Down Under came out on top in the latest Gallup World Giving Index, which ranks countries' philanthropy on the basis of individual donations, volunteer time, and willingness to help strangers. The US tied with Switzerland for fifth place, behind New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland.
The Gallup poll also noted that the happiest countries, rather than the wealthiest, donate most, and that older people donate more than younger ones. In the US, 60% of us donate to charity, 39% volunteer, and 65% help strangers. US philanthropy fell almost 5% this year because of the recession, a spokeswoman for the poll told the Christian Science Monitor.