IT is home to the birthplace of golf - a historic course that attracts superstar players from around the world to some of the very best fairways around.

But while St Andrew's revels in adulation, just 20 miles away the post-war town of Glenrothes has had to shake off the insult of being named Scotland's most dismal place in the 2009 Carbuncles Awards.

Despite the contrasting fortunes Fife towns, it appears the Kingdom has some very joyous subjects after research suggests they are the country's happiest Scots.

Read more: Herald View - Want to find happiness? Try life in Fife

The Bank of Scotland has published its latest Happiness Index, which seeks to quantify how contented people are living in their communities.

Fife has raced to top spot - leapfrogging the Highlands which topped the poll last year.

Two in five Fifers said they were "very happy" living there, almost double last year’s total.

Despite a reputation for occasional dourness, it seems that the residents of the St Andrew’s, Glenrothes and Dunfermline have the most sunny disposition on their home towns than anyone else in Scotland.

The percentage of Fife residents saying they are despondent with their county reduced to just seven per cent this year. The study suggests their euphoria with the place could be credited to residents prioritising spending time with their families.

Fife is home to the East Neuk, one of the country’s most beautiful areas, with its scattering of picturesque coastal villages and verdant countryside, along with the historic university town of St Andrew’s and the Old Course.

House prices, are also among the most affordable in Scotland, rising by a modest 2.8 per cent in the past 12 months from an average of £119,599 to £122,932.

While the area’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, the most recent figures show an improving picture in the job market with a six per cent drop in the number of people claiming benefits in the past 12 months.

Read more: Herald View - Want to find happiness? Try life in Fife

Leader of Fife Council, Cllr David Ross, said the county was compact and still fostered a strong sense of community.

"Unlike many places nowadays we still have strong, close-knit communities where the residents have a strong sense of belonging," he said.

“Fife has an ideal mix of vibrant, upbeat urban areas with a wealth of easily-accessible rural areas, boasting some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland.

“We have top-quality schools, lots of outdoor activities and a thriving business community.

“Fife provides an excellent quality of life and this in turn creates a happy and content population, as this survey shows.”

And he added: “I’m very pleased to hear that the people of Fife are some of the happiest in Scotland.

“Fife is an excellent place to live and work."

The Highlands has been demoted to the second happiest region in Scotland, while Dundonians were said to be the most unhappy.

The number of contented Glaswegians also fell from 2015’s figure.

Read more: Herald View - Want to find happiness? Try life in Fife

The index is based on responses given in 3,215 online interviews by adults aged 18 and over living in Scotland, with a ‘happiness score’ between 100 and -100 assigned to people’s answers to the question: “Taking everything into account, how happy or unhappy would you say you are living in your community?”

An average score was then calculated using the values of -100 for a response of “Very unhappy”, -50 for “Somewhat unhappy”, a score of zero for “Neither happy nor unhappy”, +50 for “Somewhat happy” and +100 for a response of “Very happy”.

Overall, Scots were said to be are generally happier than they were last year with a slight increase in the overall happiness score.

Women are happier than men, with both seeing slightly more sunshine in their lives compared to last year.

Happiness appears to increase the older people get, with those in the 18-24 age bracket said to be the least happy, followed by those in the 25-34 age group.

Surprisingly, Scots don’t seem to get any happier the more money they make, with those on a household income of £25,000-£39,999 the most content with their lives.

However, those on £40,000-£59,999 and £60,000 or more aren’t far behind on the happiness scale.

Rachel Bright, Bank of Scotland’s Head of Customer Service said, “We published the results from our first Happiness Index just over a year ago, where the Highlands came out as Scotland’s happiest region.

“This year, Fife’s happiness score has increased over twenty points, putting them at the top of the Happiness Index and pushing the Highlands in to second place.

“There has been a slight increase in the overall happiness score for Scotland as a whole, with women remaining happier than men. As we saw last year, happiness increases with age, and pensioners are once more the happiest age group in Scotland.”