Latin American nations dominate the top ten in most studies identifying the happiest people in the world. Colombia ranked first in a recent Gallup poll, for example, while Paraguay finished on top in 2014, and Guatemala, Honduras, and Venezuela were’t far behind. This surprises many since these nations have high violence rates, but one peer-reviewed study suggests happiness is simply genetic. “The correlation between happiness and safety seems to be inverse,” study co-author Michael Minkov of Varna University of Management in Bulgaria told AFP. The study claims that this counterintuitive fact could be because people in northern Latin America tend to have an “ethnic prevalence of ‘A allele,’ a variant of a gene involved in regulating anandamide,” which heightens pleasure and reduces pain, according to the Tico Times.