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Costa Rica is happiest, greenest place on earth, survey says

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is for many outdoors enthusiasts the most magnificent place on earth. The Central American nation is blessed with good surf. It teems with more than 800 bird species. Its fishing fleets ply waters that abound with sailfish and tarpon. Its eco-lodges are watched over by tall green trees and monkeys.

Its volcanoes are sights to behold and with this in mind we share an image captured recently by Zach Smith of Arenal.net, a website promoting tourism to and around Costa Rica's spectacular Arenal Volcano.

Now Costa holds another distinction: happiest and greenest place on earth.

A survey by the New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, made the determination after looking at 143 countries that are home to 99% of the world's population and using an equation weighing life expectancy and happiness against environmental impact.

Costa Rica, whose rich biodiversity is breathtaking, emerged just ahead of the Dominican Republic and well above the United States with its 114th ranking. Australia was third.

The survey found that Costa Ricans, with their pura vida or "pure life" outlook, have a life expectancy of 78.5 years, and 85% of those interviewed said they were happy. That combined with the nation's tiny ecological footprint helped place it atop the Happy Planet Index.

The happy part is somewhat surprising as I've been there many times and witnessed poverty and know that lots of women and even girls there are drawn to prostitution, which sadly is also a primary tourist attraction for some. 

As sociologist Andrea Fonseca said in an Agence France-Presse story about the survey, Costa Rica's rise to the top of the happy list "has a lot to do with social imagination." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Credit: Zach Smith

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Comments (5)

amazing pic, thanks for yhe information, was very complete

Elia - I agree with you all the way.
I feel in love with the country and although there were many areas of poverty, the people had education. I never seen such a wonderful group of humble people in my life.
I purchased property in Costa Rica 3 yrs ago and could'nt be happier. I plan to move there in March 2010 if all goes well with the construction of my home.
I will be visiting in November to meet several contractors. I was hoping to find someone there that could build our home using the cal earth method but haven't had any luck. If anyone knows any information please feel free to email me at OneLove6467@hotmial.com

This is my opinión about be a Tico, and how learned from this survey, please read it at http://www.dyncr.com/blog/costa-rica-happiest-nation/

Costa Rica has a lot of benefits, consider this when you are looking for a good place to live, or have business, is not just low salaries, is all that you can get from a country, and that is why we are happy. come and enjoy with us!!!!

I have been living in Costa Rica for the past 2 years in a magnificent place called Los Suenos. Los Suenos is an American developed Master Planned Community and the Rich and Famous from all over the world flock here to get a piece of the Costa Rican Happiness which surrounds you in the hope it will rubb off... and that it does. Costa Rica is a very happy nation due to a strong social network and an appreciation peope have for their gorgeous surroundings. Sure this country has problems too, drugs and prostituion but the government lateley has done a lot to get a grip on it and overall it is not a major issue. If you do not look for it you will not see it....

im Costa Rican. and yes we are happy. im very proud of living here, and wouldn't change that for anything. i dont agree with the whole prostitution thing. i mean yes there is prostitution, just like every country in the world, its not as evident as you want to put it. poverty? well yes, we are after all a developing country, of course there is poverty, but we are one of the most developed countries in latin america, with a great education and public health system, and that means we have a very large middle class, and thankfully a poor minority.
Even if we all are developing countries, I praise the spirit of Latin America...with all of our dificulties, 9 out of the 10 top spots are for our countries...we choose to live happy and if you come here, you'll notice that :)


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.