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Costa Rica World's Happiest Country

It’s no wonder Costa Rica ranks as one of the world’s happiest nations. With excellent health care and a high quality of life coupled with moderate cost of living, Costa Ricans live long, healthy lives in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. Whether scientists evaluate hard facts or solicit citizen opinion, Costa Rica consistently beats out wealthier countries for life satisfaction and comparative standard of living.

The World Database of Happiness considered Gallup and other surveys from 148 nations, and Costa Rica took the top spot for both Average Happiness and Happy Life Years. The first category took into account citizens’ own reports on their happiness: Costa Ricans ranked first with a score of 8.5 on a scale of 1-10; in comparison, the United States ranks 20th, reporting an average happiness of 7.4.

Fresh, affordable and abundant produce help keep Costa Ricans healthy

The second category took into account a nation’s reported happiness and average life expectancy, calculating how many happy life years its citizens lead. Again, Costa Rica ranked first with an average 66.7 happy life years; comparatively, the United States grabbed the 19th slot, averaging 57.9 happy life years.

Additionally, the Happy Planet Index (HPI) ranked nations on reported happiness and their environmental policies. The HPI begins with the basic premise that the world’s happiest people are the ones who are most content living with the smallest ecological impact – in other words, those who enjoy sustainable happiness. Again, Costa Rica slid into first place with its high life satisfaction, life expectancy, and strong environmental policies. In comparison, the United States, with a large ecological footprint, ranked 114 among the 143 nations studied.

Costa Rica is proud of its recent rankings, but the nation’s intangible achievements may be even more impressive than those already studied. An incredible 26% of its total landmass has been declared national park or private reserve, protecting 4% of the world’s total species – that’s 500,000 animal species! In addition to an abundance of flora and fauna, the country’s small area is home to a wide range of outdoor attractions, including volcanoes, cloud forests, beaches, rainforests, and rivers. Living in Costa Rica means diverse scenery, amazing wildlife, and year-round tropical weather – wouldn’t that make you happy?

All children are guaranteed the right to education

After abolishing its army in 1948, Costa Rica funneled funds into its public education and national health system, producing some of Latin America’s healthiest and best-educated individuals. Furthermore, the nation’s high level of education helped close the gender gap. According to the World Economic Forum gender gap index, Costa Rican women now enjoy more equality than their United States counterparts.

With so much in its favor, it’s easy to see why many call Costa Rica paradise. A lucky some call it home – will you be one of them?

Costa Rica World's Happiest Country in Pictures