21 Reasons Why Costa Rica Is The Happiest Country In The World
Costa Rica is all the proof we need that there is a template for happiness and it relies on each and every one of us (and our government) to make people and our environment a priority. Costa Rica is by no means the richest country in the world, but researchers have learned what makes Costa Ricans some of the happiest people.
Here’s to taking a page out of Costa’s printed-on-recycled-paper book.
1. Costa Rica is ranked #1 in the Happy Planet Index (HPI).
Can you imagine why? It was No. 1 in 2009 and 2012 as well. Professor Mariano Rojas, the country’s leading economist, says that the key to happiness is Costa Rica’s culture of strong communities of friends, families and neighbors.
2. They live longer than Americans.
And by the way, they also have a quarter of the GDP than most other Western European and North American countries. Riches truly can’t buy happiness, or even longevity. Costa Rica is proof.
3. Costa Rica’s ecological footprint is a third the size of the USA’s.
It’s government is very focused on maintaining the island’s pristine ecosystems, and for good reason. Eco-tourism is the economy’s largest industry.
4. I mean, look at just one of its National Parks:
Caption: “Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s smallest National Park, just 4.900 acres of land and 136.000 acres under water. Forbes magazine even considered Manuel Antonio Costa Rica to be among the top twelve most beautiful national parks in the world! Two and three-toed sloths, coatimundis, howler monkeys, hummingbirds and iguanas are just a few of the many species of animals that you can see here.”
4. In 2015, the country produced 99% of its electricity from renewable energy.
The government plans to become entirely carbon neutral by 2021. Look at Costa Rica leading the world in environmental protection.
5. Costa Rica’s new Cabinet has more women than men.
So it makes sense that they’re winning at their government-led programs. #ByePatriarchy
6. The government tried to ban all zoos.
But, alas, companies that profit off animals will do their damnest to keep exploiting them. The company that owns the two zoos in the country took the government to court and is permitted to operate for the rest of their contract. Eight years until we see them shut down.
7. Costa Rica did ban the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.
That means that the country isn’t renting out its dolphins for tourists to swim with and there will never be a #FreeTilly movement. H/t to you Costa Rica.
8. And they have a dog sanctuary called “Land of the Strays.”
As soon as a stray gets there, he’s neutered, given vaccines, and left to roam free and play with other dogs. Plus, they’re all up for adoption! Costa Rica is a legit friend to animals.
9. It’s home to just one of five Blue Zones in the world.
Blue Zones are places where people live longer, happier, and healthier than anywhere else in the world. The Nicoya Peninsula is just the place, and this research tells us why Costa Ricans are so happy.
10. Strong community bonds top the list.
Like many of our own homes, the generations before and after you live in or around your house. The neighbors are like extended family, and are actively involved in their lives.
11. They stay active until old age, which is on average 78.6 years old.
You know how, when you’re outside in the sun, you just feel happier? Agriculture is a major economy driver in Costa Rica which means its residents spend their days cultivating the land they live on and releasing endorphins all over the place.
12. Which means they’re eating home cooked and farm fresh meals all day long.
Here’s the key to a happy live: homemade corn tortillas, rice, beans, platanos, cabbage and carrot salad, and a protein. Here are some examples of good Costa Rican food.
13. We can’t not talk about Gallo Pinto
I’m drooling. This breakfast dish is made of rice and beans with peppers, cilantro and onions. When it’s all mixed up, it looks like a “spotted rooster” tu sabes?
14. Costa Rican Tamales are ajo af.
Unlike Mexican tamales, Costa Rican tamales are wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks, and are much less spicy and just as good and garlicky.
15. Last but not least, there’s Arroz con leche.
To make it vegan, use full fat coconut milk, very soft rice, and all the spices (lemon zest, salt, sugar and cinnamon sticks).
16. Back to business: Costa Rica hasn’t had an army since 1949.
President Jose Figueres literally smashed the national military headquarters with a wall and then turned it into a national art museum. Imagine a world where your country isn’t at war, or being threatened to be nuked. If you’re in the U.S., you get the fear.
17. All the best healthcare, education and employment rates.
Since then, it use war funds on education, health and pensions. The GDP of Costa Rica is less than $8,000 but a literacy rate of 97.8% and employment rate of 91.5%.
18. The weather is perfecto.
We’re talking about a tropical island where the temperature ranges from 71 to 80°F, with ocean breezes from all directions. So this kind of life is just casual.
19. Did we mention they also have sloths?
Like, they’re not difficult to spot. Any native could tell you a few of their local spots to see sloths. THEY ARE JUST THE CUTEST.
20. And volcanos?
Like I said, super casual island to live on. When I moved from Florida to LA, it took me months to get used to seeing mountains. I think I’d be annoyingly in awe for the rest of my life if volcanoes were my yard view.