Happy Nation is the debut studio album by Swedish pop group Ace of Base. It was initially released in Denmark on 2 November 1992 by Mega Records. During development of the record, the group was heavily influenced by a Jamaican reggae band residing in a nearby studio. For a release in North America, Japan and some Latin American countries, the album was retitled The Sign with a heavily revised track listing and three new tracks. To coincide with this, Happy Nation was reissued with the new tracks in other territories as Happy Nation (U.S. Version). In 1995, Guinness Book of World Records named the LP the best-selling debut studio effort in music history, at more than 19 million copies sold worldwide. By 1998, Happy Nation/The Sign had sold approximately 21 million units including 9 million in the US alone.Happy Nation/The Sign is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Speaking with Music & Media magazine about the album, Metronome Records managing director Albert Slendebroek said of the album:
Everything was being driven by grunge or techno, then suddenly these people arrived and did something which was completely different and happy and simple. I just think they write brilliant pop tunes and it hit a nerve at the time. (...) I think they've developed their own style. If you listen to the radio and you hear a record, you immediately recognise that it's Ace of Base.
Following its initial release in Denmark in November 1992, Happy Nation was gradually released across Europe throughout 1993; first in Norway in January, then in Sweden and Germany in February, and in the UK in June. It would also be released in Africa, and Latin America, and reached the number one position in at least 10 countries.
Happy Nation (U.S. Version) came on 22 November 1993 to coincide with the album's release in North America under the title The Sign. This edition included the new tracks "The Sign", "Living in Danger", and the Tina Turner cover "Don't Turn Around", along with a remix of "Waiting for Magic" and a version of "Voulez-Vous Danser" with revised vocals. It also included the new track "Hear Me Calling", which did not appear on The Sign. The songs "Münchhausen (Just Chaos)" and "Dimension of Depth" from the original album were removed altogether. The new version of the album was released in the UK on 14 March 1994, and climbed to number 1 on the UK Albums Chart on 26 June, beating the number 21 peak of the original release.
In 2016, Russian label Mirumir released an "Ultimate Edition" on vinyl containing the original track list from the 1992 release, the additional tracks from The Sign/Happy Nation (U.S. Version) releases and the iTunes bonuses from the three releases.