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Why Costa Rica is one of the world’s happiest countries
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Why Costa Rica is one of the world’s happiest countries

Costa Rica proudly ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, thanks in part to its peaceful policies, small carbon footprint, high life expectancy and overall quality of life. This fun-loving Central American nation ranked #1 on the Happy Planet Index for two years straight (2011 and 2012) according to data reviewed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which rates more than 150 countries worldwide. With a “happiness score” of 64 points that reflects the people’s high levels of well-being, it’s no wonder Costa Rica remains a top retirement and vacation destination among U.S. citizens looking for a healthy dose of Pura Vida.

Costa Rica people known as Ticos
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Costa Rica #1 on the Happy Planet Index for 2011 & 2012

To determine a country’s “happiness,” the NEF reviews information that shows how a nation embraces sustainable well-being. Costa Rica has a long history of progressive environmental policies, and has announced its intention to become the planet’s first entirely carbon neutral country by 2021. Blessed with an abundance of natural resources and show-stopping geographic wonders – from bubbling volcanoes to majestic blue waterfalls – the country has been a premier eco travel destination for more than 20 years.  This past year, the Happy Planet Index listed the world’s top 10 happiest countries as:

1. Costa Rica
2. Vietnam
3. Colombia
4. Belize
5. El Salvador
6. Jamaica
7. Panama
8. Nicaragua
9. Venezuela
10. Guatemala

Costa Rica Central America Great for Family Vacations
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Why is Costa Rica so happy?

With a population of just over 4.7 million people, Costa Rica boasts one of the region’s highest life expectancies of nearly 80 years. Many of its residents attribute their satisfaction and contentment with the government’s peaceful politics and early abolition of its army. Rather than funneling money into national armed forces, legislators poured funds into the public education system – ensuring each and every child could attend school. As a result, unlike most other Central American nations, Costa Rica has a large, well-educated middle class and comparatively low poverty rates.

A link between happiness and environmental protection

There’s an underlying happiness in the national motto “Pura Vida” – a phrase you’ll hear every day that connotes much more than pure life. Perhaps this cheerfulness can be ascribed to the perpetual sunshine, gorgeous beaches, or mind-blowing array of exotic wildlife. Or perhaps it’s due to the breathtaking natural beauty of Costa Rica, where nearly 30 percent of the lands are protected as wildlife refuges, biological reserves and national parks. Whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast, adventure junkie or nature lover, there’s no denying Costa Rica’s appeal for an unforgettable beach vacation destination or the perfect retirement home. And considering its amazing biodiversity and extraordinarily friendly people, who wouldn’t want to visit one of the happiest places on Earth?

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