What Makes Costa Rica The Happiest Country On Earth?

Culture March 6, 2017 By Vincent

Depending on what rankings you go by, the happiest nation on Earth is usually either Denmark or Costa Rica, and in the latest Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica takes top place.

Image Credit: Adrianna Calvo via Pexels

Previously, we have looked at what makes Denmark so happy, so here we are going to have a look at the culture that makes Costa Rica so full of life.


1. The Blue Zone

A blue zone is a place where people live longer and remain healthier and happier than anywhere else in the world. There isn't necessarily a defining factor to this (like something in the water) but rather a collection of things that make this possible and the Nicoya Peninsula n the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is one of these such places.

Researching what goes into creating one of these blue zones, we look at the factors in Costa Rica.


2. Family Connections

Family and community play a prominent role in Costa Rican society with multiple generations living in proximity to one another if not in the same dwelling. This all lends to increasing a sense of connectivity and a place within the family.

It also helps that neighbors are essentially treated like extended family, and so everyone knows everyone else giving a greater air of community spirit and mental well-being as you are rarely, if ever, isolated.


3. Working In The Sun

With agriculture being hugely important to the Costa Rican economy, many spend their days working in the sunshine performing manual labor. This may not sound like a lot of fun, but the body releases endorphins when doing any sort of physical activity and this is closely associated with happiness.

Spending time outdoors also helps to supply the body with vitamin D, which plays a significant role in both physical and mental health with sunlight being a key factor in this.


4. Fresh Food

Typically, most Costa Ricans eat farm fresh food three times a day. It is not plentiful but it is enough, and it is not filled with unnatural preservatives or sugars and typically consists of homemade corn tortillas, rice, beans, plantains, cabbage and carrot salad, and protein such as chicken, pork chop, steak, or fish.

This access to fresh fruit and veg, not too much meat and few processed foods makes for easy, healthy living.


5. Peaceful Means

In 1949, the then President of Costa Rica abolished their military altogether, as such, the country has no army. Now, this may sound like folly in today's world, but it means the nation does not get dragged into wars to protect allies, is actively peaceful and cooperative with neighboring countries and does not act aggressively toward others.

The funding that would be put towards a military force is put into education, healthcare and education and Costa Rica has not been in a conflict since its demilitarization.


6. Healthcare Education & Employment

Costa Rica may not be the wealthiest nation on Earth, in fact, far from it with the  GDP of Costa Rica being around $10,000 per capita, the country does have a literacy rate of 97.8%, an average life expectancy of 78.6 years old, and an employment rate of 91.5%. 

For any nation this is impressive, and this is because the country prioritizes caring for its people and thus it proves that you don't need to be rich to be happy.


7. Biodiversity

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet and is home to a rich variety of plants and animals, containing 5% of the world's biodiversity in its 0.1% of the world's landmass.

Seeing this as part of its cultural heritage, as well as of extreme importance to its tourism industry, Costa Rica does a lot to preserve these with many, many national parks protecting this natural beauty and also helps engender a connection to the surrounding environment.


8. Seeing The Bigger Picture

All of these previously stated components all add up to a culture that can see the bigger picture as the country focuses on happiness and health over riches and GDP. The lack of materialism seemingly has a positive impact on a nation and the emphasis on family and community is key.

An active and purposed lifestyle keeps people happy and helps the nation move forward.

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