COSTA RICA came first on the Happy Planet Index for a third time with a solid lead over its competitors. Those of us who have the incredible good fortune to live here are not surprised. We enjoy an enviable quality of life surrounded by friendly locals and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The Happy Planet Index measures well-being and sustainable living conditions. The index was introduced by the New Economics foundation in July 2006 and gives higher scores to nations with lower ecological footprints. Costa Rica ranked first on the Happy Plant Index in 2009 and 2012 and has come out again on top in 2016.
Costa Rica boasts the highest biodiversity on the planet. Our GDP per capita is less than a quarter of the size of many Western European and North American countries, and is mainly based on tourism, agriculture and exports.
Costa Rica is also renowned when it comes to environmental protection. The government allocates taxes collected on the sale of fossil fuels to pay for the protection of forests, and a staggering 25% of our country is preserved in national parks and nature reserves
In 2015, Costa Rica was able to produce 99% of its electricity from renewable sources, and the government continues to invest in renewable energy generation in an effort to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021.
The Happy Planet Index found that residents of Costa Rica have a higher level of well-being than residents of many wealthy nations, including the USA, Canada and the UK. We also experience more longevity than residents of the USA and all of this is achieved with a per capita ecological footprint that’s just 1/3 size of the USA’s.
Moreover, Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 and has since directed military funds to education, health and pensions. In 2012, Costa Rica invested more in education and health as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product than the UK and has a higher literacy rate than the USA.
Professor Mariano Rojas, a Costa Rican economist at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, credits Costa Ricans’ happiness to a culture of forming solid social networks of friends, families and communities.
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